SLORC SHOOTINGS & ARRESTS OF REFUGEES

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Published date:
Saturday, January 14, 1995

This report details shootings and killings of refugees, arrest torture and detention of refugees, disappearances, extortion, shootings in villages, forced labour, forced portering, robbery, January 1995.

 

An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
January 14, 1995 / KHRG #95-02

There are currently over 60,000 Karen refugees registered in refugee camps in Thailand. These camps are scattered along the Burma border for hundreds of kilometres, from Kanchanaburi in the south to the Mae Hong Son area in the north. None of these refugees or camps are officially recognized by either the Thai government or the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. They only receive strict rations of rice, salt and fishpaste, little or no clothing or educational aid and extremely limited medical assistance, all of which comes from overseas agencies and is tightly restricted by the Thai Ministry of the Interior. As a result of the overcrowded and restrictive living conditions in some of the camps, thousands of other refugees avoid them and stay in villages outside the camps, where they receive no aid and must earn their living themselves. Both these people and those inside the camps find that they need their own sources of food, money and building materials in order to survive, but they, are not allowed to plant anything or cut any bamboo or wood on Thai soil. Some find sporadic day labour for Thai farmers, buy many find they have to take the risk of planting fields, cutting bamboo or searching for vegetables on the Burma side of the border. Over the past year, there has been an alarming increase in the numbers of these refugees who are being arrested, tortured, or shot on sight by the SLORC Battalions who control the areas across the border. This report documents some of the incidents which have occurred in the Moei River area where it forms Thai/Burma border north of the Thai town of Mae Sot The incidents documented here make up only a small sample of the hundreds of arrests, disappearances and killings of refugees which the SLORC has conducted up and down the border.

These incidents are of special concern right now, because Thai authorities are starting to indicate that they wan to repatriate all Karen refugees as soon as possible. Over the past year, the Thai Army has already been conducting large-scale forced repatriations of Mon refugees and refugees from Shan State. In the Mon case, refugees were driven into an area where they were later attacked and fled, only to be driven back there again; while many of the refugees from Shan State were handed back to SLORC patrols who then took them as frontline military porters. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has done nothing to protect those refugees, and has given no indication that it will do anything to protect Karen refugees in the event of a forced repatriation (refoulement). Instead, UNHCR Bangkok chief Ruprecht von Arnim recently commended the Thai authorities for their "changing attitude" towards refugees from Burma, while a UNHCR press release volunteered to "assist in any voluntary repatriation operation". Von Arnim held up the UNHCR-assisted repatriation of Rohingya Muslim refugees from Bangladesh as an example - however, recent reports by Medecins Sans Frontieres, Refugees International and others have stated that most of the Rohingyas are being forced back against their will, that many of those who tell UNHCR they don’t want to go have subsequently been deprived of food, beaten by camp officials, and summarily sent back, that many returnees are being taken for slave labour by SLORC and their land is not being given back to them, and that UNHCR is seldom to be seen in the camps in Bangladesh or in Burma, where they reportedly stay exclusively in the towns and only travel escorted by SLORC Military Intelligence.

The Thai authorities and UNHCR seem to feel that Karen refugees are only in Thailand because of battles between SLORC and Karen forces, when in fact it is Burma Army repression in their villages which drove these people to Thailand. As documented in other KHRG reports, this repression, including slave labour, looting, extortion, destruction of homes and crops, torture, rape, and killings, is only getting worse. The incidents documented in this report should be enough in themselves to show why no repatriation should even be considered until there is significant improvement in the human rights situation in Burma. The SLORC's attitude toward refugees remains clear: SLORC leaders have repeatedly been quoted stating that "there are no refugees in the border areas, only insurgents in the disguise of refugees". A typical article in SLORC's newspaper "The New Light of Myanmar" (15/9/94) referred to people who fled from forced railway labour as "those who lived in insurgent camps and kept going into the other country; [Thailand] as ‘refugees’." Some of the soldiers' comments mentioned in the following testimonies make it clear that SLORC tells all its soldiers to consider refugees as insurgents (see for example Interview #7 with "Pi Lah Ghay"). This attitude is hardly likely to suddenly change in the event of a repatriation deal. Some of the testimonies show that the refugees do not even feel safe on the Thai side of the river if SLORC is on the other side, because SLORC troops have shown little respect for the Thai frontier in the past. Only a few days before our visit to Don Pa Kiang refugee camp, SLORC soldiers crossed the river in civilian clothes, stole some cattle, took them back across and then demanded extortion money from the refugees to get them back.

Some of the people interviewed live in refugee camps, some live in villages on the Thai side. The interviews were all conducted throughout November 1994 in several camps along the border north of Mae Sot. Across the river the area is controlled by several battalions of SLORC #44 Light Infantry Division. The testimonies sometimes refer to sawmills; these are small Thai-owned sawmills, often on the Burma side of the river. All logging has been banned in Thailand since 1988, so Thai loggers pay large bribes to SLORC commanders to take logs from Burma, and often hire refugees to work for them. Sometimes the Thais fail to pay the ever-increasing bribes, so the soldiers go after their sawmill. Thai loggers also log illegally on the Thai side, then bring the logs along the river as though they came from Burma. The "river" referred to by many people is the Moei River; which is the border. All interviews were conducted on the Thai side of the river. In this report people often refer to others as "uncle" or "nephew" - Karen people often refer to their elders or juniors this way. Where it does not refer to a real relative, we have put it in quotation marks. SLORC soldiers often accuse people of being "Kaw Thoo Lei", the name of the Karen homeland, which SLORC men use to mean "Karen soldier". Two currencies are mentioned: Baht (Thai currency; US$1 = 25 Baht), and Kyat (Burmese currency; US$1 = 6 Kyat at official rate, l20 Kyat at market rate - rates quoted are those at the time of printing).

Names of those interviewed in this report have been changed to protect then - throughout thereport, false names are denoted by enclosing them in quotation marks. All other names are real.  Please feel free to use this report in any way which may help alleviate the suffering of the peoples of Burma.

TOPIC SUMMARY

Shootings and killings of refugees (Interview #1,2,3,4,5, 7,12,13,14,16,17, 18,19,20,21,22,23,24,26), arrest torture and detention of refugees (Int #1,6,7,8,9,10,12,20,28), disappearances (Int #15), extortion (Int #9,10,25,28), shootings in villages (Int #26), forced labour (Int #12,26), forced portering (Int #27), robbery (Int #10,11,19,24). (See list below for a more comprehensive index)

VICTIMS OF INCIDENTS IN THIS REPORT

The table on the following page lists the victims of the main abuses mentioned in this report All the Battalions listed are in #44 Light Infantry Division IB = Infantry Battalion, LIB = Light Infantry Battalion. IB #1 and LIB #3 have both been rotated home now, and LIB #9 arrived in August. Refugees say LIB #9 is much worse than the others. Note: all numeric dates throughout this report are given in dd/mm/yy format. Names enclosed in quotation marks have been changed to protect interviewees.



No.


Date


Name


Age


Sex


Incident


Refugee at

Battalion
No.


Int. #

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48

Jan/94
Jan/94
19/2/94
19/2/94
19/2/94
19/2/94
28/2/94
28/2/94
28/2/94
28/2/94
Apr/94
4/5/94
May/94
5/6/94
5/6/94
3/7/94
3/7/94
July/94
July/94
20/8/94
20/8/94
21/8/94
2/9/94
3/9/94
3/9/94
3/9/94
19/9/94
3/10/94
3/10/94
27/10/94
28/10/94
28/10/94
29/10/94
29/10/94
29/10/94
29/10/94
29/10/94
29/10/94
29/10/94
30/10/94
30/10/94
8/11/94
9/11/94
9/11/94
9/11/94
9/11/94
9/11/94
26/11/94
Pa Dee Mah
"Saw Po Thay"
Pa Wah Mu
Kalay Tay
"Pa Kyaw"
Saw Wih
Pa Doh
"Maung Tay"
Ta Bwey
Thaw Aye
"Saw Ler Wah"
Kyi Way
"Pa Boe"
"Pa Htoo"
name unknown
Saw Kya Po
Pa Yah
Po Htoo Doh
"Pa Lah"
Pa Noh Ter
Pa Noh Kee
Po Tha Htoo
Saw Eh Say
Kwe Tha
"Saw Ler Thu"
"Saw Bway"
"Thein Lwin"
Maung Tin
Pa Paw
Naw Koh Mit
Pa Klih Bo
Pa Dee Dee
Saw Tah Kee
Maung Kyaw Pu
"Saw Bo Gyi"
Day Wah
Ah Toe
"Naw Tee Ker"
"Kaw Thaw"
Pleh Ghaw
"Aung Htoo"
"Maung Aye"
"Toe Aung"
"Naw Paw Kee"
Mi Sho
Ma Tay Mying
Pu Lu
"Htoo Klay"

50
18
35
40
23
?
40
40
25
16
32
24
29
38
19
34
28
60
38
36
36
19
27
39
30
34
24
38
50+
19
43
15
30
27
42
27
18
27
21
35
35
32
42
45
40
21
21
48

M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
F
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
F
M
M
M
M
M
F
F
F
M
M

Shot dead
Shot at
Shot dead
Shot dead
Shot at
Shot at
Shot, wounded
Shot, wounded
Shot, wounded
Shot, wounded
Arrested, detained
Shot, wounded
Detained, tortured
Shot, wounded
Arrested, detained
Disappeared
Disappeared
Detained, tortured
Shot, wounded
Shot dead
Shot dead
Shot at, drowned
Shot at, drowned
Shot dead
Shot, wounded
Robbed
Detained, tortured
Disappeared
Disappeared
Shot at, drowned
Arrested, killed
Arrested, killed
Arrested, still held
Arrested, still held
Arrested, robbed
Shot dead
Shot dead
Shot at
Shot at
Shot dead
Arrested
Escaped porter
Arrested, extortion
Arrested, extortion
Arrested, extortion
Arrested, extortion
Extortion
Arrested, extortion

Kamaw Lay Ko
"
Tala Oh Kla
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
Gray Hta
Noh Pa Doh
Noh Pa Doh
Don Pa Kiang
"
"
"
Noh Pa Doh
Gray Hta
Tala Oh Kla
"
"
Noh Pa Doh
Ka Na Su
Don Pa Kiang
Ka Na Su
Noh Pa Doh
Kamaw Lay Ko
"
Wah Pa
Kler Ko
Kler Ko
Noh Pa Doh
"
"
"
"
"
Don Pa Kiang
Kler Ko
Kler Ko
"
Noh Pa Doh
"
"
"
"
Tala Oh Kla

IB ?
IB ?
IB 1
IB 1
IB 1
IB 1
IB 1
IB 1
IB 1
IB 1
LIB ?
LIB 3
LIB 3
LIB 3
LIB 3
LIB 3
LIB 3
LIB 3
LIB ?
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
IB ?
IB ?
LIB 9
LIB ?
LIB ?
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
LIB 9
24
24
21,22
21,22
22
21
23
23
23
23
28
n/a
12
20
20
n/a
n/a
9,10
26
16
16
16
4,3
17,18,19
17
19
6
15
15
n/a
13,14
13,14
7,8,2,10
8,7,10
11
2,3,5,12,7
2,3,4
3,2
2
1
1
27
9,10
9,10
9,10
9,10
9,10
25

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#1

NAME: "Aung Htoo"                     SEX: M                 AGE: 35        Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Noh Po Kee village, Pa'an District - now in Kler Ko refugee camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Single

We came to Thailand about 10 years ago because we were afraid of the Burmese, so we ran. They tortured people. We didn't dare stay anymore. The whole village came. Nobody lives there anymore. The Burmese never arrest us here, but in our village they shot people every time they saw them. This year I went back to Noh Po Kee on October 30th, because it’s not so far. My uncle and I went to collect betelnut, and we were staying in a little field hut. He went to look for betelnut in the village while I stayed in the hut. I was cooking rice for us. Then I turned my head and I saw a Burmese soldier. Just then another soldier ran up behind me and stuck his gun against my back. He had come up running, and I hadn't seen him. There were 3 of them, but then more came. They said "Don't run away". Then they took me and the officer tied me up to a tree. They asked me, "Do any [Karen] soldiers stay here? How many?" I answered, "Sometimes many, sometimes few." They also asked about the refugees. They asked, "Do you sometimes go to the refugee camp?", and I said "No, I never go." if I said I went, they would have killed me.

At 9 o'clock [a.m.] my uncle came back from the village to eat with me, and he met the soldiers along the path. I heard the sound of his shouting from over by the cliff. I also heard gunshots: "Ta! Tal Ta!" I couldn't count them - 7, 8, or 10 gunshots, I think. I never saw him after that. The soldiers tied me up and tied one of my hands, so I couldn't walk ["Aung Htoo"'s leg is deformed from polio, and he can only walk slowly and with difficulty, leaning on a stick. He still has a mark on his wrist from the rope he was tied with.]. Then they said they would come with me and take me halfway home. They carried me a short way, then they told me to go back home alone. They didn't beat me but they would have beaten anyone else.

My uncle's name was Pleh Ghaw. He was 35. When I got back here, some villagers went to look for my uncle. They found his dead body the next day [October 31]. They saw it, but I didn't ask them how many wounds there were. I couldn't go there anymore. We used to survive by growing betelnut, but now we can't, neither here [in Thailand] nor there.

[Pleh Ghaw's widow added: "Nobody told me about the body. If they told me, I feel like I would die! I thought I would go there with them, but I couldn't. If you ask them about the body they can tell you. Nobody told me anything. I couldn't eat anything, and I still can't. Nobody would tell me if he died or didn't die. We have 3 children - the eldest is a girl, 15 years old. The second is a son, aged 12. The third is 11. I just have to stay here like this, and now my children are sick. We have nothing, and we can't buy anything. We just have rice that people give us. My head feels very heavy, and my eyes are dark."]

[Note: the man who found the body reported that Pleh Ghaw was hit in the chest by 2 bullets. There were no visible marks of torture.]

============================================================

#2

NAME: "Kaw Thaw"                         SEX: M                 AGE: 21        Karen Christian farmer/boat driver
ADDRESS: Gker Ghaw village, Myawaddy Township - now living in Beh Klaw refugee camp, Thailand; interviewed at Don Pa Kiang camp
FAMILY: Single, 2 brothers and 3 sisters

I have been in Thailand for 7 years, because my father was in the KNU [Karen National Union] so we found it very hard to stay in our village in Burma. I stay in Mae La [a refugee camp also known as Beh Klaw, 60 km. north of Mae Sot] but I came up here to visit my uncle. On October 29 [1994] I went to the other side of the Moei River and went fishing. There is a place to fish a little ways from the river. That day many others had gone to fish before me [other witnesses confirm that there were 15 people fishing at the pond]. while we were all fishing at the pond at about 11:30 a.m., we heard people calling us from Noh Pa Doh on the Thai side of the river. They yelled, "Don't come back!", but we didn’t hear them well and we thought they were shouting "Come back quickly?"

Only four of us ran toward the riverbank to get back by canoe, but on the way the SLORC soldiers were waiting for us hidden in the bushes. When we passed them they started shooting at us. We didn't see them, but they saw us and started shooting. As we arrived at the riverbank we tried to split up. Two of us ran in one direction and the 2 others ran the other way. I was with Day Wah. I jumped and dived into the river, and Day Wah jumped in the boat. The soldiers were sitting and shooting at us from the bushes along the path. They shot at me while I was running but they didn't get me because I dived into the water. They shot Teacher Day Wah first. Two soldiers shot at him, one sitting and one standing, with a G3 and a carbine [G3 is the standard Burma Army automatic assault rifle; carbine is a bolt-action rifle, usually carried by officers or NCOs]. Day Wah was hit by a G3 bullet in the chest and he died immediately. He fell into the water while I was in the water. After they shot Day Wah I saw the 2 soldiers running back into the bushes. I tried to swim across the river with only my nose above the water and the rest of my body underwater. When I got to the other side I could see that the soldiers weren't there anymore so I got out of the water. I just sat there. I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh, but I couldn't. I just rested for a while and then came back to the village.

Across the river there is bamboo, and behind that there are fields. There were 2 soldiers shooting at us, and I saw 4 others hiding in the bamboo. The other 2 villagers ran further down the river, took off their trousers and started swimming. They were one man and one woman. Then the soldiers arrived at the riverbank. The woman couldn't swim and asked the man to take her across the river, but he couldn't. He tried to help her but he let her go when the soldiers started shooting. The soldiers shot at the woman. I looked downriver and saw this while I was floating in the river. I also saw Teacher Day Wah fall into the water, and I saw 2 people with the soldiers at the riverside, one of them tied up with his hands behind his back. I saw one soldier shaking the man and shooting his gun in the air right beside the man's ear. It was the disabled man. [Saw Tah Kee: see testimony #7 by "Pi Lah Ghay", his mother.] Then they all disappeared into the bamboo.

The other people who were at the pond hid in the bushes and after the soldiers left they all came back. Nothing happened to them. Day Wah was my "uncle". His sister is married to my uncle. He Was 27 years old and single, and he was the teacher in Noh Pa Doh primary school. As for me, I feel bitterness and pain for what SLORC is doing to the people. I’m afraid of them. I was helping my uncle in his peanut field, but now I don't dare go anymore. There is nothing we can do about that - the weeds will just grow over everything.

============================================================

#3

NAME: "Naw Tee Ker"                     SEX: F                 AGE: 27        Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Wah Klay village, Myawaddy Township - now living in Noh Pa Doh, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 4 children aged 6 to 10 years

I came to stay with my husband in Noh Pa Doh after we got married 10 years ago. I was afraid of the Burmese because they often came to the village and arrested people to be porters. People were afraid and ran away. My brother-in-law was arrested and they took him to Kway Sha, and his relatives had to pay 10,000 Baht [US$400] to get him free. That's when I came here. We have a field where we grow banana, jackfruit and mango on the other side of the river, but I didn't see soldiers there until this time. The SLORC soldiers often steal our fruit, though - and they don't just take the fruit, they break off the whole branch.

I went over on October 29th to catch fish. At least 10 people went along. Then we heard people shouting at us not to go back to the river; "Don't come back". We didn’t know who was shouting, and we were afraid so we didn't hear them clearly. Four of us ran back toward the river: me, Ah Toe, Day Wah and his nephew. My friends who stayed and hid in the bushes yelled for us to come back to them because SLORC was in front of us but we didn't hear them. We just ran because we were afraid and wanted to get to the boat to escape. I followed the others. I heard gunshots so I ran through the bushes for the river because our boat was there so I thought I could escape. We were running for our lives. The SLORC soldiers came from behind us and shot at me but I didn't know. All I heard was the sound of the bullets: "Tchee..twing...twing...". When I got to the river, I saw Ah Toe so I grabbed him and said, "If you're going to swim, I’ll follow you." I cannot swim. I held his hand and asked him to drag me across the river but he said "I'm not strong enough to pull you across." I got in the water and let myself float. I saw the soldiers shooting at me from the riverbank. I tried not to drown. I grabbed a branch and held on. Day Wah called to me to wait for him. I looked up to call back to him and a soldier shot at me, so I didn't dare call. I heard the sound of the bullets hitting the water. I heard one bullet near my ear: "Twing...", and I moved a little and thought "I might be hit". Then another one came and I moved again. Three bullets came very close to me. Then Day Wah turned the boat to come to me, and he was shot and died. His body fell like a pig. He had just started the engine, and the boat went drifting down the river until it hit a bush on the riverbank. I floated with only my nose above the water and I didn't dare look up because the soldiers were shooting at me. Then the soldiers thought that I was dead.

Ah Toe let himself drift down the river. I didn't see him anymore. Later I heard that he was shot in the head in the middle of the river and died. The bullet hit his head and came out through his mouth. He was 18 years old.

I was in the water for about one hour. My whole body except for my nose was hiding under the water, like a dead body. I was holding a branch so I wouldn't float away. I was shivering, and I still have a cold now. In the water I thought, "Live or die, I must stay here". I was so afraid that my heart was not in my body [a Karen expression for extreme fear]. I was afraid the soldiers would see me and find me. I prayed a lot to God. I worried so much about my family. I didn't know if my husband was safe because he was together with me at the pond. I thought, "If I die, what will happen to my children? With whom will they stay?" I imagined my children crying and running alone around the village. When the soldiers left, I wanted to look but I couldn't move, and I was also afraid that a soldier might still be hiding there. Two villagers on the other side of the river saw me floating and didn't know if I was alive or dead. One villager, "Thein Lwin", came with a canoe and helped me after the soldiers had left.

Now I’m still afraid. I never want to see SLORC soldiers again. If I hear of them I'll run away. If we don't run they shoot us, and if we run they also shoot at us. The soldiers said "Don't run away" but then they shot at us, so we must run to escape. Even if we have nothing, they shoot at us. Teacher Day Wah had nothing in his hands but they shot him. He tried to save me. If he had run away somewhere else and not taken the boat I think he would have been safe. At first the soldiers were only shooting at me and Ah Toe, but when they saw Day Wah taking the boat they shot at him too. The soldier who shot at me had 2 guns: a big one [probably G3 assault rifle] and a small one [probably a carbine - this indicates that he was probably an NCO or officer; he may have grabbed the G3 from one of his soldiers]. He used the small one to shoot at me. I only looked once and I only saw him. Later the villagers told me there were 2 soldiers, that one put his gun on the other's shoulder and shot. I didn't dare look again, and I was afraid to see them shooting my friends. I didn't want to see. I had to stop breathing because my nose went under the water several times, and I swallowed water. When Day Wah turned the boat to come and help me I wanted to tell him "Don't come! Just save yourself" but I didn't dare call. Now I've escaped and he didn't, and it is so hard for me to bear. After he died, I couldn't do anything. Four of us ran, two of us died and two of us are still alive, "Kaw Thaw" and I. The other people who were at the fishpond ran in the other direction when they heard the gunshots and escaped. Now my husband still goes across to look after our field, just for a short time each time.

I knew Ah Toe well. He and his brother came here together, and now they are both dead. His brother also died because of SLORC. He saw the soldiers in rainy season, tried to escape and drowned in the river. He wasn't shot, he drowned because he was afraid of them and tried to swim across when the river was flooded. [See related testimony of "Naw Say Muh", #4 in this report.]

============================================================

#4

NAME: "Naw Say Muh"                    SEX: F                AGE: 23       Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Gker Ghaw village, Myawaddy Township - now living in Noh Pa Doh, Thailand
FAMILY: Married: I child aged 14 months

I left my village about 20 years ago with my family because the Burmese were doing their 4 Cuts policy [Four Cuts is a Burma Army policy of systematically terrorizing, executing and driving into destitution civilians in the villages in an attempt to undermine civilian support for opposition forces - this policy is still in full force]. They were killing many people. First we went to Noh Pa Doh on the Karen side of the river for about 10 years, but when the Burmese arrived there we moved to the Thai side. We still have a field on the other side where we grow beans, rice and some vegetables.

On a Friday evening in August 1994 [others indicate that it was 19/8/94] at 5 p.m. my husband was over there setting nets for fish when he saw some SLORC soldiers. They said to him, "Don’t run!", but he was very afraid and he ran towards the river and jumped in to swim across. Then he drowned. [Note: this happened in rainy season, when the Moei river gets 50 m. wide and very fast flowing; furthermore, 1994 saw the highest flood waters in years, causing several deaths] He was with his brother-in-law. My husband ran to the river first and his brother-in-law behind. When they got to the river, his brother-in-law ran upriver along the bank, but my husband thought the soldiers were behind him so he dived into the water. His brother-in-law told me they only saw one soldier, but afterwards my father went there and saw the footprints of many more soldiers. We tried to find my husband's body but we couldn't. We followed the river to Tala Oh Kla but we couldn't find it. The river was too flooded. My husband's name was Saw Eh Say, he was 27 years old. We were married for 2 years.

I still have my parents and my brothers, and they help me to survive. I can't work myself because I have a baby to look after. After my husband's death his brother Ah Toe helped me. We were living in the same house. Then Ah Toe went across the river to fish on October 29th because the previous day my parents had gone and caught a lot of fish there. He wanted to go, so he quickly finished pounding the rice and went with 10 other villagers. Then I heard that SLORC soldiers arrived along the river, and I was very worried because my parents were also there. I went to shout for them not to come back and to run in another direction, but all they heard was "Mother! Mother!", and they ran back towards the river and the SLORC was in front of them. When they started shooting I dared not look. I took my baby and ran back to my house. In the afternoon I tried to find out what had happened, and they told me that Day Wah was dead and Ah Toe was shot in the head in the middle of the river I shivered when I heard it.

They found Day Wah's body at the end of Noh Pa Doh stream, and the next day people found Ah Toe's body just a little way down the river. He was 18 years old. He was still an adolescent. He was going to get married the next Thursday. He died 5 days before his wedding, on Saturday. His parents are already dead, and his elder sister in Burma died of disease. He only had one brother and one sister. Now they are all gone.

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#5

NAME: "Pi Muh Thay"                     SEX: F                AGE: 67         Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Tha Daw Hta village, Papun District - now living in Don Pa Kiang camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 8 children but only 4 left alive, aged 27 to 43, grandchildren

We came to Thailand about 7 years ago because the Burmese disturbed us all the time, tortured people, arrested people and ordered them to be porters and do many other things. First we went to Noh Pa Doh refugee camp, then we moved here. I had 8 children but 3 of my daughters died, two of them from fever. I had only one son, my youngest child, Day Wah. He was 27.

On October 29th I was at home. In the evening people came to tell me that Day Wah was dead. They brought his body on Monday at 4p.m., and we buried him on Tuesday afternoon. This was his third year teaching at the school. He did everything he could to help the family. At first when he died I felt terrible, but I got better. I have to accept it. It must have been his time to die. Sometimes I feel very angry but I can't do anything. Yesterday someone told me that the soldiers have pork curry to eat and I said to him, "Why don't they eat people instead of just animals like pig and cattle? They are cruel enough." People told me Day Wah was trying to save a person when he died.

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#6

NAME: "Thein Lwin"                     SEX: M                 AGE: 24        Burmese Muslim
ADDRESS: Kyaikkaw, Thaton Township - now living in Noh Pa Doh village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, no children

I am from Kyaikkaw. It used to be a village, but now it has become a small town. When I was 14, the soldiers came into the cinema at 9 o'clock at night and took me to be a porter. [The Burmese Army often surrounds local cinemas and takes everyone inside as porters.] That same night, they took us to Pa'an, then in the morning they sent us to Pain Kyone, where we got off the car and they gave us loads. I had to carry 2 shells and we had to climb up Noh Da Ya mountain. I got tired and thirsty and I told them "I can't carry anymore", so I sat down to rest and the soldier kicked me in the chest with his big boots. I went unconscious for a little while. It took us 2 days to reach the mountaintop, then they sent me to the Strategic Command camp near Maw Po Kay and Mae La. I had to stay there for over 5 months, carrying food and water, cutting wood, and building their bunkers. Then they made me carry rations to Mae La. On the way I said to my friend, "I can't carry anymore. Live or die, I’m going to escape", and I dropped my load and ran away. I finally got to Lo Baw and stayed with a Karen medic soldier for the rainy season. Then the Burmese came close and we all had to move to Law Thee Hta. I stayed there for 2 years. I worked carrying water and cutting cane. Then the Burmese came to that place too, and we didn't dare stay anymore so I came to the Thai side at Noh Pa Doh. I got here 6 years ago. Now I’m married, but no children yet. Right now I have no work, but in rainy season I worked growing beans across the river in someone else's field.

I don't remember the exact date SLORC arrested me but it was Taw Tha Lay month [on the lunar calendar: Sept 4-Oct 3/94]. In the morning I went to sliver bamboo to use in tying off the beans, and I met the soldiers. There were 3 of them hiding in the bamboo. One of them grabbed my hand and the other two pointed their guns at me. They took me to their camp. The soldiers beat me and punched me. They tied up my hands and ordered me to lie down, then they walked on my shins in their boots. Then they rolled an iron bar up and down my shins [this is an extremely painful form o torture, and "Thein Lwin" still has scars from it]. At their camp they said "You are a soldier! Don't lie! I recognize you!" They thought I was a Karen soldier. The soldier said "When I’m in this area I go around every month or two, and I’ve seen you." I said "No", and he said "You are lying. You are hiding something." He grabbed my hair, covered my head with a plastic sheet and tied it until I couldn't breathe. When I was suffocating, I shook my head but they kept the sheet on awhile longer, then they took it off. My nose started bleeding. All this happened the day I was captured and the next day. The third day they asked me "How long have you been around here?" I said "About 3 years", and he said "The people working getting logs are soldiers, right?!" I told him, "They are not soldiers. They are villagers. They pile some short logs [for the Thais] and get paid a few Baht". The same day they asked me about this 2 or 3 times. Then he told me that I was lying. He said "I recognize you. I've seen you delivering rice sacks to them." I said I'd never done that but he said "Yes, yes, you are the one. I recognize you." I'd never delivered any rice sacks, and I'd never seen him before.

On the first day they gave me food, but on the other 3 days they didn't give me any. I only had water to drink. They beat me up every time they asked questions, every day. They punched my face until my head got swollen. I got a wound on my head, here ["Thein Lwin" still has a scar above his left temple where the hair isn't growing anymore]. The first 2 nights they interrogated me and I couldn't sleep. He told me I am a [Karen] soldier. He asked me where my friends [other Karen soldiers] are. In the night, they covered my mouth and nose with a piece of cloth and poured water on it so I couldn't breathe.

The fourth day they put me in a hole in the daytime. I overheard one of the commanders saying "This evening more soldiers will come and we have to go fetch them. Is anyone from #4 Company here?" The other said "Yes. You go and tell them to get ready to go." Soon after they left, a soldier came and grabbed my throat tightly, punched me in the face and my nose bled so much that it clotted in my nostrils and I had to pull it out with my fingers so I could breathe. After he hit me I pretended to go unconscious. He said "Tomorrow I'll come again and ask again. If you lie, think about this, you will die." Then he left. At dusk, I stood up and my whole body was aching. I saw a soldier sitting with his gun at another hole. I thought there must only be a few soldiers around because the others had gone to fetch the new soldiers. I looked the other way and I saw soldiers making a fire and hanging two messtins over it. One soldier was lighting a candle and talking to the radio, and the other was writing. I didn't see any others, so I thought "I must escape now, or I might die". So I climbed out of the hole, got into a trench and followed it. There was a sentry on the bunker guarding the entrance, but it was already dark and I ran behind him. I got away. When I got to the stream, I heard 2 or 3 gunshots. I ran for about 2 hours, and arrived back at the [Moei] riverbank at 8 or 9 p.m.

The soldiers were from #44 Division, #9 Light Infantry Battalion. I saw "44" and a small "9" on their badges. There were 4 soldiers who asked me questions, and they all beat me up. One of them was named Bu Paw or Eh Paw, I'm not sure. I escaped one month ago and I haven't been back across the river since. Now I'm staying with my parents-in-law. I have no work, I only have debts and no money to pay them back. [Note: When Day Wah and Ah Toe were shot dead on Oct 29th, it was "Thein Lwin" who rescued "Naw Tee Ker" from the river - see her testimony, #3 in this report]

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#7

NAME: "Pi Lah Ghay"                         SEX: F                    AGE: 74        Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Pee Ta Ka village, Pain Kyone Township, Pa'an Dist. - now in Noh Pa Doh, Thailand
FAMILY: 4 children aged 30 to 43, grandchildren

When I was in Pee Ta Ka village, people chose me to be headwoman. The village head has to stay in the village all the time because when SLORC comes and demands things like porters, the headperson has to deal with them or else they go and make trouble for the villagers, and the SLORC also orders the headperson to go here and there all the time. The SLORC camp is near the village, in Paw Yin Pu, so they could come every day when they wanted. I was too old and weak to go here and there whenever SLORC ordered me. I couldn't do it, so I left the village. The villagers liked me and wanted me to go back, but I didn't dare to stay there anymore. I came to Thailand about 5 years ago.

My son went across the river on October 29 to work in his peanut field. The SLORC captured him while he was covering his peanut seeds with soil, with the hoe still in his hands. He was together with "Daw Hla Thein"'s husband [Maung Kyaw Pu - see 'Daw Hla Thein"'s testimony, #8]. There were other people there but they ran away when they saw soldiers. But when these two saw the soldiers they were already too close, so they didn't dare run. [Another woman added, "It was just the other side of the bamboo from where the soldiers took "Saw Bo Gyi"'s watch. It happened at about the same time."] Now they are holding my son, and he still hasn't been released. My son's name is Saw Tah Kee. He is 30 years old. His arms don't work well and also his legs are not good. When he walks, sometimes he falls down by himself and he cannot speak clearly. He stutters. When he was a child he was seriously ill, and he became this way. [He probably suffered from polio.]

I went over to my son's farm with "Daw Hla Thein" to wait for SLORC to get news. I saw them only yesterday [Nov. 9]. I was fishing with "Daw Hla Thein" when my daughter called me that they were coming. I asked "Daw Hla Thein" if she would go with me and she said "In a short time". I couldn't wait and I hurried toward them. I saw footprints but no soldiers, so I went to the place where they captured my son but I saw nothing. On the way back I saw soldiers hiding in the bamboo but they didn't see me. I was behind them, so I made a noise and then they saw me and called me and I went to them and greeted them. One of them pointed his pistol [Note: only officers, and sometimes NCOs, carry pistols] and said, "If you want to die, don't tell the truth. If you don't want to die, tell the truth. Are there any walkie-talkies around here?" I answered "No." He said, "I know there are walkie-talkies because at night I heard the sound." I said, "I’ve got grey hair, I am old, I don't lie. If you see any walkie-talkies around here you can kill me. If you don't believe me, search. There are no walkie-talkies." Then he put his gun away and I asked, "Did you bring my son with you?" He said "Who is your son?" I told him and he said, "Now he is in our camp." I asked "Why didn't you bring him?", and he said, "He's in the camp, so it's not easy to release him. Maybe later. We won't kill him. We didn't beat him, and we serve him very good food. What would you do if I killed him?" I said, "I can't do anything. He's in your hands, so you can kill him and I can't do anything." He asked me, "Weren't you afraid to come here?", so I told him, "No, we are all human beings. I’m not afraid of anything, because I want my son. I wanted to go to your camp, but I don't know the way." Then the soldier said he was hungry, and "Let's eat some rice. I told my daughter to serve them rice. Then the soldier said, "You can eat with me. We're not the cruel ones." He said, "One day, they shot 2 people, one on a boat [Day Wah] and one in the river [Ah Toe]. I was told the one on the boat was a KNU leader. [Karen National Union]" I said, "There are no KNU leaders in Noh Pa Doh. How can you look for a KNU leader on the Thai side? He was a teacher, a single man. My grandchildren studied in his school." The soldier said, "Then why did he run from us?" I answered, "When you come you arrest everyone you can, so he tried to escape because he was afraid of you." The, soldier said, "That teacher had a gun" and I said, "He didn't have any gun." He said, "I was told there was a gun in his boat. Where was he hit?" I showed him and said "But the boy who was swimming, he was hit in the back of his head." Then the soldier told me, "I’m not the one who shot them. I don't know who shot them. Your son will be released, but later." I said, "Please release him soon", and he said, "I’ll ask permission of the column commander. If we release him, it will be west of Noh Pa Doh, further away."

They didn't tell me why they arrested my son and they didn't ask for money. He said, "Don't waste your money to get your son. When his time's up, we'll send him back to you." I couldn't tell his rank, I only saw the badge with "44" on it [#44 Light Infantry Division]. I asked permission to go and see my son, but they wouldn't let me. I asked them, "If he is alive, tell me, but if you have killed him, please tell me the truth." You can't do anything, whether you believe them or not. "I like your son so I won't kill him", the soldier told me. "I never kill anyone who's in my hands. We know that your son is disabled. We don't beat him." I keep waiting. When will they release my son? I don't know?. I worry and cry every day. I can't do anything. [As of Dec. 25/94, neither Saw Tah Kee nor Maung Kyaw Pu, age 55, had been released. They are being held by #9 Light Infantry Battalion of #44 Light Infantry Division, either at "Camp 606" or "Camp 1153". See also "Kaw Thaw"'s testimony about Oct 29th: "I saw 2 people with the soldiers at the riverside, one of them tied up with his hands behind his back. I saw one soldier shaking the man and shooting his gun in the air right beside the man's ear. It was the disabled man" The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Burma, Mr. Yozo Yokota, is aware of their case, and KHRG has notified the UN Centre for Human Rights and Amnesty International and requested action on their behalf.]

The soldier told me there are Karen soldiers around Noh Pa Doh. I said, "No. Noh Pa Doh is Thailand, Karen soldiers can't stay there." I told him I only see Thais and villagers, never people with guns. He said, "Really?" [Note: the soldier's comments about Karen soldiers in refugee camps and Day Wah being a "KNU leader" with a gun are revealing about the type of propaganda SLORC feeds its soldiers to get them to shoot refugees. SLORC has always publicly stated, "There are no refugees, only insurgents in the disguise of refugees."]   

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#8

NAME: "Daw Hla Thein"                    SEX: F                AGE: 65         Pwo Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Mya Pin village, Pa'an District - now living in Noh Pa Doh village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 2 children aged 35 and 40

I came here 5 or 6 years ago because we lost everything there. We had a field but the government took it. My father loaned the field to the government because he needed to borrow money to buy goods to trade. Then we couldn't pay back the money so they took the land. Now we have a field on the other side of the river where we grow beans. On October 29th, my husband crossed the river with "Pi Lah Ghay"'s son to work the field and they were arrested. I went across the river with "Pi Lah Ghay" to see the SLORC soldiers, but the soldiers wouldn't tell me anything. When I asked about my husband, the soldier said, "Don't worry. He's alive." They told me they will release him sometime later. My husband's name is Maung Pu [full name Maung Kyaw Pu]. He is younger than me, 55 years old. His health is not very good - over a year ago, he had to have an operation because of gastric problems. Now he always has to take medicine, but where he is now I don't know if he is getting any medicine or not. He didn't have any medicine with him. The SLORC told me that they will release him and that they are looking after him. Even if I don't believe them, I don't know what to do. I wanted to go see him but they wouldn't let me.

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#9

NAME: "Toe Aung"                     SEX: M                 AGE: 42        Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Haw Pwee Der village, Papun Township - now living in Noh Pa Doh village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 5 children aged 8 to 21 years

We have been in Thailand for 10 years now, because we couldn't stay in our village any longer. Although we worked, we could never get enough to survive. Here it is better. Now I grow beans and rice on the other side of the river [in Burma]. It’s not good enough but we can survive. It's better than in our village.

Yesterday [Nov. 9/94] I went across to my field to thresh the paddy at 8 a.m. Before I got to my field, I saw Burmese soldiers near the riverside. There were 6 soldiers and one Burmese porter. They were beside the bamboo. While I was walking by, they punched me. One of them grabbed me and they pointed their guns at me. They asked me "Where is the sawmill?" I told them that I had heard the sound of the sawmill but I didn't know exactly where it was. Then they asked me, "In that village [Noh Pa Doh, on the Thai side] are there any Kaw Thoo Lei soldiers?" [Karen soldiers] I said "No". Three soldiers touched me with their guns. They tied me up with my arms behind my back. They took me to the place where they had heard the sound of the sawmill coming from. I had to follow behind them. We arrived at the sawmill, but there was nothing left there. Then we came back. They saw some cut wood and asked me, "Who are the people who cut this wood?" I said "I don't know". Then they asked me if it would be possible to meet with the [Noh Pa Doh] village leader and also if there is a school there. I said "Yes".

We came back along the riverside. A soldier was holding the rope that I was tied up with, and his officer told him to hide the rope in the basket I was carrying so that nobody [on the Thai side] would see that I was tied up. I had a pumpkin and some vegetables in my basket. We arrived opposite Noh Pa Doh at 2 p.m. The soldiers called across the river to the villagers to tell the schoolteacher to bring some wine. The soldiers said, "If she comes to meet you, we will release you." The schooteacher came along with 2 other women, but they came without anything so the soldiers asked for wine again. [Note: this was the new schoolteacher who had just been chosen to replace Day Wah, who was murdered by Burmese soldiers on Oct. 29th.] We were there until 3 p.m. Then they said "If you send us to Pa Dee Kee Hta we will release you." [Pa Dee Kee Hta is a short distance downriver by boat] They didn't give us any food, and not even water. I had a bit of water left and we all drank from that. I was tied up the whole time.

My son-in-law came by boat to help us, but one boat was not enough for everyone so they ordered another man to come with his boat as well. Then we all went to Pa Dee Kee Hta together with the 3 women. On the way to Pa Dee Kee Hta they untied me. Then they released us all in Pa Dee Kee Hta at 6 p.m. We had to walk back to Noh Pa Doh because we couldn't paddle the boat back upstream. We just crossed the river in the boat and then walked.

My wife's uncle Po Htoo Doh [age 60] was also arrested, in July this year. He is from a village near Hlaing Bwe town. He also has a hut across the river, near my hut. He worked there to grow beans. First they arrested a woman and held her for 3 hours, then they released her and arrested him. His wife and daughter were with him but they weren't arrested. They arrested him when he was in his hut, blind folded him and spun him around so he wouldn't know directions. He was tied up, and then they took him to their camp [either Camp 606 or Camp 1153, the 2 camps in the area, occupied since August by LIB #9]. When they got to Wa Mi village they tightened the rope. Then when they got to their camp they put his legs in the stocks and kept him like that all the time for 2 months. [SLORC often uses mediaeval-style leg stocks of bamboo or wood to hold prisoners in a prone position] Then they held him for another month in their camp near Thingan Nyi Nau. They released him there. It was 3 months altogether. When the commander interrogated him they hit him, beat him and punched him. They kicked him and broke one of his ribs. They pushed a gun barrel into his mouth and broke two of his teeth. They covered his face very tightly so he was suffocating, then they took off the cover and asked him questions. They poured water in his nose until he almost died. After that he couldn't even take a bath, because his broken rib was so painful. After he was released in Thingan Nyi Nau, he went to Dta Oh village, and later he came back to Noh Pa Doh.

I have to go back across again because now the paddy is ready and the work is not finished. I have to carry it all across to this side. It will be finished in 2 days' time. I’ll just have to be very careful and watch. I’m afraid, but I have to go.

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#10

NAME: "Naw Paw Kee"                     SEX: F                AGE: 45         Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Dta Oh village, Myawaddy Township - now living inNoh Pa Doh village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 4 children aged 16 to 24 years

We came across to Thailand 10 years ago, first to Noh Pa Doh refugee camp [there was a refugee camp at Noh Pa Doh, but after SLORC occupied the opposite side of the river it had to move to Don Pa Kiang for safety], then to Don Pa Kiang. We have a field across the river, but this year the harvest was not good and it wasn't enough for us to eat [due to the floods]. We have to go and farm there even though we are afraid of SLORC, because we have to survive.

I was a schoolteacher before, when I was single. Now I am a schoolteacher again. [She has replaced Day Wah, who was murdered by SOQRC on 29 October, as primary school teacher in Noh Pa Doh] Yesterday [Nov. 9/94] we were in the school. Classes weren't finished yet. Then somebody came and told us that there were a lot of soldiers at the other side of the river. We were very scared, so I told the students to all go home quietly. A boy came to me and said "Grandmother, please go across the river. They have arrested someone." I was very afraid and I grabbed my bag so I could run away, but then people gave me one duck to take across the river so the soldiers would set the villager free. When I arrived at the river the soldiers called across, "Not a duck, we want cheroots", but we didn't have any cheroots so I took 2 packages of cigarettes. Then I started paddling a canoe across but I couldn't paddle and the canoe went in all directions ["Naw Paw Kee" had no experience with canoes]. I was with "Toe Aung"'s wife Mi Sho, 40 years old, and his daughter-in-law Ma Tay Myint, who is 21. I had to go because I can speak Burmese and they can't. We can't swim and we were afraid, but there was nothing we could do about it because they ordered us to come. Then they laughed at us because we couldn't control the canoe.

When we got across the river we saw "Toe Aung" tied up and the soldiers asked me "Where do you live? What is your occupation?" I said I am a farmer. They asked if there were Kaw Thoo Lei soldiers on the Thai side and I said "No". They asked me, "Are there any sawmills around here? Do you want to work in the sawmill? We'll find one for you." But I said I didn't want to work in a sawmill. I think they want to know about the sawmills because they heard there is logging around here and that the wood is very cheap. I don't know about sawmills, I'm not interested in that. Some Thais own sawmills further up the river.

It was 2:30 p.m. when we met the soldiers. There were six soldiers and one porter - they always come in groups of six. They said, "If you don't like us then give us chicken and wine and we'll leave." We called across the river for other villagers to bring wine and chicken. First they asked for 3 chickens, but we didn't have any. Then they asked for 6 bottles of alcohol but we could only give them two. They also asked for cheroots, 2 packages of 50, and bananas, pumpkins, and other things. A SLORC captain crossed the river in a boat. He stayed in the boat and got the things from the villagers. When he came back he said, "If you take us to Pa Dee Kee Hta we'll release you." They needed 2 boats for everyone, so Pu Lu, who is 21, brought another boat. When we got to Pa Dee Kee Hta they released all of us.

A soldier asked me where I used to live and I said Dta Oh. He looked at a map and asked me if I had a farm on the Burma side of the river and I said "Yes". He said the soldiers wouldn't make any trouble for me, but I said, "What if other soldiers come and shoot at us?" They couldn't answer that question. I said, "We are afraid when you call us to cross the river. Last time when some villagers came over, they were killed." He said it wasn't him who killed them. He said "It wasn't me who killed Thra Day Wah. And as for the 2 men we are holding, they are not dead. We are feeding them well." We didn't ask them about those 2 men, they just told us [this refers to Saw Tah Kee and Maung Kyaw Pu - see testimonies #7 & #8 in this report]. They didn't say where they are being held, only that it is about 1 hour away.

Now we owe 300 Baht [US$12] for what we had to give them and we have to pay it back. We'll have to find wood that we can sell or catch wild chickens and sell them. If they order you to come across the river, you have to go! But next time I'll shout at them from this side that I have no money to give them and I'll run away. This time I took off my jacket before going across, because I didn't want them to steal it from me. In rainy season my husband went across to work in his paddy field, and some soldiers came to a sawmill further up the river and started shooting. My husband heard it and ran away leaving all his things, knife, basket, clothing, shoes, a chemical sprayer, and the soldiers stole everything. The sprayer cost 850 Baht [US$34]. They also took farm tools, plates, and 2 blankets. That was a Sunday in July. They also robbed the other huts around there. In rainy season the SLORC also arrested a woman named Toe Thu Mo along with her uncle Po Htoo Doh who is 60 years old. They released her after 3 hours, but they held him for 3 months before he arrived back.

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#11

NAME: "Saw Bo Gyi"                     SEX: M                 AGE: 42        Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Dta Oh village, Myawaddy Township - now living in Noh Pa Doh village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 5 children aged 5 to 16 years

I came to Noh Pa Doh from my village 10 years ago because the Burmese came and captured villagers and shot their guns in our village. Now I have a field on the other side of the river where I grow bananas, mangos and other things. On October 29th this year, I went over there to make charcoal together with a friend. We don't have a hut over there, we just sleep under the bamboo. At about 11 a.m. I was together with my friend weaving a basket [of bamboo]. I heard a sound like something cracking, and I suddenly saw one soldier creeping very close to me. He came from behind me and scared me. He pointed his gun at me. I had a watch on my wrist. With one hand he motioned me to take off my watch, and with his other hand he was ready to shoot. He didn't want to speak loudly and he just said "Take off... take off..." I took off my watch and moved to give it to him but he didn't want me to come too close so he ordered me to throw it to him: "Throw... throw... throw". So I threw it to him, and he put it in his pocket. After that, he looked behind him and I saw a Corporal coming.

When the Corporal arrived, the soldier asked me, "Are there any Karen soldiers here?" While he asked me, the Corporal came behind and started taking my things from my sleeping-place. Just then my friend ran away. The soldier tried to run after him for a few steps, then he pointed his gun at me and ordered me, "Call your friend back or I'll shoot you now." I said "Please wait. I'll call him". When I called my friend, the Corporal pointed his M79 gun at me [an M79 is a rifle-sized grenade launcher] and put it against my back. I was only wearing a pair of shorts. The other soldier was searching for something, and a third soldier arrived. The Corporal pushed his gun into my back 2 or 3 times and shouted, "If you don't call your friend I'll kill you now! Call quickly!" We were beside a slope and I told him I'd climb up a little bit to call my friend. The other 2 soldiers were busy searching through my things, so then I pushed the Corporal aside and ran away. I thought, "I'll have to push him now or I won't escape." There was a lot of bamboo, so they couldn't see me and I escaped. I kept running until I came to the river. I saw my friend - he was swimming and he had almost reached the other bank. I was too tired to swim and I saw a boat, so I took it to cross the river. When I got on the boat I heard the gunshots that killed Teacher Day Wah, but I didn't know that at the time - I just heard gunshots. It was the same group of soldiers. I know because some villagers saw from the riverside that one soldier was carrying the chemical sprayer they stole from me.

From me they stole pots, some rice, a knife, a machete, a chemical sprayer, 2 plates, a pair of worn-out trousers and a sarong. Now I'm too afraid to go back over there again. A few days ago I crossed but came back very quickly. I don’t dare to go and get the charcoal I made.

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#12

NAME: "Pa Boe"                             SEX: M                 AGE: 29        Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Gker Ghaw village, Myawaddy Township - now living in Noh Pa Doh, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 2 children aged 9 months and 3 years

I came to Thailand about 10 years ago because the Burmese oppressed us. Whenever they came to our village they took people to be porters, and I was afraid of that. Now I survive as a day labourer on the Thai farms around here. I get 30 or 40 Baht [US$1.20-$1.60] per day. In dry season I also cut the leaves of wild banana trees and sell them. I get 10 Baht for 1 kilo. One Sunday this year [in May 1994 according to others] I went across the river to cut bamboo. On a hill about 1.5 km. from the river where the path to Meh Ma Laing meets the path to Noh Pa Doh, I saw about 30 soldiers around, and 5 soldiers hiding in the bamboo arrested me. I was alone. They took me to their company commander. When I arrived there they tied me up at once. They tied me around my neck and tied my arms behind my back. One soldier pointed his gun very closely at my chest, while the others also guarded me with their guns. Then they slapped me, punched me in the face and pointed a carbine rifle at my forehead. They asked me about their enemies and asked where the sawmill is. They ordered me to tell them. I told them, "I don't know where the Karen soldiers are." Then he said, "You know! You are a spy!" Then they killed my dog, and they said, "You must die like your dog!"

This happened on the hill behind the sawmill. Then they took me to the riverbank. When we got there, they saw 4 people coming across the river and went to ambush them. They arrested them and took the engine of the sawmill, then they took us all to their camp. The first evening at the camp, they punched me in the face and gave me a big bruise for about 2 weeks. They punched me on the jaw and my mouth bled. They kicked me in the neck while I was sitting. They hit me in the head with a rifle butt, and then they pointed the rifle barrel and touched it against my throat. A soldier came in and stuck the barrel of a carbine rifle in my mouth, then he shook it around until my mouth was bleeding. That night, I was left with my hands tied behind my back. An officer came and told the soldiers. "If you tie him like that, he won't be able to sleep." The next day they put my legs in the stocks [mediaeval-style leg stocks - the victim sits with his legs stretched out flat and his ankles clamped between 2 horizontal segments of bamboo], and they tied one of my hands to a bamboo with rope. They told me that I am a spy.

They kept me. like that for about one month. I was always in the stocks. When I had to go to the toilet, they tied my hands behind my back [and released his legs]. I was always in the camp. They kept me in the same place as the porters, separate from the other prisoners. They fed me a little rice and some beans, and in the evening I got sour soup and rice. I was there for 29 days, then the soldiers brought 3 of us down to Htee Kay Po. The other two were also from Noh Pa Doh - one of Hser Nay Mu's workers, and a man originally from Peh Toe. They tied us until our blood couldn't even circulate anymore and took us along. When we got to Htee Kay Po they arrested 6 more people who had come across the river from Tala Oh Kla [refugees from the Thai side]. Then they took us back to the camp together. We slept one night along the way. They tied the hands of 3 of us together, and we had to sleep like buffalos or cattle, all squeezed together. When we got back, they put 2 of the people from Tala Oh Kla in the stocks, Ta Kaw and his friend. They accused Ta Kaw and his friend of being Karen soldiers - maybe because Ta Kaw has long hair. The soldiers kept them separately so I didn't see what they did to them. I was put back with the porters, but not in the stocks. After that we had to work for them twice every day, in the morning and the evening cutting the grass and clearing the compound. It was less than an hour each time. Before we went to Htee Kay Po I got enough food, but after we came back with more prisoners it was never enough.

I was there for another 8 days, then I escaped. There was a wall around the porters' area. Before dawn at about 4:30 a.m. I went to a part of the wall that was in bad condition and pushed the bamboo open until I could squeeze through. Then I ran to the soldiers' toilets, climbed over the fence and ran to the forest. It was raining. I just ran in the dark, and I almost met the soldiers again. I saw their torchlights twice while I was running. I thought I was going to Noh Pa Doh Kee but I arrived ill Noh Po Kee instead. I arrived back the same day, in the morning.

The soldiers were from #3 Light Infantry Battalion [part of #44 Light Infantry Division]. They held me at Kyaw Kay Kee camp, but they called it Kyaw Kay Chaung [a Burmese variation of the Karen name]. Some of the soldiers were Htun Lay Oo, who guarded me when I was arrested, Pah Di, and Nyi Nyi. One of the soldiers who tortured me was Sia Win Sein, I think he is a Corporal. The camp commander beat me, but I don't know his name.

While I was gone my family had to stay with Bu Wah's father [a relative] and he had to look after them. I was across the river again on the day that the soldiers shot Teacher Day Wah [Oct 29]. We were fishing and I didn't know where the soldiers were, so I ran to a boat stop further down the river. I had to run very fast because I heard many gunshots. I came back swimming, and I almost drowned. The soldiers didn't see me because there were clumps of bamboo between them and me. When I was swimming I saw Day Wah turn the boat, then I saw him falling. I knew for sure that he was shot. I swam as quickly as I could, and when I was across I grabbed a branch. I was already tired after running, and after swimming I was exhausted. If some soldiers had followed me I would have died for sure. I don't dare go back over there any more.

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#13

NAME: "Saw Tha Kler"                     SEX: M                    AGE: 45      Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Maw La Kee village, Hlaing Bwe Township, Pa'an District - now in Kler Ko refugee camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 10 children aged 10 months to 17 years

This is our second year in Thailand. We came because the Burmese asked for porters and we didn't have time to work to survive, so we didn't want to stay anymore. I came with my whole family. My second-eldest son went across the river searching for food at the end of October, 4 days before the monthly rice distribution [he went on October 28th]. His name was Pa Dee Dee, he was 15 years old. He should have come back by the end of the month to carry the rice. Several days later, I went across to look for him. I slept one night on the way. Then I found his body, a short way from Wah Kyaw village. There were 2 bodies in an irrigation ditch, covered with grass. The other body was Pa Klih Bo [see following interview]. I didn't look closely at the bodies because they were already badly decomposed, and the people there didn't want me to take them out. We were afraid and in a hurry so we couldn't bury the bodies. I just went with a few people and covered them with more grass because they were already so decomposed. There are many wild vegetables over there, and I used to go get them. But now I don't want to go anymore.

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#14

NAME: "Naw Wah"                     SEX: F                     AGE:         40 Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Wah Kyaw Klo village, Hlaing Bwe Township - now in Kler Ko camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 5 children aged 5 to 20

We escaped from the Burmese and came here about 10 years ago. Everybody in the whole area ran away when they got near. There was fighting going on when we left.

My husband's name was Klih Bo. He was older than me [other sources say he was 43]. At the end of October, he went across the river to search for food in the forest. I expected him back by the end of the month, but I didn't dare go to look for him. Then "Saw Tha Kler" [see preceding interview] came and told me he was dead. Now I can't think of what I will do. Before, I always depended on my husband. Now he's dead and I can't do anything. All we have is the rice and fishpaste we get from the refugee camp. I think we can't survive. No one will support our family

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#15

NAME: "Maung Zaw Oo"                     SEX: M                 AGE: 38            Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Kah Hta village, Pain Kyone Township, Pa'an District - now in Ka Maw Lay Ko refugee camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 4 children aged 1 to 20

We left our village and came here 10 years ago because the Burmese came to our area [they were making an offensive against Maw Po Kay at the time]. This year on the 2nd or 3rd of October, over one month ago, they captured my friends Maung Tin and Pa Paw. Four of us went across, 2 of us in one canoe and Maung Tin and Pa Paw in another. We crossed the river to search for food. When we got across and went up the riverbank, we didn't see them. When I arrived at the hut, I thought they must be out looking for food and that they would come in the evening. I didn't worry about them. But two days after they disappeared, we were sure that SLORC had captured them. I think they must have been captured as soon as they went up the riverbank. when we crossed, we were about 200 metres from them along the river. I didn't see any soldiers or hear any gunshots, but my friend said he heard someone shouting in the distance. After that, people went and saw the footprints of soldiers. They saw by the footprints that the soldiers had been hiding behind a termite mound. It was right at the place where Maung Tin and Pa Paw landed on the riverbank. Nobody found anything else. We cannot guess what the soldiers did to them. Maybe when they passed the soldiers' hiding place, the soldiers came out and grabbed them. The canoe was still just left on the riverbank.

Maung Tin is 38. He has 2 daughters, 8 and 18 years old, but his wife already died. Pa Paw is over 50. His wife is alive but she is blind. They have one daughter, and grandchildren. Their families both stay here in the refugee camp. [Note: the 2 men have probably already been killed, but until this can be confirmed there remains a possibility that they are being held in a SLORC camp or used as porters, and appropriate international pressure should be brought to bear on SLORC on their behalf.]

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#16

NAME: "Saw Ler Doh"                         SEX: M                 AGE: 45      Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Wah Klay village, Myawaddy Township - now in Tala Oh Kla village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 2 children aged 15 and 20

We came to the Thai side because we didn't dare stay there anymore - the Burmese arrested people and used us as slaves and porters. If you didn't escape, they never released you. We've been on this side for 9 years now. I have a field on the other side. I haven't met SLORC over there, but I’ve seen them arrest some friends so I’m afraid of that. In August Pa Noh Ter and 3 others had no [meat] curry, so they went over to dig the ground to catch moles. They caught 6 moles and turned to come back. Then they met with SLORC soldiers, and they were shot at without being asked any questions. There were 4 of them. Pa Noh Ter was shot and died immediately, and the other three made it to the riverbank without being hit. Pa No Ter was shot in the back of the neck and the bullet went out through his forehead, and he was also shot in the back of his shoulder and that bullet came out through his chest. The same day, Pa Noh Kee had also gone to look for food. He was shot in his leg and it was broken, and there was no one there to help him so he died of bleeding. They found his body the next morning, and he had been hit by 2 or 3 bullets. Pa Noh Ter was married with 3 children between 3 and 9 years old. He was 36. Now his wife can't do anything. The relatives invited them to go and stay with them. Pa Noh Kee was about the same age as Pa Noh Ter and was married with 3 children. The youngest is 6 years old.

More than 10 people went across to bury Pa Noh Ter's body. Then the SLORC soldiers came. The villagers had already put the body in the hole but not covered it yet when the soldiers arrived and started shooting at them. They ran back to the river. Po Tha Htoo Was very tired from running, but he tried to swim across the river and he drowned. [Note: it was in rainy season, with the river in full flood.] Nobody else died, and nobody was hit by the bullets. Po Tha Htoo was about 19 years old and single. He had no field on the other side, he just used to go and help in his friends' fields. Me, I don't dare go anywhere. I just do day labour on this side. If there is no work, I have to borrow from my friends.

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#17

NAME: "Saw Ler Thu"                     SEX: M               AGE: 30      Pwo Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Bu Ka Tee village, Pa'an District - now living in Don Pa Kiang refugee camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 4 children aged 3 months to 7 years

I came to Thailand 5 years ago because it was too hard for us to stay in our village. We couldn't get food for ourselves because we had to work for SLORC all the time. I also had to go as a porter twice for 10 days each time. when I went, the soldier who registered my name was drunk and spelt my name incorrectly, so later when they did roll-call they called for "Ler Tay"' and nobody answered. When they found out it was me, they punched me hard in the back and it hurt badly for 2 hours. I had to carry 4 mortar shells in a basket to Noh Pa Doh, Noh Ra, and Noh Mo Kwee for #24 Infantry Battalion.

When I came to Thailand, first I stayed at Ka Na Su, then we couldn't stay there any longer because SLORC was too close, so we moved here. I go across the river [to the Burma side] every 2 or 3 days because I have a bean field there, and sometimes to cut bamboo. I never had any problems until they shot at me, just over 2 months ago [in September/94]. It was 1 p.m. After I ate lunch I went to find bamboo shoots [a staple food in rainy season]. There were 6 of us, spread around there cutting bamboo shoots. My field is right on the riverbank, so I went up away from the river about 10 minutes' walk. I saw 4 soldiers. One shouted, "Don't run away!", and then they shot at me. I just turned and ran away very quickly. The soldiers appeared along the stream where I was with 2 friends cutting bamboo shoots, so I ran up the slope beside the stream. They shot at me many times: "pa, pa, pa,..." One of my friends was running in front of me, and Uncle Kwe Tha was behind - he was hit and he fell down. He tried to run away but he couldn't. One bullet hit my foot, but I still tried to run. I ran into the bushes, so they didn't see me anymore and they didn't follow me.

Uncle Kwe Tha's leg was broken, his right leg. He tried to keep running but he couldn't, so the soldiers captured him. They asked him many questions and afterwards they killed him with a knife right in the chest. They tortured him a lot with a knife. They stabbed him a lot. Some other people found his body the next day. He was 39 years old and has 5 children. The eldest is 12 years old, and the youngest is not even 1 month old. When he died his wife was still pregnant. They live in Ka Na Su.

The rest of us were safe. I stayed in the bushes overnight, then I came back on my own, crawling on my arms and legs by myself I waited at the riverside, and one of my friends came from the other side and got me. When I got here they sent me to the hospital. There was no bullet inside my foot, but now I can't walk. My wife and my brother have to look after my field. They have to be very careful and listen to hear if SLORC is near. My wife and my brother just finished the harvest. My mother-in-law looks after the children.

I don't know what Battalion shot me This happens often at Noh Pa Doh, all the time. My 2 friends Bo Taw Oh and Bo Cher died last year. They went to the other side of the river to find food, and the soldiers shot them. The soldiers are bad people - whenever they find people, they torture and kill them. They are not good to us. I didn't know the soldiers would come. But they just shouted "Don't run!" and shot at us.

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#18

NAME: "Naw Paw Ghay"                     SEX: F                     AGE: 38        Karen Animist farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Cha Ra village, Myawaddy Township - now in Ka Na Su village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 5 children aged 1 month to 12 years

I came over here because the Burmese came and shot their guns in our village at nighttime, so we ran away directly here - first we stayed on the Karen [Burma] side of the river, then we crossed to here. That was nearly 5 years ago. I don't know what date the SLORC killed my husband - it was a Saturday, about 3 months ago during the dead moon [others indicate it was Sept 3/94]. My husband said "Because of the dead moon we have to rest, so I’ll just go look for vegetables." [Animists traditionally rest during the "no moon" period] I didn't go because I had pain in my belly [she was 8 months pregnant at the time]. Two of them went together. When I came back later from the refugee camp hospital, people said they didn't see my husband when everyone else came back. Then they found his body the next morning. It was on the other side of the river, nearly 2 miles away. Over there people often have to run, but if he didn't go over to find vegetables we'd have nothing to eat. My children are very young so I can't do anything to live, no work. [By this time "Naw Paw Ghay" was crying, and the interview could not be continued. See the following interview.]

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#19

NAME: "Saw Bway"                     SEX: M                AGE: 34         Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Cha Ra village, Myawaddy Township - now in Ka Na Su village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 3 children aged 4 to 11

I found "Naw Paw Ghay"'s husband's body. His name was Kwe Tha. He was 39 years old. That day [Sept 3/94] the Burmese soldiers shot at him and he didn't come home. We thought maybe they had arrested him, or shot at him and he was wounded and couldn't come back. We went and searched, and I found his body in a stream in the forest. It was the day after he was killed. Then we knew the SLORC had killed him beside the stream and thrown his body in the stream. It wasn't deep, just one handspan. His body was laying face up. The soldiers had put his hands in his pockets. There were flies all over the body. When we looked closely at the body we could see it wasn't a gunshot, it was a knife wound in his belly. There were 2 wounds, about 2 inches apart, and there was one wound in his back where the knife came out. He was thin, not fat. I looked at the palm of his hand and there was a bullet hole, and his right leg was broken with the bone sticking out. His head was swollen and looked like it had been beaten, and his hair was all standing up out of place. There were knife poke-marks up and down his arms. I saw blood on the ground beside the river, so I guessed that the SLORC had stabbed him there. In the stream there was no blood because the water had washed it away. We were afraid of the Burmese soldiers, so we hurried, picked up the body and came back. We buried him the same day. The body smelled very bad.

The Burmese soldiers have never caught me, but the same day they killed Kwe Tha they burned my hut on the other side of the river. It was a hut I built to rest when I was working. There was nothing in it. Another time they took all the clothes, my plates and my pot that I had left in the hut. If I see SLORC soldiers coming near my farm, I run while they're still far away.

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#20

NAME: "Pa Htoo"                     SEX: M                AGE: 38       Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Cha Ra village, Myawaddy Township - now in Don Pa Kiang camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 3 children aged 6 months, 2 and 5 years

I came to Thailand 9 years ago because we faced many problems and we were afraid of the Burmese. Whenever they saw us they arrested us and forced us to carry things for them, and sometimes they beat us. I had to go as a porter so many times I can't even count them. When they told us to carry we didn't even know how many days it would be, we just had to run away because they never released us for 5 or 10 days. If my back or shoulders hurt too much to carry anymore I told them, and they beat me with sticks or guns, and they kicked us too.

At the beginning of this rainy season [on June 5/94 according to other sources] we were working across the river to plant vegetables, and I went over to cut the grass. There were 2 of us. When we finished our work we were coming back and the SLORC Army followed us, but I didn't notice. They called "Hey!" Then I turned around and saw them, and they started shooting at us. The first bullet hit me in the back [it hit his buttock near the anus and came out through his groin to one side]. I fell down, then I tried to get up and run again. They fired again, and I pretended to be hit, fell down and pretended to be dead. The soldiers came up to me, kicked me on the back and asked, "Why did you run?" I didn't answer, I just laid there with my eyes closed. They asked me if I was Kaw Thoo Lei and many other questions, but I didn't dare answer because I was afraid they'd kill me. Then they looked at me and said, "He'll die soon" so they grabbed me by the arms and legs and threw me away. They threw me under a tree. Then the soldiers left and I called my friends, but they didn't dare come or call back [they were probably already gone]. I was bleeding a lot and I couldn't walk, so I crawled with my hands and came back to the river slowly, slowly, on my own. I couldn't stand up. It was about 300 metres to the riverside. I managed to get there, and then my friends went across and got me.

The boy who was with me was captured, and they held him for I month. Then he ran away from them. When he got back here I asked him what happened and he said the soldiers tied his hands and feet and covered his face. They didn't beat him. They interrogated him for 2 days and then untied him, then they just kept him at their camp without doing anything for a month. I don't know his name because he lives in Burma and only came out here for a short time. He was about 18 or 19.

When I got back I couldn't walk. I asked my friends to take me to the hospital. I couldn't walk for more than one month. [The medic reported that the wound kept abscessing because a piece of gauze had been left inside during cleaning. Finally the gauze was removed, and only then could he begin to walk.] Now I’m much better, but some bits of gauze are still inside. They took out one piece yesterday. There's still a hole wide enough for a pair of scissors, but there's no more pus.

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#21

NAME: "Daw Than Nwe"                     SEX: F                AGE: 36        Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Dta Oh village, Myawaddy Township - now in Tala Oh Kla village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 4 children aged 6 to 16

We ran from the Burmese and came here. We couldn't work in our village. They arrested people,. and we ran away and came here 8 years ago. My husband worked and made a field on the other side of the river. This year when the roofing leaves were falling [others report it was Feb.19, 1994] he went over there to cut bamboo and the Burmese shot at him. Four of them went. Two died, and two came back. The Burmese shot at my husband at 9 a.m., and his two friends "Pa Kyaw" and Saw Wih came back at 10 a.m. and told me the news. They had to run away, they didn't have time to look after each other.

My husband's name was Kalay Tay. He was 40. The other man killed was Pa Wah Muh. [Pa Wah Muh was 35.] People found their bodies 2 days later. They'd been shot dead. My husband was shot in the neck, and people said there were also 2 bullet wounds around his bladder. We can't do anything. My children and I don't even dare go to the farm now. I asked my women friends to go and help me. At harvest time we were just there for half a day, then the Burmese came and we had to run back. I can't think how we'll survive this year - I suppose just doing day labour. Sometimes I go myself, and sometimes my daughter goes.

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#22

NAME: "Pa Kyaw"                     SEX: M                AGE: 23         Karen Christian farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Hoh Taw village, Myawaddy Township - now in Tala Oh Kla village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, no children (wife pregnant)

I came here because the Burmese came and stayed in my village. I arrived in 1984, first in Noh Pa Doh refugee camp, then here. In February I went together with Kalay Tay and Pa Wah Mu to cut bamboo. We didn't see any soldiers or hear anything. We were cutting bamboo, and then they shot at us. We didn't even see them. We ran, and when we had run half the way back, the soldiers shot at us with the big gun, just one shot [probably an M79 grenade launcher or an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade)]. The dust flew up and covered me, and I kept running but my uncle was left behind. When they shot the big gun, I know my uncle fell down. His name was Kalay Tay. When I got to the river, people came across and brought me back. Later, Bweh Tha Ko went and found his body.

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#23

NAME: "Maung Tay"                     SEX: M                AGE: 40         Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Lay Kay Tee village, Nabu Township, Pa'an District - now in Tala Oh Kla, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 3 children aged 7 to 14

I left my village because of SLORC oppression. They ordered us to do sentry duty for them at night, and we couldn't bear it. During the day, we had to deliver their letters and messages even if we didn't dare go. We had to deliver their orders to the village headmen. If we didn't dare go, they harmed us. They abused me twice. The first time, they hit me with a rifle barrel on my back and my head. I got a wound on my head and had to go to hospital. The second time, they ordered me to deliver a letter at night and to go and ask about the Karen soldiers [as a spy]. When I got there I asked the village head about the Karen soldiers and he said he didn't know anything, so I went back and told the SLORC and they beat me. They punched me more than 10 times, on both sides of my face. Then I came to Thailand. That was just a year ago.

Then I went back across in February and they abused me again [others report it was Feb. 28/94]. I went to cut bamboo and wood to build a house. There were 4 of us, and we'd already finished cutting and were bringing it back. We didn't see the soldiers, they saw us first and they shot at us. All of us were wounded at the same time. I was hit in the head [a graze wound]. Pa Doh was hit twice, once in the shoulder and once in the neck but the bullet didn't go inside. Ta Bwey was also wounded. A bullet hit his buttock and stayed inside. Thaw Aye was wounded in his leg. Three of us still ran. Ta Bwey fell down, then after a few minutes he got up and tried to run again. The soldiers didn't come and find him. The three of us ran back to the riverside and then swam across the river. We could still run. Ta Bwey came back slowly, limping. He got back 2 hours later. I suffered from my wound for 1 month, but it's better now. During that month I couldn't work. When my friends got back, the people here sent them to hospital. I haven’t met any of them since then. Now I just survive doing day labour in the fields, just work to eat, work to eat, living hand to mouth. Right now, there's no work [because the flood wiped out crops].

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#24

NAME: "Saw Po Thay"                     SEX: M                AGE: 18       Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Kah Hta village, Pain Kyone Township, Pa'an District - now in Ka Maw Lay Ko refugee camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Single 2 brothers and 1 sister

I have been in this camp 5 years, because the Burmese came to our village and we didn't dare stay. Here, my uncle owned two elephants on the other side of the river. We used them to pull logs and get some money. I went with him to feed them. ["Saw Po Thay" was unsure of the time, but others in the camp say this incident happened in January 1994.] The elephants were just across on the riverbank 4. When we arrived there, we didn’t see any soldiers. They surrounded us and then appeared. There were 30 or more. They told us "Don't run, Don'trunt" Then we ran, and they shot at us. Luckily, we got through the soldiers and ran to the river. I started swimming, but my uncle didn't make it to the river. He, was shot and died. They shot at me too, but I escaped. They chased me but they couldn't catch me because, there were too many bushes. I swam across the river.

My uncle didn't die as soon as he was shot. He managed to jump in the river, floated down and died. We found his body 3 days later. There were 2 bullet wounds, one in the left side of his chest and one on the shoulder. My uncle's name was Pa Dee Mah, he is nearly 50 years old. He had 4 children. The eldest is 20 and the youngest is 3 years old. Now his family has to work in people's fields on this side of the river because they can't do anything else to live. After they shot at us, the soldiers took the elephants too.

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#25

NAME: "Htoo Klay"                    SEX: M                 AGE: 48      Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Tee Wah Ker village, Hlaing Bwe Township, Pa’an District - now in Tala Oh Kla village, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 5 children aged 7 to 20

In the area where I lived we went to work for the SLORC soldiers whenever they ordered us to, so they didn't make too much trouble for the villagers. Whenever they wanted porters they sent an order to the village head, and he sent them every time. When it was my turn, I had to go. I had to build their fences at their camp. They made us build the fences, but they wouldn't let us go inside the camp. Then when the fences wore out we had to go and rebuild them. I had to go for a day at a time, sometimes once or twice a month. I came here nearly 1 year ago because for awhile I couldn't work so I built up a debt. I came here to get money to pay my debt, but instead I just got more debt. A Thai "rich man" [Karen idiom for businessman] gave me beans to plant on the other side of the river [a common arrangement: the businessman gives the farmer seed to plant, then after harvest the farmer pays back the loan and sells the produce to the businessman at a low price]. I planted them beside the river, but because of the flood they were all killed. Then the Thai gave me just one more tin of beans to plant, so I planted them. The day before yesterday [Nov. 26/94] I went across to spray the field. Two soldiers came and arrested me. They told me to put down the spray tin, and I put it down. He took out a rope and started tying me up. I said "No need to tie me. If you want me to go with you I’ll go." They said "No, we have to tie you up." They pointed their guns at me and tied my right arm, not very tightly. Then they led me by the rope to their officer. My wife was with us too, but they didn't tie her. They'd lost their officer so they took us while they searched for him, for 20 minutes through the forest Then they found the other soldiers and they untied me.

The officer asked my wife "Can, you speak Burmese?", and one of the soldiers answered "Yes, she can." Then the officer looked at me and said "What about you?" I said "Yes, I can speak it." The officer told me to go back to the village and get 2 bottles of alcohol and one package of cheroots. I said "I’ll go, because my wife can't paddle the canoe." He asked how long it would take and I said "30 minutes" He said "Go very quickly. The sun is going down." If both of us came they wouldn't trust us, so I had to leave my wife with them. I came and got it, went back and gave it to them. He said to me, "If you come here to clear land to plant rice, you can come. But if you see us and we call you to come then come, don't run away. Don't be afraid of anything." I said I’d like to build a hut there because sometimes people die crossing the river when it floods. He said "Come and build your hut if you come just to cut trees and plant rice, you can do that. But don't take any logs or bamboo, we don't like that. And don't bring any guns." Then the officer gave me a container of spray for my sprayer because I’d had to buy wine and cheroots for them. I asked him where he got it and he said he got it from Thai people [in other words, he stole it from another Karen farmer, not a Thai. See the related testimonies of "Saw Bo Gyi" and "Naw Paw Kee"]. I respected him, because when they see other people they kill them, torture them and take them away, but they didn't do anything to me and he gave me some spray. Maybe the Lord [Buddha] is taking care of me

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#26

NAME: "Pa Lah"                         SEX: M                AGE: 38        Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Paw Nya Kyo village, Hlaing Bwe Township - now in Gray Hta camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 6 children aged 6 days to 16 years

We left our village because the Burmese Army came. They arrested people to be porters, tortured people and buried some people alive to kill them. We went to Kler Day, then 4 years ago the Burmese Army came there too so we had to come here. This July I went back to my home village to visit some relatives. The soldiers came to catch porters. Their camp is close by, and there were more than 10 of them. Everyone ran away, so they shot all around, and they hit me. The bullet grazed the flesh of my leg [he still has a scar]. I carried on running to the forest. We went through the forest and crossed a stream, and stayed there for a while until after the soldiers went away. Nobody was hit except me.

I healed it by magic power [traditional medicine]. Then I could walk with difficulty, and I came back here. My village is far from here. It took me 4 days. [For a healthy person it is a 2 day walk.] When I was at my village, the villagers told me that they have to go and dig the ground in the army camp. The SLORC also demands 6 people every day: 4 to go as porters and 2 to be their informers. The villagers have to pay 4,000 Kyat per month to them too, and 1,000 Kyat each time for food for the porters [generally, porters are forced to bring their own food and this money just goes to the military officers].

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#27

NAME: "Maung Aye"                         SEX: M                 AGE: 32        Burmese Indian, Hindu
ADDRESS: Kawkareik Town, Pa'an District Trishaw driver
FAMILY: Married for 5 years, no children

I am a trishaw driver, and I also grow carrots and sunflower in my garden to live. I can earn 70, 80 or 100 Kyat per day [US$0.60-0.80 at market rate], but it's not enough because sometimes my trishaw breaks down and I have to repair it. I was arrested in Kawkareik on November 1 [1994] because I couldn't pay money to the quarter head. [Burmese towns are divided into "quarters" or sections, each with its local SLORC administration. Everyone has to pay extortion money to these officials as "porter fees".] The quarter leader caught me and sent me to Battalion #97. On November 1st between 9 and 10 a.m., they sent me by truck to #9 Light Infantry Battalion of #44 Division in Thingan Nyi Nau. There were 23 porters on my truck, and there was another truck with more porters on it. They were from Thaton. They were sent to other camps. I spent one night in Thingan Nyi Nau, and then early in the morning I had to start carrying rice to Kway San village, then to Meh Pleh, then to the army camp at Tee Cha Ra. Then we went to another camp near Tee Cha Ra the first night. We had to carry 2 sacks of rice between 3 men, and there was an old man with me. I already had fever when they sent me there. I can't eat fishpaste, so I could only eat rice with water. I felt too weak to carry, so when we started climbing a mountain early in the morning of the second day, I could hardly carry anymore. Then on the third day, they started beating and hitting me. They hit my head with a big and long stick. It was very painful and I was bleeding. They also kicked me with their big boots. They did that all the way along, the whole day. I fell down on the ground many times, and each time the soldiers ordered me to stand up and carry again. I couldn't carry the rice anymore, so then they ordered me to carry a soldier's bag, but I couldn't carry that either so they kicked and beat me again. I could hardly walk, so the other porters helped me to arrive at the camp. At that time, I couldn't carry anything anymore.

They had medicine but they wouldn't give anything to the porters. Another porter gave me a packet of traditional medicine for my fever. On the third day at noon we arrived at the outpost. There were 12 soldiers there from Company 1 of #9 Battalion. The next morning I was feeling very sick, and they told me, "You have to work so you will get better". I had to cut bamboo and split it to make a fence. From then on I only received fishpaste to eat. I spent 4 nights at that outpost, then the soldiers went to replace the soldiers from another outpost. The 5 other porters had to follow the soldiers who were going back, but I was ordered to stay. They told me I'd go back when the soldiers from my outpost went back.

At night when the soldiers were sleeping, I opened a gap in the fence, crossed 3 fences and escaped. I ran and slept in the forest near the outpost. In the morning I heard a machine, so I followed the sound and saw a woman who sent me to the [Moei] riverside. At 1 p.m. I arrived at this refugee camp. Now I feel very weak, and sick the whole day. I would like to have a checkup at a hospital. ["Maung Aye" arrived at the refugee camp on Nov. 9/94. The head of the refugee camp hospital said "Maung Aye" was suffering from malaria and diarrhoea. He was also coughing badly throughout the interview.]

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#28

NAME: "Saw Ler Wah"                     SEX: M            AGE: 32         Karen Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Kler Day village, Pa'an District - now near Gray Hta refugee camp, Thailand
FAMILY: Married, 3 children aged 8 months, 6 and 11 years

I went from inside Burma to live in Kler Day [near the Thai border]. My children were born there, then we came over to Thailand 6 years ago because the Burmese soldiers came and frightened everyone. Now we get some food from the refugee camp, and we cross the river [border] to grow things in a small field and collect "betel" leaves. We grow some vegetables, banana and sugar cane. In April [1994] I was staying in my banana field hut and I went to see my new field which is close to the SLORC outpost. I planned to plant betelnut trees there. I had already cleared it, and someone else had burned off the brush for me. I went to see if it had burned well. I thought "Other people have gone there, so I'll be okay too." When I got there a soldier was hiding under a tree. At first I didn't see him, so he clicked his tongue at me from behind. I just kept walking away - I didn't dare run. Then he called "Hey!" and I had to go to him.

He asked me "How many people came with you?", and I said "I came alone." He asked what I was doing, and I said I'd come to look at my field and collect vegetables. I answered in Karen, and he said "I don't understand. Speak in Burmese", so then I had to try to speak in Burmese, whether I can or not. There were 6 soldiers pointing their guns at me. They ordered me to wait awhile with them, and then they took me along with them back to their camp. My friends had told me that Karen soldiers had put some mines near my field and not to walk on the path. The SLORC soldiers followed that path but I didn't want them to, and I told them so. They asked why, and I told them "Kaw Thoo Lei men came here but we don't know if they laid mines, so we have to be careful!" Then I think they suspected me. We walked through the grass and bushes.

When we were almost at their camp at Tha May Ah, we heard 2 shots behind us from a flintlock gunpowder gun, and a dog started barking. My "nephew" was out hunting with his dog. The soldiers said "Kaw Thoo Lei is shooting. That was a carbine rifle." I told them it was just a powder gun. Then they asked me, "What are they shouting?" I said, "That's just a dog that's barking." Then they blindfolded me while we went up the hill to their camp. They dragged me along for about 20 minutes while they walked a bit, then stopped to talk, walked and stopped, and so on. Then they whispered to each other and took off my blindfold just before we entered the camp. When they capture people, they usually take them into their camp blindfolded. In the camp they took me a bit uphill and put me in a hole. That is their prison. It is a hole underground on a slope. It is about 8 feet deep at one end and 10 feet at the other, 15 feet wide and 30 feet long. [This hole is more like a cave that has been excavated out of the hillside. On the downhill side it has a bamboo wall above ground level.] It has a wooden roof. On top of the hole they keep their food, like milk, sugar and other things. In the hole, they keep the people. You can't get out. I could see the light coming between the cracks, but I couldn't get out. I was alone in the hole.

After 5 minutes, an officer came and said "Are you ‘Ler Wah’?" I said yes, and he said "What do you want from me?", so I said "Nothing special." Then he blindfolded me, took me to his hut and offered me a drink. I told him "I can't drink. If I drink I get a stomach ache." He said, "Don't worry!. My alcohol already contains medicine." He passed me a bottle. I poured myself just a little but he ordered me to fill the cup. It was very good, not like Karen alcohol, the same colour [gold] as alcohol from Thailand. He forced me to drink it because they wanted to ask me questions. They only drank a little but they forced me to drink a lot. He asked my name, my age, my parents' names and all the details of my family, and he wrote it all down. Then he asked about his enemies, and I said "I don't know, because I don't work with the Karen military." He said, "Think it out!." Then he asked about Bo Pah Hta [a Karen Army/ Burmese Student Army camp by the Thai border]: he asked how many soldiers were there, how people made their living, about the school, the monastery, the hospital, etc. He asked me about the doctors and medics in the hospital [they are Burmese students]. He asked me about the soldiers' movements and their numbers, but I said "I don't know anything about that." He said, "What about the [Burmese] students?" I told him I didn't know them. He said "Who is the commander there?", and I told him it is Ta Toe, because I was sure he knew that already and if I hadn't told him he wouldn't have believed me. Then he said "Which Battalion do you stay with?" I said "I don't understand", and he said "You should know!", but I didn't pay attention to him. He was from 44 Division, I saw it on his badge, but I forget his name. He didn't beat me, but he interrogated me 2 or 3 times each day, for a long period each time. He asked me all kinds of questions, like "How many soldiers are in all of Kaw Thoo Lei?" I don't know that. He asked me "How did you know about the mines on the path? Even the village headman didn't know about that."

Each time after they interrogated me they put me back in the hole. They fed me twice a day but never enough, just one cup of bean soup. The second day, I heard a soldier telling the others, "You're feeding him too early. Don't feed him until 4 or 5 p.m." That made me very angry. They fed me in the hole, I slept in the hole and went to the toilet in the hole. There was a bad smell. I was there for 3 days in April, when it is very hot, and they wouldn't let me take a bath. It was very hard for me. When the soldiers came back from patrol they sat near the hole and I could hear them. I had to move right up to a small hole in the bamboo wall to hear and see outside. I saw 3 soldiers in civilian clothes - I knew one of them was a sergeant, the second a Lance Corporal, and the third I didn't know. One said he'd just come back from sentry duty near the river and he heard a saw cutting wood. The other nodded and said "I heard it too. I sent a soldier to check, and he found one man with a machete and called him over." They were speaking in 1ow voices so I couldn't hear everything, but I found out the man was Pa Dee Po. He said that Pa Dee Po told the soldier, "The man you have arrested is not a Karen soldier, but he is a Kaw Thoo Lei collaborator." When I heard this I was very angry. I thought, "Even though Pa Dee Po is my relative he said these things to them. If I ever escape I'll get back at him."

I was also angry at the village headman for not coming because just before I was arrested, I met him. The SLORC ordered him to go buy things for them but he didn't have enough money, so I gave him 500 Baht. Then the day after I was arrested some soldiers said "The headman is coming", but other soldiers said "He didn't come", and when I asked the officer he said "No one came for you." But later I found out the headman had come with the things the SLORC had demanded and he asked them to release me. He came with several people and they asked to see me, but the SLORC wouldn't allow us to see each other.

On the third day I heard the soldiers talking strangely, and they visited me in the hole and said strange things. They didn't bother me or want to talk to me, and they put dry leaves on the ground all around the hole so I couldn't get out without making noise. From that moment I knew I was in danger. I heard a soldier in civilian clothes ask the Sergeant, "Will you keep him?", and the Sergeant said, "No, how can we keep him? He is a Kaw Thoo Lei village headman. It is better to kill him." When I heard that, my head went cold [Karen expression for great fear]. I knew I couldn't escape. Suddenly he stood and called, "'Ler Wah', have you eaten yet?" I said "Not yet" and he told me to wait. Then the camp commander came and I saw the soldiers talk to him, and then the soldiers took me out of the hole to eat. While I was eating every soldier who passed stroked my back and said, "Uncle, feel free to eat as much as you want. If it's not enough, tell us and we'll give you more. There's lots of rice and curry." Then I knew they were going to kill me for sure. While I ate, an NCO was sitting behind me. It was already dusk. Then I saw a soldier coming from the commander with a spade in his hand and before he saw me he said, "We don't have a hole. Can we make one with this spade?" Another soldier said "Yes." Then he saw me, and he went to his hut to hide the spade. When I saw that I couldn't swallow anymore. I drank the cup of water, and the NCO said, "Have you had enough?" I said yes and went back to the hole. I thought, "I can't face being stabbed with a sword or having my throat cut, so I'll hang myself." I was wearing this sarong and this shirt. I found a gap in the ceiling boards, so I tied my sarong and hung myself with my sarong around my neck. My ears started ringing and my face swelled up, and then I stopped it. I thought, "If I die I’ll die, but I’m afraid to hang myself", and I went and laid down. I thought "I can't stay like this", so I stood up, looked through the bamboo wall and saw a fence with tin cans hanging on it so that if you shake it, it will make noise. I knew there were 6 fences on that side, all of bamboo with the tops cut very sharp. Soldiers were guarding with 2 guns, and there were also the dry leaves. I knew it was impossible to escape, so I tried to hang myself again with my sarong. My ears rang again, but I couldn't bear it anymore so I stopped, and thought, "If they come to kill me I’ll let them. I can't escape." I laid down for awhile, but I couldn't stay like that. But I couldn't escape either, and I was afraid to hang myself. I decided, "I’ll try to escape, whether I survive or not."

I started untying the bamboo ties that held the wall together and managed to open the wall until my head could fit through. I remembered someone saying, "If you can pass your head through a hole, your whole body can pass through", so I tried to squeeze through and then I jumped down on the ground. Then I started doubting whether I could escape, but I thought, "If they find me they'll kill me, but if I stay they'll kill me too." Then I started running. There was a sentry hut, another hut where they were eating and a barracks with many soldiers. I ran down to the fence and took off one tin. I looked around and worried that they'd find me, and I dropped it on a sharp bamboo [man trap] sticking out of the ground and it made a noise. I thought, "Oh! They'll hear me", and I took off several more cans and put them down. Then I thought "They'll find me by the time I get them all off", so I started to pull out the bamboo stakes of the fence [two layers of bamboo stakes woven across each other]. I pulled enough out until I could pass through. Then I ran. There were 6 fences I had to pass through this way. It was almost dark, with just a little light left. Then I ran down the slope very fast, but I slipped and hit something. I hurt myself and started bleeding. I heard gunshots behind me, so I tried to run very fast. There was blood all over me. I reached a stream, had a drink and took a rock. I decided that if somebody called to me "Don't run" I would throw the rock at him - I couldn't do anything else. I got tired and couldn't run anymore. Then I came back here.

Two days later the soldiers came to the other side of the river and asked people "Where is that man?", and they arrested 2 people. The soldiers wanted people from the village to take turns staying in their camp. Those two were released when another went to stay there. Then the villagers were afraid to go so they lied and promised to send another person. Then the soldiers released the man but the villagers didn't send any replacement.

In know I’m very lucky because I escaped. I went to Pa Dee Po to say "Even though we’re relatives, you accused me in front of SLORC", but he told me hadn’t even met with any soldiers. And the village headman told me, "I went, but they didn’t allow me to see you." Now I’m afraid to go and sleep across the river anymore. Last year, I combined the refugee rice with rice I grew in my field and I had enough for my family. This year, I only have the refugee food and some beans, so it is difficult.