An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
The following reports have recently been sent in by human rights monitors operating independently inside Karen areas. A few of the incidents were reported in radio messages from Karen frontline military units, and these are noted as such. Note that these field reports are not even close to a complete summary of all the killings and looting being done by SLORC troops - for every field report which is sent in, there are a hundred similar incidents which are not being reported.
Mudraw (Papun) District
The following incident was reported by a human rights monitor and civilian Karen officials in the area. Details like the villagers’ names, the details of the SLORC Battalion and officers involved have been blanked out because this is necessary to protect the people who are still living in these village. We have all of these details on file, and they many be provided by request in special instances.
On 11 August 1994 in Papun District, SLORC troops from Light Infantry Battalion #xxx arrested 21 villagers from 3 different villages including men, women, and even 2 boys only 3 years old. They were taken and held prisoner at the Battalion’s camp and interrogated by an Intelligence Captain. The Captain and the Battalion leaders demanded 2 guns and 1 walkie-talkie, and said that if the other villagers didn’t get these for them they would kill all 21 people. All 21 were held hostage at their camp. The other villagers were afraid they would be killed, so they pooled their resources and effort and went searching for guns and a walkie-talkie. They finally managed to obtain them and gave them to the soldiers on 27 August. Only then were the villagers released. The following 21 people were arrested and held:
1) Naw L…..
One of the prisoners who escaped told the following story on August 26, while most of the others were still being detained:
"SLORC soldiers from Column 1 of #xxx Light Infantry Battalion came to N--- village and captured me together with 6 other villagers, including two women. They took us outside the village, tied us all up with the same rope and covered our faces. They kept the 2 women together. They took all of us to L--- army camp and beat us up, asking us to tell them where the gun and the walkie-talkie were. We told them we didn’t know anything. The soldier who interrogated us was M----. Everybody was tortured. Later they released the headman and sent an order with him for all our wives to bring rice for us. When my wife brought rice for me, they captured her as well. Anything the women brought other than rice was taken and eaten by the soldiers themselves. They ordered the headman to go find a gun and a walkie-talkie, but he didn’t dare go so they told 2 of us to go along with him. The 3 of us went back to our village and then we ran away, and then I met you gathering information. My wife is still in their camp. I don’t know what will happen to all the people there."
See also the attached photocopies of SLORC written orders related to this incident (available upon request), and the translations of these orders given below. The SLORC Battalion may have believed that some villagers in the area had been trained and armed by the Karen Army as Karen village defence militia. In fact, there are no Karen militia or weapons in those villages, and the villagers had a very hard time obtaining any. The SLORC troops probably demanded guns and a radio so they could present them to their superiors and claim they had "captured" them from Karen soldiers in battle. Weapons obtained this way are often shown in the SLORC media as weapons "captured" or "surrendered" from "members of Karen armed group".
Translations of SLORC Orders Sent to the Villages
With Respect to the Incident Described Above
See also photocopies of the orders themselves attached to the end of this report (available upon request). The order numbers used here correspond to the circled order numbers written on the orders themselves. Detail with must be omitted for the safety of the villagers are blacked out on the order photocopies and written here as ‘xxxx’ or ‘yyyy’.
Order # 1
Light Infantry Battalion #xxx To: Mr. xxxx
We are detaining xxxx’s wife, his younger brother and the head of the village from xxxx village. So in return for their lives, we know Mr. xxxx has one AK 47 rifle and one Icom walkie-talkie. If you send them within 2 days along with one villager, we’ll give you a guarantee for their lives and we won’t arrest you. After 2 days has expired, we can’t guarantee their lives. You should handle this the same way as previously with Infantry Battalion #xxx [another Battalion in the area], and we will help you.
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion
Mr. xxxx (xxxx village) - (one gun and one Icom walkie-talkie)
Mr. yyyy (yyyy village) - (one gun and one walkie-talkie)
Mr. zzzz (zzzz village) - (one gun and one walkie-talkie)
We have sent this letter to the above people, the headmen and villagers to inform them of our order.
Some members of the village defence group and other people from xxxx village area must hand over their guns and walkie-talkies to the column commander. If they hand over their guns and walkie-talkies, we (the column commander and Strategic commander) will take responsibility for the detained people. If they run away instead, we won’t take responsibility for the detained families or the villagers.
At the moment, we are communication with Mr. xxxx from xxxx village for the same reason. Therefore we would like a mediator to contact column commander as soon as possible.
When you receive this letter, the headmen themselves of these villages must report to this unit.
Stamp: [Sd. illegible]
Light Infantry Battalion #xxx Column Commander
Intelligence Department xxxx Outpost
Dwe Loh Township, Mudraw (Papun) District
The following incident was reported by a civilian human rights monitor visiting the area.
On 6 June 1994 a group of 11 SLORC soldiers from 434 Battalion shot their three superiors and fled to a Karen Army post (see "Testimony of SLORC Army Defectors", KHRG 7/8/94). As a result, SLORC troops from the same battalion arrested several villagers and executed at least two of them. Note that village headman Maung Toe Nyo, whom the villagers previously reported to be dead, was in fact being secretly detained and tortured at the army camp. After several weeks he suddenly reappeared, still alive. Whenever its soldiers run away the SLORC terrorises the local villagers like this for revenge, hoping that the next time the villagers will hand over any deserters instead of harbouring them. The following testimony is from one villager who was arrested after the 434 Battalion soldiers deserted in June and held for about one month before being released. His name, the name of his village and some other details must be omitted.
Captain M--- asked me about the soldiers from 434 Battalion: "Did you see these soldiers?" I said "No, I didn’t see them and I don’t know anything about them." Then he told me that U Shwe Aye, the headman of Oo Ree Kee village [who had already been executed], had told him that the soldiers went to my house. I told him I hadn’t seen them. He let me rest for awhile, then the battalion commander came in and asked me about the same thing. I said "If I had seen them I would have told you. I didn’t see the soldiers, or U Shwe Aye either." Then he tied up my wrists and arms, and at night they tied my legs together. It was difficult for me to urinate or go to the toilet, and I had to do it right there where I slept.
In the morning he covered my head with a plastic sheet and dragged me outside with a rope. I couldn’t see anything, and I slipped when I tried to walk. I hurt my head, my arms and my legs. We walked past a village, and then they untied me. Then when we reached another village they tied me up and covered my face again. The mosquitoes bit me and it got very itchy, but I couldn’t scratch it. Later I came down with malaria. They came to me and asked again if I had seen the soldiers and led them to the KNU [Karen National Union]. I told them I didn’t. They tied me again and made me sleep on the ground, and the mosquitoes bit me again but there was nothing I could do. I was tied so tightly that I was bleeding. The flies laid eggs in my wounds until there were maggots in them. Then they untied me for another 6 days, then tied me up again. While they held me they didn’t give me enough food, just a little bit of rice with nothing on it, not even salt. On the full moon, they untied me and released me to go home. I couldn’t get home in one day and had to sleep in a hut along the way. Finally I arrived home the next day. When they released me they told me I couldn’t be a village elder anymore, and they ordered me to change my name. They said "If the higher officers know that we tortured you it won’t be good for us. We will get a bad name and so will our Battalion." After I was released I had to spend more than 1,000 Kyat for medicines to treat myself.
The following reports have come by radio message from frontline Karen units and district officials. The "Anti-Insurgent Group" (Kyi Shwe) is a special group of the SLORC Army which operates in the area. It is not under any Battalion, and appears to specialise in terrorist tactics.
On 1 August 1994 SLORC Anti-Insurgent Group (A.I.G) soldiers demanded 5,000 Kyat from Hla Aung Ker village. They said if the village didn’t provide the money, they would order the villagers to move out of the village and kill some of them.
On 5 August 1994 A.I.G. soldiers and troops from #96 Infantry Battalion came to Shwe Yaw Pya village and called out Saw Ko Myint, age 37, father’s name Thaung Shwe. They asked him where the KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army) troops are and also ordered him to find them some guns. Saw Ko Myint couldn’t get any guns for them, so they demanded money from him. He had no money, so they killed him.
On 6 August 1994 Thay Sa Paut Thanminee (clearly an alias - it means "Treacherous Steel") and SLORC soldiers based at Ka Ma San village came together to Mee Chaung Aye village and captured Maw Ta Lay, Saw Kla Hla and village headman Saw Naing Naing and demanded money from them. Saw Kla Hla gave them 6,000 Kyat so they released him, but the other two men were tortured brutally.
At 8:30 a.m. on 13 August 1994. Col. Ne Win Oo of Strategic Command 1 ordered Column 2 of Infantry Battalion 18 (column commander Maj. Saw Win) to go to Htee Mu Kee village to cut down all the paddy in the fields of Saw Htoo Rah and Saw Naw Naw. [Note: the paddy is nowhere near ready for harvest in August.]
On 15 August 1994 a SLORC A.I.G. soldier named Saw Hta Ghay demanded 5,000 Kyat from Saw Mu Shay’s mother in Ta Raw village.
At 4 p.m. on 17 August 1994 SLORC A.I.G. soldier Saw Cha Htoo came to K’dee Pu village and shot and killed Saw Koo Rah, age 40. He also shot Nyunt Khin, age.50, and wounded him.
On 22 August 1994 SLORC A.I.G. soldiers Maung Lay, Maung Kyi Win and Aung Moe came to Htee Nya Po village together with troops from #24 Infantry Battalion. They ate 2 ducks belonging to Taw Sein and demanded 7.000 Kyat from the village headman. Then they went on to Mee Chaung Aye village, where they ate one goat belonging to Saw Mya Maung and demanded 4,000 Kyat from the village headman, 5,000 Kyat from Maung Kya Lay and 9,000 Kyat from Maw Sein.
On 7 September 1994 the camp commander of SLORC’s Ba New Kla camp ordered 2 villagers from Naw Htoo Day village to deliver a letter to the commanders of Company 4 of #24 Infantry Battalion at Kwi Lay Doh camp. When they arrived there, soldiers shot one of them dead and the other villager was ordered to enter the camp. The camp commander told him that his friend had been shot for not showing him proper respect. The villager who was shot dead was Saw Pa Kwee, age 57, from Naw Htoo Day village.
On 9 September 1994, Battalion Commander Thay Soe of #63 Light Infantry Battalion went to Pe Le Naw village and captured 2 villagers: Aung Tha Nyunt, age 47, and Saw Aye Kyaw, age 46. He took the two men to his camp and detained them there. On 13 September the soldiers took them from the camp to kill them. Aung Tha Nyunt managed to escape and survived. It is not yet known whether the soldiers killed Saw Aye Kyaw or not.
On 12 September 1994 soldiers from #27 Light Infantry Battalion (battalion commander Maj. Aung Myint, deputy commanders Myint Zaw and Capt. Win Tun) killed 3 villagers: Saw Ko Nee, age 23 (father’s name U Thein New), Saw Moe Ko, age 21 (father’s name U Kya Thay), and Saw Thay Win, age 12 (father’s name U Aung Shwe).
On 13 September 1994 SLORC soldiers from #63 Light Infantry Battalion came to Saw Law Kloh village and captured 3 villagers: Saw Ko Nyeh, age 43, Saw Ku Nu, age 43, and Saw Pa Naw Si, age37. They tied up the three men and took them to their camp, where they beat them, poked them with a knife until they were bleeding, and beat their heads so hard that they defecated.
Kler Lwe Htoo (Nyaunglebin) District
The following testimonies of escaped porters were recorded on tape by a civilian human rights monitor in the area. The men’s names have been changed and some personal details omitted. They were all porters for Company 2 of #60 Battalion, Company Commander Captain Than Win.
Maung Ngwe, age 20, a shopkeeper from Bogalip Township, Pegu Division:
I went to my sister’s small town which is a long the way between Rangoon and Mandalay. When I arrived at the railway station to come back I was broke. A man came up to me and offered me work at the sawmill for 60 Kyat per day, so I agreed but I told him I would just work 2 or 3 days and then I wanted to go back home. He took me to Cho Kaung village and put me in a building there. There were many other people there already. Somebody asked me, "Why are you here?", so I told them "I just came to work in the sawmill", but then they told me "This place is for gathering porters, not for the sawmill". The next morning, the police came in and took us to the police department. I tried to explain to them that I was just in the area to visit my sister, not to work, but nothing happened and the next day they sent us to Kyauk Kyi. I saw many porters there. Then the next day we arrived at #60 Battalion and we started to carry food supplies and ammunition to Byat Kaw. I carried rice sacks and sugar sacks. Along the way I slipped and fell down because I was very tired, and then the soldiers kicked me down the slope. It was very hard for me because I had such a heavy load, but eventually one of the officers dragged me back up onto the path again. Along the way one of my friends was shot dead by the soldiers, and they threw his body down into the valley. His name was Than Saw. I felt very sad. We had carried together and eaten together. Finally I escaped.
Saw Lah Ghay, age 30, a Karen farmer from Kyauk Dagar Township, Pegu Division:
I was arrested when I was shopping at Pado Palaw market and they sent me to Pane Ze Loke police lockup; I spent 2 nights in the cell there, then they sent me on a truck to Kyauk Kyi. We slept one night in Kyauk Kyi, then I had to carry a load from there. It was so heavy that I slipped many times along the way, and I was beaten up and kicked. There was an old man who slipped and fell down on the path because of his very heavy load, and the soldiers dragged him and beat him up with a big stick. Finally he was just laying there silent. He was left there. There was nothing along the path, no protection from the rain for him and it was raining. I slept one night on the way, then the next morning they ordered me to collect firewood for cooking and I escaped.
I can tell you about other porters too. Six years ago, I knew a man called Kyaw Myint who was taken and never came back. Another was my brother-in-law Tin Myint, 2 years ago he was taken and never came back. He had 4 children. There was also Ko Ko Lar nearly 3 years ago, and Tint Swe 2 or 3 years ago, they also disappeared. They were from my wife’s home village.
Maung Than Htay, age 25, married with 2 children, a vendor on trains from Pa New Gone Town, Pegu Division:
When the train stopped at Nyaunglebin station, I was on the train selling rice meals to the passengers. I was arrested by the police because I didn’t have a license. [This is often used as an excuse to arrest people or extort money from them - the SLORC says you must buy a "licence" to do anything whatsoever.] I slept 2 nights in the police lockup, then they sent me to the porter group at No. 60 Battalion in Kyauk Kyi. We started to carry from there. My load weighed 15 or 20 viss [24 to 32 kg.] We slept one night at Mu Thet, then one night at Neh Gya and then we went to Byat Kaw. We ate very little food each day. There was no curry and no salt, just rice sometimes with some yellow beans. There was no fighting on the way. I was beaten with a rifle butt, and the others were also beaten up by the soldiers. When we got to In Gone, They sent me to collect firewood and I escaped.
Maung Cho, age 21, married, a tea-shop owner from Dagon Mya Thit Township close to Rangoon.
I was just going to visit my wife’s elder brother. When I arrived at the railway station a policeman came up and arrested me and took me to the lockup. Then the next morning I was sent to Kyauk Kyi and to #60 Battalion, we slept one night there and the next day we had to carry loads. I was beaten up 3 times along the way. Many people got beaten up because we were so tired and couldn’t carry our loads. Some people tried to escape, and the soldiers shot them. These soldiers are not men, they are dogs. They only gave us 2 spoonfuls of rice to eat each day. Sometimes it wasn’t even cooked and we had to cook it ourselves. At night we had to sleep in the rain. On the way one of the soldiers tried to run away but he was caught by the other soldiers. Another 2 porters were caught too, and they were tied up with ropes and beaten up.
Maung Tint Swe, age 28, married, from Kyauk Dagar Township, Pegu Division:
I was arrested when I was fishing in the paddy field by the road, and they sent me to Kyauk Kyi. From there I had to carry food supplies for Company 2 of #60 Battalion - the company commander’s name is Captain Than Win. My load weighed nearly 20 viss [32 kg.]. We slept 3 nights on the way, and we went on until I escaped. There was no fighting along the way. When we got tired and we couldn’t go, they beat us up. I was kicked in my waist and on my head. We ate twice a day but it was very little, and it was never enough. Some porters got malaria and other sicknesses. Sometimes the soldiers gave them medicine, but sometimes nothing at all. My shoulders and back were all wounded, so eventually I ran away.