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Published date:
Wednesday, July 31, 1996

This report contains direct translations of written orders sent from the State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC) Army units to Karen villages in the area south of Kawkareik, in south-central Karen State. Most of them are demands for villages to send forced labourers, while some also demand food and building materials. Some are simply a summons for village elders to attend 'meetings'. The most common demands includ: army camp labour, rubber plantation labour, demands for food, and summons to 'meetings' (#3,9,11-13,18,19, 22-24). Threats of killing and shelling are also made.


Following are the direct translations of some written orders sent from SLORC Army units to Karen villages in the area south of Kawkareik, in south-central Karen State. Most of them are demands for villages to send forced labourers, while some also demand food and building materials. Some are simply a summons for village elders to attend 'meetings' - these meetings at army camps are to dictate forced labour and extortion payment demands, and even though the Camp may be 3 to 5 miles away a 60-year old elder is expected to drop everything and walk there. As a result, many village elders fail to attend them, which only leads to further threats of 'action' against the elders and the village; several examples of this can be seen in this report. To show the effect of such orders, at the end of the report is an account given by a woman who went for the forced labour demanded in Order #4, which turned out to be 6 days in the hot sun planting rubber trees until she had to be carried away semi-unconscious from fever.

Most of the orders were issued between January and May 1996. Some at the end of the report were received by the same villages at the end of 1994, but are included here to show the similarity over time - nothing is improving in this area. In fact, a new flow of refugees from some of these villages toward the Thai border has begun in July 1996. Over 100 families have already reached the border, telling of SLORC and DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army) troops who are moving slowly further into the area, looting and building roads with forced labour as they go.

For every order reproduced here, hundreds more are issued every week; these should be seen only as a small representative sampling. Most of these orders were sent to village leaders, sometimes referred to as 'Chairman', who are held responsible for complying with all orders and are the first to be arrested or tortured if they fail. The phrase "Should you fail it will be your responsibility" can mean arrest/torture of elders, burning of all or part of the village, shelling the village, forced relocation, etc.

Most of these orders were handwritten, some typed, then signed and stamped by SLORC officers. Some were duplicated with carbon paper and sent to several villages. Photocopies of the Burmese originals (with village names blacked out) are available on approved request. We have attempted to accurately reproduce the visual page layout of each order, and underlining, etc. are as they appear in the order. 'Stamp:' gives the translation of the unit stamp affixed to most of the orders. Italic text in square brackets has been added by KHRG for clarification where necessary. In some instances, this occurs where Burmese grammar omits subject pronouns which are necessary in English.

As in the originals, numeric dates are shown in dd/mm/yy format. LIB = Light Infantry Battalion; IB = Infantry Battalion. Where necessary for safety, details have been blanked out with 'xxxx', 'yyyy', etc. Even so, please do not pass this report to any SLORC representatives.


Topic Summary

Army camp labour (Order #2,3,5,6,10), road labour (#1,17), rubber plantation labour (#4, p.11-12), paddy quotas (#15), demands for food (#4,9,19,23), for building materials (#6,7), for carts (#8), for firewood (#14), summons to 'meetings' (#3,9,11-13,18,19, 22-24), threat to shell the village (#19), threat to relocate village (#20), threats to villages which fail to provide intelligence reports (#20,21), death penalty for possession of Karen Youth Organisation literature (#16), account of villager who did forced labour as ordered (p.11-12).




Order #1.

#231 Infantry Battalion                 To:     Chairman
  General Staff Dept.                              xxxx village

Subject:     To call volunteer labourers

I inform you to come without fail for voluntary work to repair the Ta Mine Gone - Chaung Taung road in order to make travel easy for students and travellers. We will start on 1-5-96 at 6 a.m. One person of each house in each village must come and bring mattock [large hoe] and basket along with them.

Remark: Should you fail, it will be the Chairman's responsibility, I inform you.

Place:  IB 231                                                                                                 [Sd.]
Date:   28-4-96                                                                                               (for) Battalion Commander

[Note: this is a typed form letter, multiple copies produced using carbon paper, with the village name, 'place', and 'date' written in. It was clearly sent to several villages.]


Order #2.

To:   Village Head (xxxx [village])                                                                                                          15-3-96

Subject:   To call volunteer labourers for the camp

1) Tomorrow send 15 people from you gentlemen's village.
2) They must arrive by 8 a.m. and each one must bring a machete and a shovel.
3) As I have sent an order to each village, I inform you to come without fail.

           Stamp:                                                                      [Sd.]
#310 Light Infantry Battalion                                                   Company Commander
     #2 Company xxxx                                                              Army Camp

Remark:    xxxx [village] 15 people + yyyy [village] 15 people
                Total 30 people.

[Note: in "I inform you to come without fail", the term used translates directly as "inform", but is used in a way which makes its Burmese meaning closer to "warn".]


Order #3.

           Stamp:                                                                                                                     Date: 26-4-96
#231 Infantry Battalion                         To:    Headman
Hlaing Wah - Kawkareik                               xxxx village

Subject: To call volunteer labourers

Regarding the above subject, in order to repair Ta Mine Gone camp, I inform you to bring 30 labourers led by you yourself, together with 3 days' provisions. Each one must bring along a machete and must come to Ta Mine Gone camp tomorrow, 27-4-96, at 6 a.m.

Remark: Village headman, you must attend the meeting at 12 noon.

                                                                                                                            (for) Battalion Commander
                                                                                                                            #231 Infantry Battalion


Order #4.

To:   Village Headwoman                                                                                                      Date: 19-3-96
        xxxx [village]

30 volunteer labourers requested by IB 231 have not arrived yet. The Battalion Commander asked you to come and arrive by 16-3-96, so today is 3 days overdue.

The Battalion Commander scolded the camp. So come and arrive tomorrow. Village headwoman, come to the camp tomorrow. Other villages will also come tomorrow. I was told that a truck from the Army will pick you up [here]. So you must come.

                                                                    Headwoman, come to the camp.

Urgent                                                                                                        [Sd.]
                                                                                                                 Camp Commander
                                                                                                                 xxxx Army Camp

                                                                                                                 (Bring one duck.)

[The Camp Commander has been "scolded" by his Battalion Commander who visited from battalion headquarters for not obtaining forced labourers which the Battalion Commander had requested. It appears that the Battalion Commander has told the Camp Commander that he will send a truck from headquarters tomorrow to take the villagers to the worksite, and they had better be there ready to go or the Camp Commander's neck is on the line. A total of 300 villagers were demanded for this labour from 10 villages. The work, which continued into April, turned out to be 6-day shifts planting rubber trees in the hot sun to establish a plantation 3 miles square for military profit. See the account of one of the labourers on pages 11-12 at the end of this report.]


Order #5.

#62 Infantry Battalion                     To:   Chairman
        #2 Column                                    xxxx village

1) Special meeting to be held on 10-5-96, I inform you and I warn you to come without fail (without fail).
2) I inform you to bring one labourer to take his turn [doing labour] along with you on that day.
3) Should you fail, I inform you and warn you again that we will take action.

Place: xxxx village                                                                                      (for) Column Commander
Date: 8-5-96                                                                                               Column 2
                                                                                                                #62 Infantry Battalion

[Note: On the back in red ink is written "Important Matter". IB #62 is notorious for burning Halockhani refugee camp in 1994 and several villages in southern Karen State since then.]


Order #6.

#32 Infantry Battalion                 To:   Chairmen                                                                     Date: 14-3-96
                                                     xxxx and yyyy [villages]                                                 [sic: really 14-1-96]

There will be voluntary labour from your villages, gentlemen, on 15-1-96.

When you come and work for voluntary labour, I inform you to bring along one wooden post with each villager, with a circumference of one nyo [the span from tip of the thumb to tip of the index finger] or one twa [handspan, from tip of the thumb to tip of the little finger] and a length of 9 taung [from elbow to fingertip], which you must cut near Yone Be village.

Bring along sand-carrying baskets and dirt-carrying baskets.  
Make them up. [i.e. make some if you have none]

                                                                                                                [Sd. - 14/1/96]
                                                                                                                (for) Battalion Commander


Order #7.

To:   Headman                                                                                                                         Date: 30-4-96
        xxxx village

Subject: To send bamboo and small wooden posts.

Regarding the above subject, we inform you to bring 1,000 bamboos and 50 wooden posts from xxxx village to yyyy army camp by 5/5 [5 May] to repair the camp.

                                                                                                                Company Commander
                                                                                                                yyyy camp


Order #8.

#310 Light Infantry Battalion                             To:     Village Head
        #4 Company                                                     xxxx / yyyy [villages]

As soon as you receive this letter, bring quickly 2 bullock carts to the camp.

                                                                                                            [Sd. - 7/5]
                                                                                                            Company Commander
                                                                                                            #4 Company
                                                                                                            #310 LIB


Order #9.

To:   Mother Daw xxxx                                                                                                                      29/4/96

Come tomorrow to the camp. Bring some betelnut and betel leaf.

                                                                                                            [Sd. - 29/4]
                                                                                                            Company Commander
                                                                                                            xxxx Army Camp


Order #10.

To:   Mother

Yesterday, you didn't come for voluntary labour. So today, Mother, come for a while.

                                                                                                            [Sd. - 22/4]
                                                                                                            Company Commander

                                                                                                            xxxx Army Camp

["Mother" is the village headwoman. In this context, "you didn't come" really means "your village didn't come"; the headwoman is expected to take the villagers and supervise their work.]


Order #11.

To:   Auntie xxxx / Auntie yyyy

Both of you come quickly, not after 12 noon.

                                                                                                            16/5 [16 May]

[This is a summons from a SLORC officer to 2 village elders; on the back it is addressed to the village headwoman.]


Order #12.

To:    Mother Headwoman

Right now, as soon as you receive this letter, come and meet at the camp. Important.

                                                                                                            [Sd. - 16/4]
                                                                                                            Company Commander
                                                                                                            xxxx Camp


Order #13.

#310 Light Infantry Battalion                     To:     Headwoman
            #4 Company                                         xxxx village

Mother, Daw xxxx, as soon as you receive this letter come quickly to the camp.

                                                                                                            [Sd. - 7/5]
                                                                                                            Company Commander

                                                                                                            #4 Company
                                                                                                            #310 LIB


Order #14.

            Stamp:                                                                                                                   Date: 10-1-96
#32 Infantry Battalion                             To:    Chairman
        #2 Column                                             xxxx village

Subject:    Battalion asking for one lan [arm's length] of firewood

We know that you have not sent the firewood ordered from you. Therefore, I inform you to send the one lan of firewood I ordered to the Battalion headquarters without fail by 12-1-96.

Should you fail, it will be your responsibility.

                                                                                                            (for) Column Commander


Order #15.

Stamp: Exactly, Correctly, Quickly                                                                 Union of Myanmar Government
                                                                                                                    Ministry of Trade Department
                                                                                                                    Town Paddy-Buying Centre
                                                                                                                    Kya In Seik Gyi Town

Myanmar Agricultural Products Trading                                                               Reference: 09/96 (paddy)
             Kya In Seik Gyi Town                                                                          Date: 1996 January 15

To:   Chairman
        xxxx Quarter / Village Tract Law & Order Restoration Council
        Kya In Seik Gyi Township

Subject:    To come and sell the paddy quickly

Reference: Managing Director, Myanmar Agricultural Products Trading, dated 20-12-95,
                 Reference No. 0-1 / Purchase (5496)

1) Regarding the above subject, I earnestly inform you respecting the paddy quota which you must sell to the Kya In Seik Gyi Township buying centre for this purchasing season, please come and sell [it to us] quickly in order to fulfill your quota.

2) In accordance with the letter referenced [above], the headquarters instructed us to perform quickly so I am now sending attached to this letter a list showing the paddy quota you must sell from your village tract: the paddy amount you have to sell, the paddy you have already sold, and the remaining paddy to sell. Therefore, the remaining villagers who have to sell their paddy in order to be dutiful must come and sell [it] by 31-1-96. So please arrange for that and perform as necessary.

                                                                                                                (In Charge)
                                                                                                                Township Centre

Copies to: - Township Law & Order Restoration Council, Kya In Seik Gyi Town
                - Township Manager, Agricultural Products Trading, Kya In Seik Gyi Town
                - Office Copy

[Attached to the copy of the order sent to this particular village was the following slip of paper:]

List of Undutiful Villages in Selling Paddy from Various Village Tracts

Nat / Leh / Village Tract [blank]

No.                Village Name                Paddy Quota                 Already Sold            Remaining to Sell           Remarks

1                        xxxxx                              50                                  -                                   50

                                                                                                                Win Ko
                                                                                                                (for) In-charge, Buying Centre

[These paddy quotas must be 'sold' to SLORC at 20% or less of market price, and make it very hard for farmers to survive.]


Order #16.

#231 Infantry Battalion                     To:     Headman
        Column #1                                       xxxx village

We heard that two copies of a book titled "Karen Youth Organisation Constitution" were distributed among the villages. Send them quickly to our Column, so that they arrive today. We inform you that if they are not sent and we find out that you are hiding them, we will take action againstthe villagers, women and men, by the law (including the death penalty).

Place: yyyy village                                                                                     [Sd.]
Date:  20-11-94                                                                                          Intelligence Officer
                                                                                                               #231 Infantry Battalion

[The Karen Youth Organisation (KYO) functions under the auspices of the Karen National Union (KNU), the main Karen resistance organisation. The KYO works to get Karen youth involved in social and sometimes political activity in their areas.]


Order #17.

Subject: To inform [you] to contribute voluntary labour

To repair the Ta Mine Gone - Chaung Taung road, we inform you to report to Ta Mine Gone camp and to bring volunteer labourers from the quota for your village, you yourself leading the group, along with shovels, mattocks [large hoes], baskets to carry the dirt and tools, by 22-12-94.

Should you fail to come, headman, it will be your responsibility.

Place:  Ta Mine Gone army camp                                                                 [Sd.]
Date:   20/12/94                                                                                        Camp Commander
                                                                                                               Ta Mine Gone Camp
                                                                                                               IB 97                                                                                                                  Date:        

[Note: As shown in Order #1 (see pg. 2), the same forced labour on this same road is still going on in 1996. According to a villager from the area, forced labour rebuilding this road has been going on every year for as long as he can remember.]


Order #18.

To:    xxxx Village Headman                                                                                                                  26-11-94

Subject: Invitation for a meeting

I inform you to attend the meeting held by IB 231 Daw Pa Lan camp commander on 27-11-94, Ta Zow Mon Lah Sote 10 [Burmese date], at 9 a.m. without fail. Should you fail, it will be the village headman's responsibility. I inform you that we will take serious action.

                                                                                                                Camp Commander
                                                                                                                No. 231 Infantry Battalion


Order #19.

#231 Infantry Battalion                     To:     Village Headwoman
        Column #1                                       xxxx village

Subject: Invitation for a meeting

This is the last invitation, because we have invited you many times, you, headwoman, to discuss general matters. If you do not come it will be your fault, and then don't think the Army is bullying you [when you're punished]. I will take action if people do not come. If you do not come this time, [you] will be attacked with artillery. If you come, you must arrive on Nadaw Lah San 3 [Burmese date; 5/12/94]. If you do not come, I will send a big one. [Pronoun used represents a round object, clearly meaning a big artillery shell.] One person from each family must come to the meeting without fail.

I inform you to bring 1 basket of rice and 2 viss [3.2 kg.] of chicken from xxxx village.

                                                                                                            Warrant Officer Htun Win

                                                                                                            Frontline IB 231
                                                                                                            Daw Pa Lan camp


Order #20.

#231 Infantry Battalion                             To:     Village Head
         Column #1                                              Monastery layman-in-charge
                                                                    xxxx village                                                      Date: 21-12-94

Subject:    To inform you for the last time to come to the Column and meet

1) We discovered that your village didn't report to the Army column even though it is not far from Kawkareik Town, and that you haven't cooperated in social and religious activities in the area even though your village is quite devout.

2) Therefore, I inform and warn you for the last time that your village will be relocated from its place if we discover that you have not done anything by 29-12-94.

                                                                                                            (for) Battalion Commander
                                                                                                            Frontline #231 Infantry Battalion

["Social and religious activities" most likely means sending forced labour when demanded, handing over 'pagoda fees' and other extortion money to Army units, and forced labour and donations for SLORC officers' public relations religious ceremonies, where they give donations to monks.]


Order #21.

To:    Headwoman, xxxx [village]                                                                                         Date: 18-12-94

I send this letter. At the meeting with the 12 villages, Father Battalion Commander ordered you to report information on the situation every 3 days. As of now you, headwoman, have not reported to Daw Pa Lan Army Camp. I inform you to give correctly a report every 3 days. I don't take responsibility for any village that fails to report.

                                                                                                            2nd Warrant Officer Htun Win
                                                                                                            Camp Commander
                                                                                                            Frontline IB 231
                                                                                                            Daw Pa Lan camp

[Note: The headwoman is supposed to report information on rebel movements in her area. If the information is inaccurate or incomplete and then there is fighting in the area, villages are usually punished by having elders tortured, houses burned, or being forcibly relocated.]


Order #22.

To:    Village Head
         xxxx village                                                                                                                         Date: 2-12-94

I inform and warn for the second time. As soon as you receive this letter, village head, come and meet at the Frontline IB 231 column.



Order #23.

To:    Headman
         xxxx village

Subject:    Invitation to discuss general matters

Now I inform you to come to Daw Pa Lan camp on Nadaw Lah San 14 [Burmese date; 16/12/94] without fail for discussion with the headmen about general matters. If you cannot come, headman, please send your representative. Should you fail, I take no responsibility [for what will happen].

Nadaw Lah San 14                                                                                   [Sd.]
Do come                                                                                                Warrant Officer Htun Win
                                                                                                            Camp Commander
                                                                                                            Daw Pa Lan

Bring 1 basket of rice along with you.


Order #24.

            Stamp:                                                                                                                 23/11/94
#231 Infantry Battalion                     To:     Village Head
        Column #1                                       xxxx village

Village headman and Karen organising members, I inform you to come and meet at Frontline IB 231 Column [camp] as soon as you receive this letter. Should [you] fail, it will be the headman's responsibility.

                                                                                                            Frontline IB 231


Aftermath of a SLORC Order

[A 34-year-old woman (Karen Buddhist, farmer), whose village received a copy of Order #4, gave the following account of what ensued]

I left xxxx [village] at 9 a.m. on 3/4/96 and arrived at Ta Mine Gone village at 11 a.m. Then we were picked up at the police station by a truck owned by IB 231. We arrived at Lain Kweh village at 2 p.m. They gave us 3 tins of rice, 3 viss [4.8 kg.] of yellow beans, and 3 bottles of cooking oil for 150 villagers for 6 days. We had to take our own provisions for 3 days and each of us had to take a machete and a mattock [large hoe].

The next day at 6 a.m. we left Lain Kweh and went to Ko Da ['Nine-Mile'] on foot. It was 11/2 miles and took us one hour walking. As soon as we arrived we had to start working. We had to dig holes and plant rubber trees. We had to dig holes 2 feet square every 5 taung [8 feet]. We had our meal at 11 a.m. After that, we had to carry on. People from An Pa Gyi, An Pa Lay, Ywa Thit, Ta Yah Gone, Naung Nine, and Ywa Than Shay villages [in Kawkareik township], from Long Kai, Pa Kyat, Kaw Paung, Naw Hta Lar villages in Kyone Doh township, and other villages too but I don't remember all the names. Sometimes we got water to drink from Lain Kweh village, but there was not enough for all the people. If you were thirsty you had to go to Lain Kweh and carry it.

The plantation is located on hilly ground. After working for 2 days, on the third day we were told to move to another hill because the Commander from Strategic Command was coming at 11 a.m. to check the planting. They moved us so only the soldiers were left in the plantation [presumably for the Commander's security]. At 2 p.m. we had to go back to the plantation and we had to clear all the weeds [the Commander had probably complained about the weeds].

On the 4th day I started getting fever. Even though I got sick, I had to go to the plantation. There was no shade. We had to work under the hot sun, and we had no time to rest. At 4 p.m. I asked for some medicine from the [Army] medics. They gave me 3 Paracetamols and I took them. Because of the high fever I couldn't eat my dinner that day. That night I had high fever, then again the next day. I wasn't able to go work in the plantation, so I had to rest in the school where we were put up. On the 5th day at 12 noon, I was carried by the villagers to Lain Kweh because I couldn't walk. Then I had to take a passenger car to Hlaing Wah accompanied by my auntie. The fare was 50 Kyat. From there I took a trishaw and went to my relatives' house in xxxx quarter [in Kawkareik], and that also cost me 50 Kyat. The next day my husband came and picked me up by bullock cart. When I arrived home I got an IV injection and felt a bit better. I could start taking baths again on 28 April. Now my health is not so good. The treatment cost me 2,000 Kyat. Lots of people from other villages got sick there too.

[A human rights monitor added the following in writing:]

One person from each house has to go. They have to dig 700 holes [each], they have to dig for 5 days. Battalion Commander Aung Khine from IB 231 himself oversees the plantation. Their Battalion is located near Ko Da ['Nine-Mile'] village. Villages working at the plantation: An Pa Gyi, An Pa Lay, Ta Mine Gone, Ywa Than Shay, '33' village, Kya In Gone, Naung Nine, Tha Ya Gone, Ywa Thit, Pan Kar Gone. Each village, 30 people. They take them by truck to Lain Kweh and put them at the school. They work from 6:30 a.m. until midday, then lunch, then after the meal they have to work in the hot sun without a rest. They have to bring their own hoes, shovels, and rations, and carry their own water from Lain Kweh, 1 mile away and the water is not so good. There is no treatment for sick people. They had to go on 3/4/96 and return home on 9/4/96. People had to work like animals.

People in the area told me that the traders asked the Army to plant the trees [quite possibly foreign companies, who export rubber and agricultural commodities as a way of converting profits in Burma into hard currency. As Burma's domestic manufacturing base has been essentially wiped out by Chinese imports, all the rubber will likely be exported in a raw form.] After the trees reach a certain height they will buy the plantation [or the rubber] from the Army. The plantation covers an area about 3 miles square. Aung Khine, commander of Infantry Battalion 231, is a thug. He orders people to work all the time. If people don't go they will be arrested, or SLORC will make trouble for them when they go shopping in Kawkareik.

[Such Army plantations are becoming more and more common in Burma, and are often marked as 'Agricultural Projects' and paraded in the state media. From this area to the south many Army rubber plantations are being established, all on confiscated land with forced labour. Many are reportedly much larger than this one.]