Since December 1994, SLORC has been conducting a widespread offensive west of the Salween River to occupy northern Karen State's Papun District [see the related reports "SLORC's Northern Karen Offensive", KHRG #95-10, 29/3/95, and "Porters: SLORC's Salween Offensive", KHRG #95-12, 8/4/95]. In the process, SLORC forces have occupied areas which were previously strongly under the control of the Karen National Union, such as the Kyauk Nyat area not far south of the Kayah State border. Some fighting is still going on in the area. Many villages have been destroyed by advancing SLORC troops and thousands of refugees have flooded into Thailand. Those who remain are now getting their first taste of SLORC rule. The SLORC written orders translated in this report are SLORC's way of introducing itself to the local villagers. These orders were signed and sent to villages by a SLORC column commander. Some village names have been blacked out (denoted by 'xxxx') to protect them. Photocopies of the original orders are available on request. Please feel free to use this report in any way which may help the peoples of Burma, but do not pass it on to any SLORC representatives.
To all the villagers
If the Army camp calls you, come.
If the Army asks your help, help.
Other villagers have already started helping.
If the villagers help the Army, the Army will help them in return.
If the insurgents in the jungle who are armed do not make peace, this means they are the ones giving trouble to the villagers.
There is a patient Army.
There is an impatient Army.
Choose which you like.
Column Commander, 31/1 [31/1/95]
Subject: Rotating duty for servants
1) In order to carry supplies for the [army] column in Kyauk Nyat area, your village and village group have to send 20 servants on rotating basis to Kyauk Nyat army camp starting on February 7, 1995, we hereby inform you.
2) If the servants comply with their duty, the Army will help them in return. If you fail to help with what the Army needs, that will be your responsibility, gentlemen.
3) Therefore we beg of you to discuss among yourselves and to try to send the servants, rotating for 7 days each, we hereby inform you.
4) To Wi Der village group and Wah Ko Der village group are carrying out rotating servant duties for the other [army] column.
[This letter was sent to a village after a landmine exploded in the area.]
The in-charge of the village
- We are being patient for this time.
- For the next time, if you do any shooting or landmining we will burn you down (your whole village will be destroyed), we hereby inform you.
- KNU and ABSDF, make peace or we will uproot you and fight you together with DKBO/DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Organization / Association [sic: Army]), we hereby inform you.
- now your village head, come and contact the column (or) Kyauk Nyat camp (or) Pan Hai camp (or) northern Kayah State battalion urgently.
- For now, we only saw an old man so we took him. Village head, come and apologize and take him back.
- U Saw Blu Maung from Papun was killed by the Thay Way Heh group's landmine [Thay Way Heh is a local Karen Army lieutenant]. His family is asking for compensation, so go to Papun and pay it.
- We didn't lay mines around the village, because we don't want to make trouble for female/male villagers, buffalos and cattle. We haven't done anything to the village. (This is our last forgiving.)
- The village heads, collect 1 or 2 village elders and 5 villagers from this side [area], and go to Papun.
Let Bo Eh Doh make peace. [Bo Eh Doh is a Karen Army company commander in the area]
(Wishing all to stay tranquilly with darling wife and daughter),
[Notes: there was a landmine explosion in the area, and there is still Karen Army (KNLA) activity there. This order effectively warns local Karen villagers that they are to be blamed for any and all KNLA actions and face SLORC's retaliation. Despite claiming to be patient "for this time", the Lieutenant Colonel admits that they have already arrested an old man and are holding him until villagers "apologize" for the landmine. U Saw Blu Maung was not a SLORC soldier, but a Karen from Papun, almost certainly a villager who had been taken as a SLORC porter for their operations in the Kyauk Nyat area along the Salween River. He may have been sent in front of their troops as a human minesweeper when he was killed by the landmine. The local villagers, who had nothing to do with the incident, are to be forced to pay "compensation" for him.]
Now, we Army are attempting to get peace. In order to develop all areas, Army (troops and columns) will often go in and out.
Therefore, in order that all armed insurgents (KNU + ABSDF ...) and all young and old villagers can live in peace and to begin development, notify them that we invite them to cooperate with the Army or show them this letter.
For the future - if the villagers around the area contact, support or protect the armed insurgents, the Army will solve that by strength of force.
The Army never even put a freckle on the skin of the villages, farms in the forest or other property. Villagers, don't run away in the future. If you run, we are not going to take responsibility for what is lost or damaged. [The expression "never put a freckle on the skin" means "never did a bit of harm". "What is lost or damaged" is written to imply both lives and property.]
Continuously comply with the following, by order of the Strategic Commander from Papun -
- 2 village heads and 5 villagers from villages in To Si Der and To Wi Der village groups, as soon as you have received this letter start to get ready to collect people from villages [for labour], and go to see the Strategic Command Commander not later than 3/2/95. (In order that you should not fail for any reason, the Strategic Command Commander himself now informs you that if you don't go, responsibility for that will fall on whoever doesn't go.)
Matters of peace and development in the villages
In order to begin, report what you need. Warn and notify the following villages: 1) To Wi Der, 2) Wah Ko Der, 3) Pay Ploh Kee, 4) Toe Kaw Kee, 5) Naw Sa Da - and other villages. 1) Chaw Pweh Der, 2) Kyot Ko Der, 3) Meh Saw Kee, 4) Kee Po Der, 5) Lay Ain Zu --- and the village leaders from other villages, must go without fail.
[Note: While this implies that SLORC will provide some of the "needs" of the villagers for development, experience throughout Burma shows that this is very unlikely. It is more likely that the Army will report its needs (in terms of forced labour) to the village leaders.]