An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
The following account of some recent events in Thaton District was brought in by one of our independent human rights monitors in the area. Where noted, some details have been omitted to protect the people involved. Please use this report in any way which may help the people of Burma.
One of our human rights monitors in Thaton District obtained the following report in testimony from villagers in the area. He also saw and photographed the bodies of 3 of the victims (the photos are being distributed as part of a KHRG photo mailout). We already reported the first incoming information on this incident as a KNU radio message in "Incoming Field Reports: 9/94", p. 5.
On 11 September 1994 at 8 p.m., SLORC #33 Light Infantry Division, #27 Battalion, Company #1 (Battalion Commander Chit Thaung, Second in Command Zaw Myint, Company #1 Commander Captain Win Tint) entered Kru See village [called Kyaun Sein village by the Burmese]. All the villagers ran away because they were afraid to be taken as porters. The Company opened fire.
Tee Toh Po, a 38-year-old Karen Buddhist farmer of Kru See village, was hit in his leg by a bullet. The bone of his left lower leg was broken, but he managed to escape even though wounded. Maung Than Oo (father's name Tee Der Day), age 26, married with 2 children, was hit in the jaw by a bullet during the shooting and died the evening of September 11. Three other men were captured by the SLORC soldiers, and all of them were executed at 4 a.m. on 12 September 1994. They were Moo Ko (father's name Maung San Win), age 21, single; Ko Naing (father's name U Than Ngwe), age 23, single; and Thein Win (father's name U Aung Shwe), age 18, single. All of these men were Karen Buddhist farmers from Kru See village.
The villagers never recovered Maung Than Oo's body, but they recovered the other three. Moo Ko, age 21, had been stabbed with a knife in his throat. His entire body had been broken all over - it was black, and the villagers could barely recognize him. Ko Naing's nose had been cut off and he had been stabbed in the eyes and in both of his ears. His body had also been broken all over and it was black. Thein Win had had all his teeth broken and his left arm was broken. The left side of his face had been cut with a knife, and his body had also been broken all over.
While the soldiers were in the village, they also looted all of the villagers' belongings from their homes: clothes, rice, pots, etc. They also took and ate all the chickens, fruit and vegetables they wanted. The village headman went and begged the company commander, Captain Win Tint, to release the four villagers, but he was beaten up and couldn't dare ask again. One of the four killed, Moo Ko, was the village headman's son. On 12 September at noon, the villagers returned and found the bodies, then prepared them for cremation.
After the bodies were found the human rights monitor attempted to interview the mother of one of the four killed, but she could only cry and say "Oh my misfortune ... my youngest son is dead ... misfortune ... my son is dead ...", again and again and again ...
The following testimony was given by a sawmill owner, but for his safety none of his personal details can be given:
In July this year, the SLORC ordered us to make planks for bridges. There are 57 bridges between Ba Nwe Kla and Lay Kay, 5 large ones and 52 smaller ones. These bridges are used for trucks. I had to make 700 tons of planks.
The SLORC paid 7,000 Kyat for 1 ton of planks but we had to deliver them all to Lay Kay. We lost money this way. I had to pay 3,000 Kyat to hire elephants, 3,500 Kyat for costs at the sawmill, 150 Kyat in workers' salaries and 1,000 Kyat to hire bullock carts for each ton. So I lost 650 Kyat on each ton. For 700 tons, I lost hundreds of thousands. The 5 large bridges are being built by SLORC, but all the villagers who live near the road have to build the 52 smaller ones.
Following are the direct translations of some typed, signed and stamped orders which were sent to villagers in the area with regard to the forced labour building bridges which is mentioned above. Copies of the original orders in Burmese may be attached to the end of this report, and if not they are available on request. Items in the orders which must be blanked out to protect people are written as 'xxxx', 'yyyy', etc. in the order translations.
[Note: The original of this order is just over 2 pages long. It is the minutes of a meeting about forced labour - however, this copy was not obtained from anyone who attended the meeting, but from other people who had access to a copy. 'LIB' = Light Infantry Battalion]
July 21, 1994 - 12:30 p.m. - Win Ta Pat Camp
Minutes of the second meeting about bridge construction on the road from Hlaing Chaung (excepted) to Lay Kay
1) The following people are attending:
|Major Tin Aung
Capt. Kyaw Win
Lt. Myat Min Seik
|Commanding Officer (B)
Commanding Officer (C)
|Strategic Cmd 1, Southwest Command
Administration / Supply
Strategic Cmd 1, Southwest Command
Win Ta Pat camp, LIB #308
Frontline Engineers Battalion #907
2) To discuss the construction of bridges on the road from Hlaing Chaung (excepted) to Lay Kay and distribution of duties.
3) As soon as the meeting started, Commanding Officer (B) Major Tin Aung spoke about the construction of the bridges on the road from Pain Neh Daw village to Lay Kay village: The bridges over 100 feet long are the responsibility of the State government, but the bridges under 50/60 feet are the responsibility of the surrounding villages. They are responsible for sharing these duties according to their respective areas. That's why I called this meeting. After the construction of these bridges is completed, they will provide good transportation and development to these villages. These bridges will be used for trucks and must have a long life, so hardwoods such as pyin kadoh [ironwood] will be needed. Lay Kay sawmill and Win Ta Pat sawmill will be responsible for cutting and splitting the timber. Each village will ask their expert carpenters to estimate how many lengths of timber will be needed and the length of each timber, make a list and submit it to us. Also, required materials such as nails, bolts, nuts and other items should be estimated. After that, the village headmen have to submit these lists to Win Ta Pat army camp as soon as possible.
[Note: there is no item 4) ]
5) The engineering officer, Lt. Kyi Maung, will explain the types of bridges needed. He will observe the Win Ta Pat bridge. Right now the water level is at its highest, so we will use these measurements to determine a standard level to build the bridges.
|Decisions:||Action required by|
|The situation regarding collection of timber must be submitted to the nearest outpost.
Sa Kyo Kloh river (alias Kya Kat river), Ka Thi Paw Kloh river and Na Win river, including 3 other streams, will be the responsibility of:
From Ne Meh Aung to Ta Moe river there will be 1 large bridge and 1 small bridge, altogether 2 bridges. These will be the responsibility of:
From Win Ta Pat to Thit Day Gone, including Nat Kyi river and 4 smaller streams, will be the responsibility of:
The Than Pan Pya river bridge will be the responsibility of:
Tee Po Nya river and Thu Kloh river will have 2 bridges, which will be the responsibility of:
Wa Taw Kloh river, Taw Ka Lar river and Ye Pyone river, altogether 3 river bridges, will be the responsibility of:
Thin Baw Myaut, Taung Pyo, Kyaun Sein Lah Kwe and Taung Zun rivers, altogether 4 rivers, the bridges are the responsibility of:
Two rivers near the Pa Yat Ko cemetery, also the Pa Yat Ko Lay river and the Pa Yat Ko river, altogether 4 rivers. The bridges will be the responsibility of:
Between Win Ta Pat river and Ha Te Leit river, to fill in the gullies and lay concrete piping for water diversion will be the responsibility of:
At 1400 hours, the meeting ended.
| All village headmen
Lay Kay village headman
Me Meh Aung headman
Win Ta Pat village headman
Ye Aye village headman
Kah Meh village headman
Pa Lan Taung vlg headman
Pa Yet Ko village headman
Kyaun Sein village headman
Naw Oh Lah vlg headman
Reference No.: 1/4/3/Ye 2
Date: 1994 July 22
No. 33 Light Infantry Division Headquarters, Thaton Town
All attending people
[Notes: Although the bridges over 100 feet long will be 'the responsibility of the State government', rest assured that when the time comes these will also be constructed with the slave labour of the same villages. During the process, the building materials mentioned or money to buy them will also be extorted from the villagers, as well as 'bridge money' which is simply to line the pockets of military officers. Then when the bridges are finished, they will probably be mainly used for military traffic. However, the villagers will likely be forced to guard and maintain them, and if any are destroyed in fighting the villagers will be forced to pay 'compensation' to SLORC as well as rebuild the bridge.]
No. 1 Military Strategic Command To: Chairman
Southwest Command Headquarters xxxx village
Subject: Summoning the chairman
We want to ask some questions about the Hlaing Chaung bridge situation, the construction and water drainage [this was then crossed out by whoever wrote the order] to Mr. xxxx of xxxx village. Come to the Strategic Command urgently.
Commanding Officer (A) (Admin/Supply)
No. 1 Strategic Command
Southwest Command Headquarters
Frontline #36 Infantry Battalion To:
Column Headquarters Village Head
xxxx village Date: 6-7-94
Subject: The village head must come and see us
Regarding the above subject, we want you to collect the number of houses and the population figures for your village and come to Talaing Kayin camp, no later than 7-7-94 at 7 a.m. If you are absent we will take severe action.
Frontline #36 Infantry Battalion
Column 1 Headquarters
[Notes: These figures are required to assign slave labour duties - they will probably demand approximately one forced labourer per household. The threatened 'severe action' probably means arrest and torture of the village headman, though it sometimes includes burning or shelling of part of the village.]