UPDATE ON KARENNI FORCED RELOCATIONS

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UPDATE ON KARENNI FORCED RELOCATIONS

Published date:
Wednesday, March 5, 1997

This report provides an update on the relocation of Karenni villages under orders by SLORC, from April to July 1996. Abuses include forced labour, death of villagers, and lack of access to food, water and medicine.

[Note: Some details have been omitted or replaced by ‘xxxx’ for Internet distribution.]

Between April and July 1996, SLORC ordered at least 182 villages in Karenni (Kayah) State, with an estimated total population of 25-30,000 people, to move to various relocation sites. The primary intention of SLORC was to cut off all possibility of civilian support for the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP); SLORC broke a ceasefire agreement to attack the KNPP in June 1995. The villages affected cover at least half the entire geographic area of Karenni. Some villages were marched at gunpoint to relocation sites without warning, but most were issued written orders to move within just 7 days or be 'considered as enemies', i.e. shot on sight without question. [For details see "Forced Relocation in Karenni".] Thousands of villagers went to the relocation sites as ordered; others, particularly those far from SLORC bases, fled into hiding in the forests surrounding their villages. Over 3,000 escaped to Karenni refugee camps in Thailand after a difficult and dangerous walk of days or weeks in rainy season. Some fled to parts of Karenni and southwestern Shan states controlled by the KNPLF (Karenni Nationalities People's Liberation Front) and SNPLO (Shan Nationalities People's Liberation Organisation), both of which currently have ceasefires with SLORC. Since the relocations, SLORC has still not allowed people to resettle in their home villages or provided them any assistance, and the situation throughout Karenni continues to grow increasingly critical. Witnesses state that even the mass forced relocations to get forced labourers for the Loikaw-Aungban railway in 1992 were nothing compared to this, and that never before in history has the situation been so terrible in Karenni as it is now. Even people from villages and towns which have not been ordered to move are facing severe restrictions - in Shadaw, the villagers have been forced to build a fence around the entire town. Every town is now surrounded by checkpoints, many modes of transport have been cut and people are not allowed to go anywhere without SLORC permission.

The relocated villagers could only manage to save as much as they could carry on their backs, and most of their food, livestock and belongings had to be left behind. In some cases even the sick, the elderly and the disabled had to be left behind to fend for themselves in the abandoned villages because they could not manage the walk through the mountains and their relatives could not carry them. Crippled villagers and sick children were later found by returning villagers or KNPP columns, hiding alone in villages already burned and destroyed by SLORC. In Daw Ei Hla village a 60-year-old blind woman was left alone in her house with a little food. Her decomposed remains were later found where she had fallen in her house and died slowly of starvation.

SLORC provided nothing whatsoever at the relocation sites, and villagers were able to bring very little food with them, so in June at Shadaw and Ywathit SLORC allowed many villagers one last chance to return to their villages for 7 to 10 days and bring back some food. Many villagers used this as a chance to escape into the forest. Then about one month after the June deadline for relocation, SLORC troops launched an operation to tour the villages burning and destroying all that remained of them. A similar operation was mounted again in January 1997. Some villages were totally burnt down - for example, of the 98 villages between the Pon and Salween rivers which were ordered to move, sixty to seventy have reportedly been completely burned. In other villages they destroyed the best houses and the rice barns and killed all the villagers' livestock and cattle. Some villages were not destroyed but landmines were laid. In Baw Ghu Der township, some villagers, both women and men, were later killed by stepping on these mines.

Thousands of villagers are still living in hiding in groups of 2 or 3 families in the forest. Most had already planted their rice crop when the SLORC operation began (rice-growing season is between June and

November), but then they had to spend most of their time hiding from the troops so their crops were largely destroyed by weeds and pests. They are now running completely out of rice with no prospect of planting a crop this year (normally they would now be clearing their fields in preparation for planting). In most villages all their livestock has been destroyed by SLORC, so they are reduced to surviving on jungle vegetables and roots.

Many, especially children, are dying of malaria, diarrhoea, dysentery, respiratory illnesses, and are also contracting worms and skin diseases.

Thousands of villagers are now living at SLORC-designated relocation sites including Shadaw, Ywathit, Daw Tama, Baw La Keh, Daw Tama Gyi, Tee Po Kloh, Kay Lia, Mar Kraw She, Maw Chi, Pah Saung, and Nwa La Bo. Bu Ko and Kwa Chi, initially reported by KHRG in July 1996 as a relocation site, was burned by SLORC and the villagers there ordered to move to Maw Chi relocation site. When the people arrived in the relocation sites, nothing was prepared for them. They had to clear an area designated by the SLORC in order to build a house. In Shadaw site, after the villagers had cleared the site the troops decided that the area would be good for growing beans for the Army, and ordered the people to clear another place to settle. After a few months, most of the villagers had not been able to build a house since bamboo and roofing leaves were hard to get, especially during the rainy season, and were at a long distance or had to be bought. A lot of the villagers were unable to build houses, and even 6 months later they were still staying in precarious shelters.

On arrival at most of the relocation camps the villagers had to hand over whatever rice they had to SLORC, and then had rice rationed out to them at varying rates; for example, at Maw Chi they received 8 milktins per person per week (only 1/2 the amount required to feed an average adult). Even this distribution only lasted the first 1-2 months, after which there was no rice left. At Nwa La Bo camp, the Township LORC officials ordered each relocated family to grow 3 acres of beans, then harvest them and gather them in the camp to be distributed among the villagers - but as soon as all the beans were gathered, the Army loaded them on trucks and took them away. At some of the camps the Catholic Church has tried to help the villagers with rice, medicines, blankets etc., but in almost every case the SLORC has tried to confiscate or block the aid. They demand that all rice and supplies be handed over to them for distribution, then try to take most of it for the Army. They have also tried to stop churches being set up in the relocation camps and to separate priests from their congregations, ordering them to move to Loikaw instead of the camps. [A large proportion of Kayah people are Roman Catholic, and the Catholic Church is quite prevalent throughout Karenni.]

After there was no more rice, villagers could buy a pass from the soldiers costing between 2 and 5 Kyats allowing them to be away from morning until sunset, or in some cases for 2 days, just enough time to return to their village and bring some food. People found outside the relocation site without a pass or with expired passes are beaten. Even people with passes have been arrested, beaten and send back to the relocation sites.

In most of the relocation sites many people are dying of disease; in Shadaw an estimated 300 have died, and in Maw Chi 100. The water supply is totally inadequate and usually dirty. Every day as many as 3 or 4 die, mostly children, mainly because of malaria, dysentery and respiratory diseases. The sites have no clinics. Even if there is a clinic nearby, no medicines are available unless people can go and buy them. In some sites Catholic priests have been doing their best to treat sick people. The relocation sites have no schools.

In most sites the SLORC troops order the people to work for them. They have to cut bamboo and wooden posts to build barracks and fences. In Shadaw, Daw Tama Gyi and Tee Po Kloh sites, people are forced to do road construction work. They have also been forced to build fences around some of the relocation camps, to dig trenches and to do labour as sentries. The sites are concentration camps and people need to get a pass at the sentry post in order to go in and out. Landmines have been laid around the camps. Military defences are especially prevalent at Shadaw, Maw Chi and Ywathit sites, where SLORC is more afraid of the KNPP. SLORC have built military posts inside the relocation sites and have arrested people staying there, usually charging them with suspicion of having had contact with opposition groups. In Tee Po Kloh site in August, 12 villagers were arrested by the army on suspicion of contact with the KNPP, severely beaten and tortured. Five of the twelve died under torture. The survivors were detained indefinitely without charge or trial at Army camps. As of January, at one camp of #530 Battalion alone, 64 Karenni villagers were still being held - including the 7 survivors from Tee Po Kloh (see interview in this report). Their fate is not known, nor are the numbers of villagers being held at other camps.

Many villagers who obtain passes and reach their villages go into hiding, building small shelters in the forest instead of returning. They collect food in their village or in the forest to survive. Most are almost out of rice and will face critical circumstances very soon. Hundreds of people fled Shadaw, a large relocation site holding several thousand people, to KNPLF territory near the Shan border and have been sheltered in various villages. Some have fled across the border of Shan State and have been staying in SNPLO area but they are now reportedly returning to their home areas. Some people fled the Shadaw relocation site to Loikaw (capital of Karenni), but SLORC didn't allow them to stay in the town and put them in Nwa La Bo concentration camp, along the car road north of Loikaw. About 700 people are presently in that site, and are reportedly receiving some rationed rice but there is no medicine and the clinic is closed.

During June and July 1996 about 3,000 people arrived in Karenni refugee camps in Thailand, mainly in 'Camp 2', and after the rainy season 1,300 more arrived in Camp 2, mainly from the relocation sites after a short stay hiding near their village. Families are still trickling in, though the trip is extremely difficult and dangerous. Some have died along the way. Since February villagers from southern Karenni State have also been fleeing southward into Karen State and arriving in the Karen refugee camps of Thailand's Mae Sariang district, having fled SLORC operations to destroy villages in southern Karenni State.

At 2 a.m. on 3 January 1997, a force of between 20 and 50 men crossed into Thailand and attacked Camp 2, firing assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, M79 grenades, 60 mm. mortars and 2-inch mortars. Three refugees were killed, 2 men and one woman, and at least 9 refugees were wounded. The dead and wounded ranged in age from 14 to 60. A statement and uniform left behind after the attack indicated that it had been carried out by the Karenni National Democratic Army (KNDA), armed wing of the Karenni National Democratic Party (KNDP). This 'splinter' organisation was formed on 5 November 1996 and allied itself with SLORC to fight against the KNPP. While it claims to be independent, many people believe it was initiated by SLORC to divide the KNPP and as a front for use in attacking Thailand, just as the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA) has been used to attack Karen refugee camps further south. Some refugees and KNPP officials believe that the attackers were actually SLORC soldiers using the name of KNDA and KNDP, which are based near Deemawso, far from the area of Camp 2. The refugees continue to be extremely afraid for their security, as Camp 2 is only 20 minutes' walk from a SLORC camp across the border and the Thai Army and authorities are clearly not willing to defend either the refugees or Thai territory.

The interviews in this report were conducted by KHRG in January 1997, except for interviews #3 and #9, which were recorded in December 1996 by a human rights monitor who must remain anonymous and provided to KHRG. The names of those interviewed have been changed, and all false names are enclosed in quotes. Some details have been omitted or replaced by 'xxxx' to protect those interviewed. Village names are sometimes followed by a number in brackets - these correspond to the numbered dots on the map at the end of the report.

Abbreviations

SLORC = State Law & Order Restoration Council, Burma's military junta
LORC = Law & Order Restoration Council, local and regional SLORC administration (military-controlled), e.g. Township LORC, Village LORC
KNPP = Karenni National Progressive Party, Karenni resistance fighting SLORC
KNPLF = Karenni Nationalities People's Liberation Front, Karenni resistance group which signed a ceasefire with SLORC in 1994
SNPLO = Shan Nationalities People's Liberation Organisation, Shan resistance group which has a ceasefire deal with SLORC

Table of Contents


Introduction .................................................................................
Interviews ...................................................................................
   #1: Shadaw relocation camp, hiding in forest, arrest by SLORC, death of his 2 
        daughters who stayed behind in the village 
   #2: Shadaw relocation camp, Shadaw town .........................................
   #3: Nwa La Bo relocation camp ........................................................
   #4: Man relocated to Tee Po Kloh, then arrested, tortured and detained at.....
        Army camps for 3 months until escape; death of 5 villagers under torture 
   #5: Shadaw relocation camp, death of his pregnant wife during flight ..........
   #6: Daw Tama Gyi relocation site, effects on Daw Tama Gyi villagers ...........
   #7: Tee Po Kloh relocation camp ......................................................
   #8: Mar Kraw She relocation camp ....................................................
   #9: Villager who fled to a ceasefire area to avoid relocation to Shadaw ........
   #10: Witness describing conditions in Maw Chi area and Maw Chi relocation....
          camp 
   #11: Refugee in Karenni Camp 2 whose wife was killed in the attack on the
          camp 
The Attack on Camp 2 .....................................................................
Map ...........................................................................................
List of Relocated Villages .................................................................
1
6
6
.
7
10
12
.
15

15
16
17
18
19
.
20
.
20
22
23

 

Topic Summary

Relocation Sites: Shadaw (Interviews #1,2,5), Nwa La Bo (#3), Tee Po Kloh (#4,7), Mar Kraw She (#8), Daw Tama Gyi (#6), Maw Chi (#10).

Relocation Camp conditions: Food (#1-8,10), sickness (#1,2,4-8,10), deaths (#1,2,4,6,7,10), arrests/detention/torture (#1,2,4,6,7), torture to death of villagers (#4), Army camp prison conditions (#4), confiscation of bean crop villagers were forced to grow to feed themselves (#3), aid from the Catholic Church (#2,3,8), SLORC blocking aid (#2,3), destruction of churches and harassment of Catholic priests (#3).

Conditions in villages and forests: Destruction of villages and food supplies (#1,2,4-6,10), old people left behind in villages (#3), life in hiding in the forest (#1,3,10), beating/arrest of people caught in villages (#1,3), deaths in villages and forest (#1,3,5,10), people fleeing to ceasefire areas (#4,9).

Forced Labour: Building/maintaining Army camps and relocation camps (#2-6,8,10), on roads (#6-8), farming for the Army (#2,3), other (#10).

Other: Effects on villages/towns not forced to move (#2,4,6,7,9), attack on refugees at Camp 2 in Thailand (#11).

Interviews

 

INTERVIEW #1.

NAME: "Maw Reh"         SEX: M         AGE: about 50-55 Kayah Buddhist/Animist farmer
FAMILY: Married, 10 children aged 12 to about 30; 3 of them already died
ADDRESS: Daw Tama village (#68), Shadaw Township          INTERVIEWED: 20/1/97

["Maw Reh" arrived in a Karenni refugee camp in November 1996 after staying in Shadaw relocation site, hiding in the forest near his village, and being arrested by SLORC.]

I left my village sometime in October. I don't remember which day but it took me 13 days to arrive here. The SLORC didn't order me to leave [when he fled from hiding in the forest in October] but if they found people in the village they would torture them. So I was afraid of that and I ran away.

After they gave the order letter [the relocation order, on 31/5/96], we had to run. They gave us only 7 days to leave. We were just planting our paddy and we had to leave it all behind. If we didn't leave by the deadline, the SLORC would kill us. So we all ran to Shadaw [relocation camp] at once. It was 3 hours' walk. A lot of people moved there. Some fell down on the way. Some of our things were left behind. We all had to stay in one place there. When we arrived there, some people fell sick and died. We were too afraid of the SLORC not to stay there. They didn't give us any rice to eat [after 2 months], so some people tried to go back to their villages. And when we went back, we had to hide in the forest because we were so afraid of the SLORC. Then we came back to that place [Shadaw relocation camp] because we couldn't hide for very long. We couldn't do anything. We didn't know what was the best thing to do.

Q: How long did you stay in the relocation camp and how did you survive?

A: I stayed there for 2 1/2 months. At first they gave us some rice. But after 2 months, the SLORC didn't give us any more food. So we escaped from there and went back to our own village. We were afraid to stay in our village because nobody stays there now. The SLORC had come and burned down the houses and the rice barns. All of the houses. Most of the rice was destroyed but a little remained. We had made holes in the ground to hide it. We also hid some of the rice in caves. We were afraid of the SLORC soldiers and we hid. If the soldiers saw us, they would kill us. So we had to hide in the forest. Not too far from our village, in the valley. We couldn't hide on the mountain. It was a little distant from our village but we took some rice along from our village. We used to go back to our village to get some more rice. But if the SLORC had seen us, they would have tortured us.

We stayed there for one month and then we came here. The whole family together. Lots of people were hiding in the forests. The whole village. There were 30 houses in our village. Only some stayed in Shadaw. We decided to come here because we were too afraid of the SLORC. They came often and checked around everywhere. We saw some soldiers in our village, but whenever we saw them we ran back to hide in the valley. Sometimes they went on past and sometimes they turned and went back. We always felt afraid to go back to the village. When they saw us, they tortured us. The SLORC soldiers nearly cut my throat.

Q: How did that happen?

A: While I was staying in Shadaw, I went back to my village to get some food. I got a pass from them and went. But then they arrested me and brought me back to Shadaw.They arrested me in my village, at the lake when I went to fetch water.

They pointed their guns at me. They were going to kill me. I begged the soldiers, "Please don't kill me. I still have many children alive and they need me." I said this in Kayah language and they didn't understand. Fortunately one person from Daw Tama saw me, helped me and explained for me. I showed the pass to the soldiers but they didn't care about it. They didn't hit me but they tied me up for the whole day and all night. They tied my hands behind my back and I couldn't sleep. At that time, I couldn't run away. They didn't only tie my hands, they also tied my feet. They made me sleep with them in the forest for two nights. They kept me among the soldiers at the army post. I was tied all the time. I couldn't sleep at night. I sat beside the fire. They gave me some food but I couldn't eat. I felt in agony. I thought that I would probably die. Then they took me back with them to Shadaw and they showed me to the people there [as an example].

Two of my daughters died. When we moved to Shadaw, my two daughters didn't feel well and so they didn't follow. They died behind. When I went back to the village, I saw that they had died. Nobody had a chance to dig a grave or make a coffin for them. They were sick because they were always hiding in the forest, they couldn't get any medicine to treat themselves and they died from fever. Their names were Vu Meh and Pleh Meh. Vu Meh was 25, she was already married and had a child. Pleh Meh was 20. She was so beautiful and well-built. Her skin was white. I feel so much sorrow about her. I wish she was back with me. They died about two days apart from each other.

We were 13 nights on the way here. I came with the whole family. My 2 sons, my wife and I. There were four of us. I was too afraid of the soldiers to leave my children behind [he means his 2 youngest children; his older children are married and live separately, so he no longer counts them as 'children']. I crossed the Salween River by boat. I don't remember exactly when I arrived here but we have received rice three times in the camp since then [rice is distributed once per month in the refugee camp, so he has been there for over 2 months].

Q: Why did the SLORC order your village to move?

A: I only know that I had to run, because they ordered us to move and they only gave us a few days. If we didn't move during that time limit they would kill us. Before, they used to come to our village sometimes but they didn't beat anyone.

 

INTERVIEW #2.

NAME: "Soe Reh"         SEX: M         AGE: over 40 Kayah Buddhist farmer
FAMILY: Married, 6 children aged 2 months to 15 years
ADDRESS: Daw So Kyar village (#61), Shadaw Township     INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97

I arrived here during October. At first I went to Shadaw [relocation site]. But I had not enough to eat and I was afraid of the SLORC.

In my village there were about 70 houses. In June [on 31/5/96] the SLORC sent us a written letter to move. When I saw the order I went to Shadaw. The SLORC said that all the villagers must go within 7 days. They said: "Stubborn people are not as hard as bullets!" Then we were afraid and we left. We couldn't carry everything, so we carried first all the useful things like pots, rice, blankets, etc... Some of our things were left behind. The SLORC only gave one week for us to carry our belongings. If we took more than one week they would make problems for us. When we arrived in Shadaw, we had not enough food and we felt sick. Even the clothes and the blankets were not enough. All my paddy was left behind and it was destroyed by the SLORC. Most of our animals were killed by the SLORC. Only very few remained. When I got back to my village, I could only see the bones of our animals. They killed our animals and destroyed our rice barns. I felt so depressed and decided to come here.

Q: Why did SLORC move your village?

A: I don't know what to think about that. When SLORC ordered us to go, we just went.

Shadaw was no good place to live. It was so dirty. We couldn't eat or even sleep. We could only live on the ground. There were so many sick people. Many died. Every day 2 or 3 people died. They died of fever, dysentery and cold. I arrived in Shadaw in June and I came here in October. You can guess how many months! I couldn't build any house. There was no bamboo, no trees, not even leaves to make a roof. Every material was very far away to get. The SLORC only gave us 200 shingles of leaves to make a roof [enough to cover a roof about 7 feet square, and even these were probably demanded from local villagers]. But some people could do it, some people have some money and they could buy the materials to build their house. But not me. So I went to stay with my relatives in Shadaw [village]. I didn't stay in the new place[the relocation site] because there were too many sicknesses, and the SLORC forced the people who live there to work for them. During the first month I was also included in doing work for them. I had to build a fence for the army camp. I couldn't do this for long, so I went to my relatives and stayed there.

We had to cut bamboo, make a fence around ourselves [surrounding the relocation camp], clear a place to grow beans [for the Army], clear the roadsides of the car road and repair the car road. They forced each family to cut 100 bamboos for them. Each bamboo had to be 15 feet long. It was for the old army camp but the SLORC ordered us to rebuild it. There were two fences, one around the camp and one around us.

At first, the people built shelters around Shadaw town. People were staying under the houses, in the kitchens, under the trees in Shadaw town. But then the SLORC didn't allow that and forced the people to stay together in one place. The new place is very close to the army camp. I myself stayed there. Inside the fences, it was full of people. I don't know how many. Maybe 1,000 or 2,000. SLORC didn't allow them to stay around the town. Many people were so depressed and some escaped from there. Sometimes they allowed us to go out, but very seldom.

The relocation place is a flat area. It used to be untouched bush. Nothing was ever planted there before. First we had to clear an area where we could stay. Then SLORC decided that we had to clear another place to live, and they used the first place to grow beans. The bean field was a little far from the new place. I had to clear the new place too. But then after one month, the SLORC forced us to move to a new place near their camp and clear it again. As soon as we arrived we also had to cut bamboo and to build a fence. My relatives saw me. They had pity on me and called me to stay with them. They were already living in Shadaw town. When I left Shadaw[to flee to the refugee camp in October], they had already planted beans in the big place. Some people managed to build a house, but some couldn't and they are trying to flee.

There was not enough food, so we went back to our own village to bring back some food. Sometimes they allowed us to bring food if we had nothing to eat. Only one person per family was allowed to go. If one time was not enough, we could go a second time. I had to buy a pass for 2 Kyats to go back to the village. If our village was far, they would allow us 2 days, but if the village was close they would allow only one day. If we overstay the permitted time and the SLORC finds us along the way, they will do to us whatever they want. My village was very far. If we start walking at 6 a.m., we get there at 12 noon - at least 6 hours' walk. They allowed us 2 days. But when we arrived in our village, SLORC had destroyed everything and it was so depressing. Everything in the village was completely ruined. Before we left, we had hidden some rice in the caves, so we tried to get some rice from the caves. A little rice remained there, so we could eat. Some rice was also left in some rice barns because the SLORC hadn't found them.

My village was not burnt down, but if we try to stay there the SLORC will burn it down. They do this when they see people staying there. More than 10 villages have already been burnt down. Some villages were destroyed - they destroyed the walls and the rooves of the houses.

At first, they gave 6 milk tins [of uncooked rice] for 6 days [this is less than half what an adult needs], but after one month they didn't give anything. When the priest saw the people at that place, he talked to the soldiers: "You called the people together here. Why don't you give them enough food to eat? If you don't give enough food to them, I will try to give some myself." Then the SLORC told him: "You can give, but you have to give it to us first." But the priest didn't believe them, he said: "If I give the food to you first, it will not go to the people." So the priest couldn't give it any more. Then the people became really depressed and tried to escape from that place. But some had a little money and could stay there.

Before, there were already some wells beside the stream but they were very dirty. So we dug new ones to fetch water. There were many wells, more than 10. SLORC said that they put some chemicals in the water to prevent disease, but the people drank it and died. Some people had malaria fever, others had dysentery. But almost all the people who died, died of dysentery [possibly cholera, or dysentery combined with something else; the symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea]. Adults died, children died - but mostly children aged 7 to 9. I know about one child - his mother died and his father sent him to the priest. He was only two weeks old. There was a little clinic but when we got sick, we couldn't get enough medicine to treat us. We didn't need to pay for it but the medicines were not very effective, so some people went outside to get good medicines and treated their diseases. Some went to the priest and tried to get medicine from him. In other places, you have to pay 35 or 45 Kyats for one injection. No one died in my family. They were not sick too often. Only once, one of my children felt seriously ill. I got medicine from the priest and he got better.

I saw people being beaten but I didn't see anyone being killed. Sometimes they arrested people on the road, then they brought them back to the new place and beat them. They were beaten because they were found outside without a pass or with an expired pass. These people were caught and beaten. I saw three people like that. All three were men. They beat them with a bamboo stick and kicked them all over. Their faces were swollen and not nice to look at.

I escaped at a place on the other side of the gate. I broke the fence and escaped. Some other people also broke the fence and escaped.

Q: But you were staying at your relatives' house in Shadaw town, weren't you?

A: The whole town of Shadaw is surrounded by a fence. The SLORC soldiers have checkpoints, day and night. We escaped through the fence. It is a new fence. After we arrived, the SLORC soldiers forced us to surround the town with a fence. My wife and my children escaped together with me at about 11 p.m. Five other families also used the same hole in the fence. But there are other holes in the fence too, so many that I cannot count them. Many families escaped that way. Two weeks after we escaped from Shadaw, we arrived near here. At Tee Cha Ker mountain, we met SLORC soldiers. They shot at us and we ran away and hid in a valley. Later we started trying to come here again. The whole journey took about 15 days. Here it is better than under SLORC control. There are problems, but we can stay in our house. Under SLORC, we cannot!

 

INTERVIEW #3.

NAME: "Oo Reh"         SEX: M         AGE: about 40 Kayah Christian
ADDRESS: xxxx village, Shadaw Township    INTERVIEWED: 12/96

["Oo Reh" was interviewed by a human rights monitor just after fleeing Nwa La Bo relocation camp north of Loikaw. The 660 people confined in the camp are mainly from Lawpita and Shadaw areas.]

In June 1996, the SLORC ordered us to move to Shadaw town within 15 days. When we arrived there, we had to sleep under the houses of the local people. We couldn't stay like this. Our children were getting sick. That is why we went back to our own village. After that, we received a warning letter from SLORC again which stated that the troops will come and shoot anyone who did not obey. We felt very afraid. So we immediately left our village and our belongings, and we went to Loikaw. When we arrived at Loikaw, they told us that we were not allowed to go back and they ordered us to stay there.

We had to carry along our children, and we had to leave three old people behind because they were unable to walk. We do not know whether they are alive or dead. Once, when we got permission to go back and get some rice from there, we saw that they were very sick. We proposed to the Township LORC that we should be allowed to bring them. Do you know what they replied to us? That we have to report to the Township LORC when they die, but not now. How could we know, since we were staying at Nwa La Bo? They are in xxxx village. We couldn't leave anyone to look after them. No one dares to stay there. If the SLORC troops see them, they will be beaten or shot. We told these old people to come with us, but they were waiting for their sons to bring them. At that time, the SLORC troops had already come twice and beaten these old people. They beat them because they could not speak Burmese. The soldiers might have asked them why they were staying there, but these old people could not answer them in Burmese.

At this moment many people want to help us, but the SLORC gives no permission to assist us. Monseigneur Sotero, the Archbishop of Kayah State, planned to give us plastic sheeting for rooves, cooking pots and blankets. He said that the cold season was coming up and that all the refugees [internally displaced] would need to stay warm. But we need to get permission before getting assistance, so we requested it of the Township LORC officer. He replied that all the materials should be delivered first to the Township LORC office and then they will be delivered to the refugees. But if we put all these materials at the Township LORC office we will not get anything. The officers would take it all for themselves.

The SLORC didn't provide anything there. We had to bring everything ourselves. When we arrived at the bank of the Pon River, we contacted the bishop and he sent two trucks to carry us. But then the SLORC asked us why did we contact the bishop. Oh! If we did not contact the bishop, it would have been very hard to bring our children and our rice. Each family had to take along at least 3 or 4 children. We had to leave all the livestock behind. And the three old people.

The Township officer ordered us to grow beans. Each family had to grow 3 acres. When the beans were ready, the officer ordered us to harvest the beans and share them out amongst the refugees. So all the refugees went to harvest them happily, but then after we harvested them and put them all in the camp, the Township LORC officers came and took all the beans away by truck. And we got nothing.

We have to do labour for them. If any hard work needs to be done, they order us to do it. If we do not work, we have to pay money.

The SLORC provides each adult with 2 small baskets of rice [about 3.5 kg.] per week and each child with 1 1/2 baskets per week. That is enough rice, but we can only eat rice, no curry. We grew beans for curry but SLORC took it all. Clothing was also provided by some organisations via the SLORC. The Township authorities brought 20 bags of clothes to the camp. They gave 5 pieces of clothing to each family, but we got the worst quality clothes because they had already taken the best. Then they took back the remaining clothes.

Health care! At first, they only gave us a few tablets. But now, no medicine is available and the clinic is closed. The main disease is malaria. Some children are attending Nwa La Bo school. There are 95 students.

In Nwa La Bo camp, there are about 660 people. We do not expect more to come because no one is staying any longer in our area. Now the SLORC troops have already burned down our villages. A lot of refugees already fled to the Thai border. Some are staying in the SLORC concentration camps. Some moved to KNPLF area, others moved to SNPLO area in Shan State and some are hiding in the jungle. For those who are hiding in the jungle, it is very sorrowful. A lot of them have already died because there is no medicine when they have malaria. They dare not stay here and cannot go to the Thai border. About 40 people have died. Now, there are very few refugees left in Shadaw camp. Most of them fled to the Thai border.

Now they do not allow us to build a temporary church in the camp. Most people are Roman Catholic. We told them that if we are not allowed to build a church, we will go back [to their villages]. We want to live as God preaches. They do not even allow us to sing carols at night [the interview took place shortly before Christmas]. Our priest comes in the morning and goes back in the evening because the authorities do not allow him to live in the camp. Finally we built a temporary church with plastic sheeting for a roof, but the Township authorities ordered us to pull it down. So we did. The next day, our leader went to see the bishop and told him about that. The bishop complained to the authorities of Kayah State LORC. After his complaint, we got permission to build.

Previously, the priest and 10 people came to live with us and organise health care for the refugees. But the Township authorities didn't like them to live with us. They prohibited them to stay. They said that they were not included in the list, so they could not live with us. Why not included? The priest was forced to relocate together with us [he was from one of the relocated villages]. So we requested the authorities to find a place for the priest and to build a church but they would not allow it. The priest had to go and stay at the bishop's church [in Loikaw].

We tried to find work outside of the camp, but the authorities do not allow us to work. They don't like us to get any income. They just want us to do their work. The intelligence officer told us that we would have to stay in the camp for at least 3 years.

 

INTERVIEW #4.

NAME: "Kay Reh"         SEX: M         AGE: 27 Kayah Christian (Baptist) farmer
FAMILY: Single
ADDRESS: xxxx village, Deemawso Township    INTERVIEWED: 28/1/97

["Kay Reh"'s village was forced to move to Tee Po Kloh relocation camp in June 1996. He was arrested there in August with 11 others, tortured and detained for 3 months at 3 different army camps before escaping to a refugee camp. Five of the 12 men arrested died under torture.]

I arrived here around the end of November, because I am afraid of the Burmese. I was in jail before I came. One and a half months in #54 Battalion prison and then another one and a half months in #530 Battalion jail. Altogether 3 months. They suspected me of being a company commander for KNPP.

They arrested me when I was building my house in Tee Po Kloh [relocation camp]. On 28th August 1996, about 70 or 80 soldiers from #429 Battalion from Baw Ker and 8 MI's [Military Intelligence officers] from #27 Battalion came to the front of my house and shouted: "Is there anyone in this house?" The MI's were wearing uniforms like the Burmese soldiers wear. At that time I was eating in the kitchen. They called me out, pointed their guns at me and blindfolded me with a towel. Then they tied my hands and my legs to my neck with ropes like a pig, abused me and took me to their camp on foot [the camp of #429 Battalion near Tee Po Kloh].

When I arrived there, they interrogated me. They asked so many questions, like: "Where have you hidden the guns?" "Whom do you know?" "Who are your relatives?" "How many relatives do you have?" So on and so on, like that. When I replied that I didn't know, they handcuffed me, punched me, slapped me and tortured me. They arrested twelve of us and said that we were especially important for investigation. The others were from other villages such as Tee Po Kloh, Daw Ta Dar, and Daw Ku. We were treated as dangerous prisoners and we were accused of being UG [underground agents] of KNPP. So they tied us to 12 poles, interrogated us and tortured us.

Five of us died from their beatings in Tee Po Kloh. They beat us with green bamboo. They hit all over our whole bodies, including our heads. They poured water in our nostrils and our mouths. They tied plastic over our heads [so that we could not breathe]. They also sawed my legs with a hand-saw until they were bleeding. I still have some scars from that. They didn't feed us any food nor water. Some soldiers gave water to a few prisoners that they pitied. I fell unconscious, I don't know for how long. When I was lying face down, a soldier pulled me up by the hair and blood came out from my mouth and nose, and then I tried to sit by leaning my back against something. The soldier asked me, "What are you doing?" and I answered: "I only see God!". Five prisoners from our group died because of their torture. Only 7 remained. From my village, two of us were arrested at the same time but the other one died of their torture. He was hit with a big wooden stick when they captured him. He died at the army camp in Tee Po Kloh - altogether 5 people died there. They caught us in Tee Po Kloh, took us to their camp and killed us.

They tortured me for one day, from 3 p.m. until 3 a.m. the next morning. Then they stopped torturing me because 5 of us had already died. Instead they put us out in the hot sun without any shelter around, and finally they put us all in sacks like pigs. They tied shut the top of each sack and loaded us into a truck to take us away.

They took me to the #54 Battalion lockup in Loikaw. They had arrested more people, because altogether we were 64 prisoners in four cells. They still tortured me in the jail. They called out of the cells those they wanted to beat. They hit us on the back and on the chest and they rolled bamboo on our shins. There were 64 prisoners and four cells in the jail, inside the army camp. We didn't do any labour because we were not allowed to go outside the jail. In our cells, I didn't see anyone with chains. They put 7 people in a small cell. I couldn't lie down and it was difficult to breathe. The food was only one small plate of plain rice without curry, and the water was very little too. They only let us drink a little amount of water at 7 p.m. 3 or 4 prisoners died in the jail. They were suffering from serious diseases and some of them didn't have any muscles left on their legs. There was no medical care and no clinic, so they became so emaciated because of the Burmese that they died. All the prisoners were accused of being suspects by the Burmese. They were all Karenni. I felt sick. I caught a cold because there was no blanket. I couldn't sleep at night. We just slept in a sitting position because the cell was so narrow.  Then they transferred us by truck to another jail, #530 Battalion jail, because new prisoners were going to arrive there.  That jail is about 8 miles east of Loikaw. #530 jail was a little better because we had a little chance to breathe fresh air. It was bigger than the other one. There were 27 prisoners in my cell. Then they divided us into two groups and put one group in another cell, so it was a little more comfortable for us and more spacious. The food was the same. I was beaten there too. We were tortured by the jail wardens when they were drunk with jungle rice liquor.  They punched me, kicked me, pulled our ears and walked on our stomachs with their boots while we were lying face up. We didn't wear prisoners' clothes. I didn't have to work. Only the prisoners who were not suspected, because they were not Karenni, had to work. They were Burmese and some of them were soldiers. They had shackles on their legs when they were going out of the jail to work. They were from SLORC and were punished because they didn't obey the rules of the Army.

When I was in that jail, I was in charge of distributing the food to others in my cell. There were 3 doors and they only opened one of the doors when they gave the rice. No one except me could touch the rice pot. Two soldiers pointed a gun at us when they were passing the rice pot to me. I took it. Then when we gave the rice pot back, I told my friend: "Survive or die, I will fight them to escape from here. Otherwise, we will surely die in this jail! I will hit the soldier with the gun and you will take on the soldier with the rice pot." The soldier who opened the door had no gun and I gave him the rice pot. Then the soldier who had a gun turned his back. I punched him and he fell down. My friend punched the other soldier and he also fell face down. While we were running, the other soldiers shot at us. There were two fences around the jail but they were opened in the daytime for the officers to go in and out. Only the door of our cell stayed closed, and it was only unlocked when the soldier came to give the rice pot for dinner. Only the two of us escaped. First, we hid in the long grass and bushes outside the jail fences while the soldiers were chasing us. I hid there until 9 p.m. Then we moved again and reached xxxx village. I slept one night in the paddy fields. I dared not leave in the daytime and departed at 7 or 8 p.m. Finally I carried on to my village. I stayed there for 8 days and came here.

Last June [1996] they ordered the villagers from xxxx [his village] to move. They said that it was ordered by the gentlemen from the Army to the Township LORC Chairman and then passed on to the Village Tract LORC Chairman. The villages were Daw Put, Daw Pet, Daw Law Ku, Daw Pru, Daw Bya, Tee Theh Kloh, Daw Ta Kleh, Daw Lyah Ku, Daw Ku Siu, Daw So Ku,... About 11 or 12 villages moved to Tee Po Kloh. The people were gathered inside a fence, a bit outside of Tee Po Kloh village. They kept the people in a separate area. There was about one furlong [220 yards] between Tee Po Kloh village and our area. The army camp of battalion #429 was about 3 furlongs[660 yards] away, in a separate place not inside the same area. They just guarded the fence from the gates [they posted sentries at the gates in the relocation camp fence]. This fence had only 3 gates, where they watched for strangers. The fence was built by the villagers when they arrived in Tee Po Kloh. We had to get permission from the soldiers if we wanted to go out. We didn't need to pay for the pass.

The SLORC ordered: "No one can say 'This is mine' or 'I am the owner'."   If someone says, "This is my bamboo!", SLORC will come and arrest them. [This is apparently a threat against local villagers who protest that those who have been relocated are stripping the area of bamboo.] "Everyone can cut and get whatever they need to build a shelter", they said. So it was not so difficult to get bamboo, but it was really difficult to get wooden posts because there were no trees. The people could only build small shelters. People could not go outside of the fences, neither could the animals. When the situation was bad, if someone went outside the fence they considered him as a stranger and shot at him. We had to build the shelters according to SLORC restrictions. They told us how many bamboo would be enough for each family. Then you could only count them and cut them down according to the amount they said.

If one boh [big tin] of rice was enough for one person per month, they would only distribute 8 kweh [bowls; 1 boh =3D 8 kweh =3D 64 milk tins] of rice. They didn't allow us to go back to our village to get food. All our livestock was left behind, such as cattle, goats, chickens, ducks, etc. That's why we needed to buy rice from somewhere else.

In Tee Po Kloh I saw a lot of sick people. Some died. There was no clinic. There was no school in the new place but there was one in the old Tee Po Kloh village. I can't say whether the children can go to school or not because it depends on their teachers.

Before I was arrested, the people had to do many things that the army ordered them to do, but I don't know what happened when I was in jail. For example, twelve people had to go to the army camp every day to build their bunkers and trenches. They had to put big logs on top of the bunkers.

Twice I arrived back at my village. They didn't burn the village and they didn't lay landmines but they took all the materials from our houses such as the floorboards, the walls and the rooves, even the firewood. They killed all the livestock for their meals and took everything that looked nice for themselves. I had more than 10 cattle. As for the whole village, the villagers owned about 300 cattle and buffaloes. They didn't get the chance to sell them, nor to look after them even for a short time. The SLORC soldiers reported that they were going out on patrol to look for enemies. They didn't, they just went to shoot and kill all the villagers' animals for their food. I lost all, except two bullocks that I used. We could just take a few things along by cart when we first moved from our village to Tee Po Kloh. Later, they didn't allow us to go out there again. The two bullocks are still alive.

About 30 people escaped from Tee Po Kloh after they heard about my arrest. Now I can't think of what to do.

 

INTERVIEW #5.

NAME: "Klaw Reh"         SEX: M         AGE: about 30-35 Kayah Christian (RC) farmer
FAMILY: Widower, 1 daughter aged 10, another died long ago and wife died while pregnant
ADDRESS: Daw Mi Ku village (#55), Shadaw Township     INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97

["Klaw Reh"'s wife died along with their unborn child along the way, while the family was fleeing Shadaw relocation camp for the Thai border.]

I don't remember exactly when I arrived here [the camp registration book says it was 10/10/96]. SLORC sent a letter to order us to move. When we received the order, I called my family and we went to Shadaw. I stayed there for two months. In Shadaw, they forced me to cut bamboo. Each family had to cut 100 big bamboos for the army camp and also 3 wooden posts for lights along the road. The bamboo were for building fences in the camp and for [army camp] buildings.I could only build a tiny house for my family. The SLORC only gave 100 shingles of roof leaves [enough to cover a roof about 5 feet square, and even these were probably demanded from local villagers]. In the rainy season the rain was leaking through the roof. And we had to find the bamboo ourselves [to build the houses, in addition to the bamboo they were ordered to cut for the Army]. We stayed in a big place and there was a fence around it. I received 30 milk tins of rice per week for my family. For about two months. After that, no more. When we had no more food, SLORC allowed us to go and get some in our village. My daughter got sick. She was coughing.

I escaped from Shadaw through the fence with my wife and my daughter. My wife was well. When we escaped from Shadaw, she was well. She was pregnant, about 4 months pregnant. First we went back to our village. It was still in good condition. We spent one night there, but not in the village, we hid in the jungle. But when we got near Tee Cha camp, my wife became sick. She became very tired and had pain in her belly. She died during the night. I stayed the night near her. In the morning, I buried her at that place. Then I continued the journey with my daughter to come here. I saw many villagers on the way here. I also saw 4 villages on the way. Three of them had been burned down by the SLORC. Only one was not burned down but nobody was staying there. I didn't meet any SLORC on the way. Here I feel safer because it is not under the SLORC. But I don't know anything about the future.

 

INTERVIEW #6.

NAME: "Nga Reh"         SEX: M         AGE: 28 Kayah Buddhist farmer
FAMILY: Single
ADDRESS: Daw Tama Gyi village, Deemawso Township          INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97

["Nga Reh"'s village, just north of Baw La Keh on the west side of the Pon River, is being used as a relocation site.]

I arrived here about two months ago. My village was not ordered to move but SLORC soldiers arrested many people. I was very afraid of them. And we had to do a lot of loke ah pay [forced labour] for them. So I left my village.Other villages were ordered to move to Daw Tama Gyi. I don't know whether they received an order or not but I know that the SLORC soldiers forced the other villages to stay together in Daw Tama Gyi. It was at the beginning of the rainy season. I saw more than 300 people. They were from 4 villages, Daw Kaw, Daw Par, Daw Ta Kya and Daw Hei Kleh. They had to stay in a separate place near Daw Tama Gyi, only for the new people. They built shelters there. It was very difficult for them to find bamboo and to build houses. The SLORC didn't give them anything with which to build a house. There was no fence around the place but many SLORC soldiers were always checking and guarding the new people. They were not allowed to go out freely.

The food was not enough. Each family received only 3 milktins of rice per week. The people could do nothing. They just boiled the rice to make a rice soup. The water was not good. It came out of a pipe from Daw Ku Kay village. I saw a lot of sick people. Some died from disease. Most of them had fever. The SLORC soldiers forced them to work every day, to clear the car road and to make fences for the security of their camp. They are making a new car road. I saw some cars on it. People cannot run away from Daw Tama Gyi.

I was arrested when I was in my house in my village. That happened about 3 months before the new villagers arrived to Daw Tama Gyi. SLORC forced me to build a fence for their camp. I could not do it. They ordered us to go every day and sometimes I was absent. So they called me and they beat me three times on my back with a bamboo stick. Even before the new people came, we had to do labour all the time. Building the fences, working on the car road. We had to do work for the SLORC every day. We didn't get paid for it. We had no chance to work on our farms. The SLORC ordered us to work for 10 days and then we had only one day for ourselves to grow our paddy and other things. The new people also have to do the same work all the time for the SLORC. They don't have any land [to farm].

I was afraid of the SLORC, so I came here with two of my brothers: an elder brother and a younger one. We came here on foot. We climbed the mountains and we crossed the Salween river by boat. We didn't meet any soldiers on the way. We saw two villages on the way: Daw Kraw Aw and Daw Mu Kya. Both had been burnt down by the SLORC. SLORC soldiers are not good to the people. That is why I came here. What will happen, I don't know!

 

INTERVIEW #7.

NAME: "Baw Reh"         SEX: M         AGE: 19 Kayah Buddhist farmer
FAMILY: Single, 6 brothers and sisters, studied until 6th Standard
ADDRESS: Daw Law Ku village (#154), Deemawso Township      INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97

["Baw Reh" spent several months in Tee Po Kloh relocation camp.]

I arrived here on 16/1/1997. First I went to stay in XXXX, then I came over here. Daw Law Ku villagers had to move to Tee Po Kloh. I think it was in July [around mid-June]. They gave us only 3 days to move. My family moved together to Tee Po Kloh. It was one day's walk away. We had to make 3 trips. Some people had to carry their things by themselves and some used bullock carts. It was in the hills but a cart could be used on the way. In Tee Po Kloh, we received a plot of land to build a house. It was not too small. I could even grow things there if they would let me, but the SLORC didn't allow us to grow vegetables. This area used to be farmland. The Tee Po Kloh villagers didn't receive anything for it. Eleven villages moved to Tee Po Kloh, including Daw Law Ku, Daw Pet, Daw Preh Tu, Daw Lyah Ku, Daw Put, Tee Theh Kloh, etc... I don't know how many people there were. In my village, there were 26 houses. Everybody moved to Tee Po Kloh. I don't know why the SLORC ordered us to move. They didn't burn our village down but the villagers didn't go back.

The place was not fenced [later there was a fence]. The soldiers have a camp in Tee Po Kloh. I think it is Battalion #421 but I am not sure. Each person received only 4 or 5 milktins of rice for one month [this is only enough for 2 days]. If it was not enough, they allowed people to find food outside, but just for a limited time, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. We could go back to our village but we had to get a pass. It was free. The validity of the pass depends on the village. If the village was very far away they allowed 2 or 3 days, but if the village was near Tee Po Kloh they allowed less time. If we overstayed, we would be tortured by the soldiers. I saw people being beaten because the SLORC suspected them. They arrested them, beat them, and put them in jail. Sometimes they even killed them. No one from my village was killed but some Tee Po Kloh villagers were.

We got water from the well [the existing village well]. It was enough for everyone but it was not clean. Many people got sick. I don't know from which diseases. Some people died, especially children. There was no clinic. The only possibility is to go to the city hospital [at Deemawso town].

Some people escaped from there, mainly single men. I stayed in Tee Po Kloh for 7 months [actually less than that]. The situation was getting worse and worse because there was not enough food. People who owned animals sold them to get money to buy food. My family already sold our two cows and our buffalo.

We also had to repair the car road, the road from Deemawso to Tee Po Kloh to Daw Tama Gyi. I worked there for 3 days. They called one person from each family. They fixed a period of time. Each village had to finish one section of the road within 3 days. In Tee Po Kloh, there is nothing to do [to earn money]. I went to Ngwe Daung to do farm work with my relatives. They have a farm in XXXX [near Deemawso]. I went alone. I worked there for about 4 months [actually less than that]. I couldn't stay there for a long time because SLORC soldiers might come into the village and arrest people. From Ngwe Daung I came here on foot. It was 9 days' walk. I saw some soldiers on the way but they didn't do anything. I saw some villages and almost all of them were burnt down. All the villages I passed were empty.

My family is still staying in Tee Po Kloh. I would like to call them to come here, but if I call them SLORC will torture all the villagers in Tee Po Kloh. My family is registered on their list. Also, it would be very difficult for me to go back there. Now I have no plans. I don't think this refugee camp is very good but I don't know where else I could go. So I will stay here.

 

INTERVIEW #8.

NAME: "Koo Ni Reh"          SEX: M          AGE: 24 Kayah Buddhist farmer
FAMILY: Single, 3 brothers and sisters
ADDRESS: Daw Law Ku village (#161), Pruso Township      INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97

["Koo Ni Reh" spent 7 months in Mar Kraw She relocation camp.]

SLORC told us to move to Mar Kraw She village, beside the road which goes to Pah Saung town. Only my village had to move there. It has 20 houses. The other villages like Tee Theh Ku, Daw Ku Li and Law Pya Leh had to move to Kay Lia and Daw Ter Kleh had to move to Tee Bya Nge. They frightened us, they said "If you want to die, don't come. If you don't want to die, you must move to that place." We were afraid that if we went to any other places the SLORC would kill us. And if we didn't go to do their loke ah pay [forced labour], we were afraid we would die.

When we were ordered to move, we could carry all our belongings except our cattle. Later the SLORC allowed us to go and look after them during the daytime but in the evening we had to be back in the new place. The SLORC didn't burn down my village, but nothing is remaining there except for some animals. The troops often pass through the village. My family moved and they put us beside Mar Kraw She village. It was not a good place because each family only received a plot of land 12 feet by 12 feet. We could only build a small shelter, only big enough for sleeping. They didn't give any roofing leaves, so we had to get them from the Mar Kraw She villagers. We went by ourselves to cut the bamboo and trees to build shelters. We had to go back to our village to get them. They didn't order us to build a fence around the new place, but they ordered us to build a fence around their Army camp. They ordered us to cut bamboo and make a fence, to cut trees along the road and clear the car road.

There were a lot of sick people. There was no clinic there. When people were sick, they went to see the priest and he gave them some medicine. >From July until December we didn't receive any rice. After that, I don't know as I wasn't there any more. When we had no rice to eat, we wanted to go back to our village. But then the SLORC saw us [leaving] and they asked: "Who gave you permission to go back to your village?" We were afraid of them and we couldn't do anything anymore. For 7 months, the SLORC didn't give any rice to us. That's why I ran away. I escaped through the fence. I knew if they saw me they would beat me. They only allowed us to go out from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. If we came back later than that, they would torture us.

I arrived here this month, on foot. I am the only one from my village. In our village, many people would like to come here, but they have no way to come because they are afraid of the SLORC soldiers. If the soldiers see us coming here in groups, it will not be easy for us. My family wants to come here very much but they cannot, because the names of every family are already on their list. If you want to come here, you must lie to them.

 

INTERVIEW #9.

NAME: "Nyi Reh"          SEX: M          AGE: about 40 Kayah Buddhist
ADDRESS: Thirida village (#19/20), Shadaw Township      INTERVIEWED: 12/96

["Nyi Reh" is one of the internally displaced villagers now in an area where villages have not been forced to move because the area is covered by a ceasefire agreement with a resistance group. Over 200 displaced families, totalling over 1,100 people, are scattered among at least 5 villages in this particular area. Most of them are from Shadaw area and have fled to avoid relocation to Shadaw relocation camp.]

The villagers who moved to the SLORC relocation places don't get any help. In Nwa La Bo camp they got some rice, but here we do not get any assistance. No food, no building material. I think there must be about 1,000 people in this area. Some people have finished building their houses but others are still staying with the local villagers. We brought some rice with us, but some people couldn't. We couldn't bring our livestock because there is no pasture land here, so we left them in our own village. We have to try to find food for ourselves. We have a lack of rice and salt, and we cannot find bamboo to build our houses. Before we had work, but now we don't. In this area, it is very difficult to find new land for slash-and-burn cultivation as most of the land is already owned by the local people. We are now facing many difficulties for food as well as for health and education for our children. Some children are now going to xxxx school but some cannot. We have to provide the books for them ourselves.

We would like to stay in our own village. If the situation improves we will go back. Here we have no farm and no money. I wonder when we will be able to go back.

 

INTERVIEW #10.

NAME: "Saw Ler Wah"          SEX: M          AGE: about 30 Karen
INTERVIEWED: 27/1/97

[This information was given by a human rights monitor who had just returned from the Maw Chi/Buko township area of southern Karenni.]

Buko is not a relocation site. The villages in that area were ordered to move to Maw Chi relocation site. Shortly after the relocation, SLORC burnt down half the houses of Buko, about 30 houses, and 50 houses in Kwachi. XXXX.

Many people are staying in the forest, 2 or 3 families together. They managed to harvest a little paddy this year. The SLORC operation took place in the rainy season. At that time the villagers had already planted their paddy, but since they had to go into hiding they could not take care of their fields. Although weeds grew in the fields, they managed to harvest some paddy, but obviously the harvest was not good. Their paddy can last them for another 2-3 months, then they will face a big shortage of rice. Especially in Buko area, where paddy cultivation has always been difficult and the farmers need many paddy seeds. In that area it will be harder to survive. If SLORC come again during the field clearing season [February to April], they will face big problems for the next harvest. The villagers find vegetables in the jungle and they also manage to grow some, like cucumbers. They've eaten all their animals like chickens and pigs, and most of their cattle and buffaloes have already been sold. Also, during its operations SLORC killed and ate any cattle they found.

In the forest there are many illnesses. The worst is malaria, but also worms, respiratory disease, diarrhoea, dysentery and skin diseases. I heard about two children from the same family who died the same day because of malaria and anaemia. They were coming from Maw Chi relocation site.

SLORC deliberately burnt down the villages they thought were important for the rebels. They also burnt down the best houses in other villages, and all the rice barns they could find. Some villages were not burnt down but landmines were laid.

After the relocations, SLORC moved into Ler Mu Ko township and Bwe Ghaw Ko township and searched the area. They passed through Baw Ghu Der township and also burnt down some houses and put landmines there, but this was not a special operation. Some people have been killed, including women, because they stepped on landmines. The SLORC didn't search for the people in the jungle.

In Maw Chi relocation site, the people need permission from the SLORC to go back to their fields, to work and bring rice to the relocation site. The pass costs 5 Kyats and is valid from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. So the villagers can go back, but it is dangerous because of the landmines - not only SLORC landmines, also KNPP landmines. Some have died because they stepped on landmines.

SLORC gives 8 milktins of rice per person for one week [less than half what is needed to survive]. The rice brought back by the villagers from their villages must be given to the rice bank, and the SLORC redistributes it to the people at the same rate - 8 tins per person per week [i.e. no one can get more than that no matter what]. It is very difficult to get salt and medicine. They cannot go to Maw Chi to get salt. At present they must go to Toungoo, which is far. In the relocation site people die from disease because there is no health care. There is only one clinic in Maw Chi. There is not enough medicine and people need to pay for it. There is no school.

There are 3 SLORC bases in Maw Chi and one inside the relocation site. There are about 1,000 people in Maw Chi relocation site. The people were ordered to build a fence around the relocation area. In Pah Saung too, there is a fence around the relocation site and the people were ordered to build it. SLORC orders the people to work: to guard the area, to build their bunkers and fences, and some people have to go as porters. According to the villagers, SLORC is rebuilding the Toungoo/Maw Chi road and clearing the area for logging, but I didn't see or hear about any road building going on right now.

They also threaten people. Recently KNPP destroyed a water pipe for the mine generator [Maw Chi is an important mining area] and the SLORC forced the people from the Maw Chi relocation site to rebuild it. About 40 to 50 people have fled the relocation site and went to stay in other villages away from the SLORC.

 

INTERVIEW #11.

NAME: "Sai Long"         SEX: M          AGE: 24 Shan Buddhist
FAMILY: Married, 1 daughter aged 2 1/2 years
ADDRESS: Meh Steh vlg, Soe T'Cheh township      INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97

I have been staying here for about 10 months. I came to the refugee camp because the SLORC forced me to move out of my village and because of SLORC oppression. In the past I used to live in Meh Steh village. The SLORC burnt down the houses in my village and then I went to another place called Pan Yone [previous site of Karenni Camp 2 refugee camp].

On 3/1/1997, when the Burmese came here, I was staying in my house. The fighting started at 2 a.m. At first, I heard a big explosion and I saw sparks coming out. I didn't see the soldiers. I don't know how many they were and what kind of guns they had. They didn't warn us. They came quietly into the camp. I suddenly heard shooting. I just took my child and ran to escape. I started running along the narrow path between the houses. My wife was behind. I only know that the bullets flew very close to my house. Near my house, three shells [by other reports, apparently M79 grenades] exploded. We shouted and my wife cried out in tears when she saw her father running. The firing stopped when she cried like that. But she was hit and fell down. She fell near the door of our house. The shell exploded in front of our house. She was wounded on her legs, stomach and arms and soon after she died because of haemorrhage. Her name is Naung Kyin and she was 19 years old. I was also hit on my right elbow and my child got a small injury on her foot.

The attack lasted about 15 minutes: shooting and explosions. I didn't see the Burmese after the fighting [he was hiding]. After the attack, I had to wait for a long time for someone to carry my wife because I myself couldn't walk. I also had an injury on my leg, so I just looked for some other people to carry her after the fighting stopped. I waited for two hours and then some people carried my wife to the hospital, and soon after she died there.

I cannot think or guess why the Burmese attacked this camp. Now my wound is better but I can only bend my elbow a little bit. As for my daughter, she can walk again now. I have no other place to stay, so I can't think or decide whether I should stay or not stay now. I am really afraid to stay in Camp 2 anymore. I want to stay with my parents-in-law who moved to Camp 3 on the Thai side [away from the disputed border, further into Thailand].

 
The Attack on Camp 2

Most of the refugees who flee the forced relocations and make it to Thailand end up in Camp 2, a Karenni refugee camp just across the border in Thailand's Mae Hong Son province. At 2 a.m. on 3 January 1997, a force of between 20 and 50 men crossed into Thailand and attacked Camp 2, firing assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, M79 grenades, 60 mm. mortars and 2-inch mortars. At least 5 grenades were fired, some of them deliberately into groups of houses around the camp monastery. The random firing continued for about 15 minutes in Section 3 of the camp. Three refugees were killed, 2 men and one woman, and at least 9 refugees were wounded. The dead were Ei Pyin (a.k.a. Naung Kyin, female, age 19), Ai Pon (male, age 30), and U Baw Ga (male, age 60, died of his wounds afterward at Mae Hong Son hospital). The wounded included "Sai Long" (male, 24, see interview below), the baby daughter of "Sai Long" and Ei Pyin, Ai Ree (19), San Phone (50), Ai Lin (47), Nam Myint (14), Par Mai (47), Ai Kyar (40), Myint Oo (47), Oo Meh (31), and Ei Ket (32) [Source: Green November 32].

A statement and uniform left behind after the attack indicated that it had been carried out by the Karenni National Democratic Army (KNDA), armed wing of the Karenni National Democratic Party (KNDP). This 'splinter' organisation was formed on 5 November 1996 and allied itself with SLORC to fight against the KNPP. While it claims to be independent, many people believe it was initiated by SLORC to divide the KNPP and as a front for use in attacking Thailand, just as the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA) has been used to attack Karen refugee camps further south. Some refugees and KNPP officials believe that the attackers were actually SLORC soldiers using the name of KNDA and KNDP, which are both based near Deemawso, far from the area of Camp 2. KNPP sources have accused SLORC Light Infantry Battalion #84 or #302 of conducting the attack. "Sai Long", interviewed below, is a refugee in Camp 2. His wife Naung Kyin (a.k.a. Ei Pyin) was killed in the attack on the camp.

 

List of Villages Affected

The following villages are known to have been forcibly relocated in 1996. This list has been provided courtesy of the Karenni Information Ministry. It is not complete. Numbers in the lists correspond to the numbered dots on the map showing village locations. Some village names are common and repeat themselves, such as Daw Kraw Aw, Daw Tama and Daw Mu Say.


Between Pon River and Salween River

The following 98 villages were all sent a written order on 1 June 1996 ordering them to move to Shadaw or Ywathit relocation site by 7 June. Most of them were forced to move to Shadaw. The area measures about 120 km. from north to south by 15 km. from east to west.

 

No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name

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

Daw Kadweet
Daw Taku
Daw Eida
Daw Naw Klu
Tee Taraku
Tee Leh
Naw Plu
Daw Tanaw
Leh Dukaw
Daw Mu Say
Leh Du
Thaw Thwee Leh
Daw Mu Leh
Nam Aw Lay
Klaw Leh
Tee Ka Bo Leh
Su Leh
Daw Wai Raw
Thirida (East)
Thirida (West)
Daw The Phu
Daw Noh Ku
Daw Klaw Leh
Daw Klo Ku
Daw Mumar

26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50

Daw The
Daw So Klai
Daw Soe
Daw Kraw Aw
Pana Leh
Tee Tho Ku
Tin Loi
Daw Leh Ku
Daw Law Bu
Nam Loi Yin
Daw Ei Taw
Shadaw (North)
(name not given)
Tee Ku Leh
Shadaw (West)
Shadaw (South)
Pa Lai Lai
Daw So Sah
Daw Pu Ei
Bu Law Ku
Si Ko Leh
Daw Ta Ma
Daw Ta Maw
Daw Klaw Leh Du
Daw Thaw Bu

51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75

Daw Ei Lah
Daw The
Nga Ma Loh Soe
Daw Klaw Leh Phu
Daw Mi Ku
Daw Ei Sa
Daw Klo Ku
Daw Ta Tho
Daw Klai The
Daw Klo Ku
Daw So Kyar
Tee Kay Leh
Daw Klaw Duh
Dee Leh
Daw Soh Doh
Daw Klo Ku
Daw Thaw Ku
Daw Tama
Daw Tamwi
Daw Bo Loh
Daw Mu Say
Daw Kraw Aw
Daw Leh Da
Su Leh
Daw Sar Si

76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98

Daw Lar Leh
Daw He So
Nam Phe Ku
Manai Ku
Daw Leh Ku
Tee Tho Ku
Daw Kulee
Wan Loi
Pa Ku Dah
Wan Pi Lu
Nam Lin
Leh Way
Mine Lam
Wan Pha Gyi
Wan Pla
Wan Chai
Nan Noh
Ji Kwe
Sa Laung
Wan Aw 1
Wan Aw 2
Saw Lon
Tee Ke Leh

 

Pah Saung and Maw Chi area

The following 52 villages, possibly more, are known to have been ordered to relocation sites with a deadline of 20 June 1996. Villages in Pah Saung township have been forced to move to a site near Pah Saung, villages north, south and even 30 km. northwest of Maw Chi to relocation sites near Maw Chi. Bu Ko and Kwa Chi, initially reported by KHRG in July 1996 as a relocation site, was burned by SLORC and the villagers there ordered to move to Maw Chi relocation site. The entire area covers an 80-km long swath going northwest from the Karen State border in the south up to the southern tip of Shan State.

 

No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name

99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111

Peh Ko Kee
Ko Baw Doh
Ku Tru
Lay Law Tee
Tu Doh Lay Ko
Baw Tar
Bu Law Po
Har Thedo
Kaw Tu Doh
Sho Daw Ko
Plo Ti
Ma Tu Peh
Yeh Mu Peh

112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124

Pan Put
Nam Kut
Pa Haw Ko
Yaw Di Ka
Po Bu Ku
Sho Ka Seh (1)
Sho Ka Seh (2)
Geh Lo (lower)
Ka Bweh Doh
Plah Kee
Bwa Doh
La Bweh Po
Ho Sak

125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137

Ka Baw Nga
Bu Ko
Kwa Chi
Sho Lo
Lel Po
Ka Tho Kee
Pweh Li Ko
Thi Bo
Hu Mu Kla
Ra Raw Bo
Lar Wa
Thaw Thi Lu
Par Put

138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150

Tu Ka Thu
Thaw Thi Po
La Par Ti
Doh Po
Pain Chit
Kaw Kee
Doh Mo Kaw
Sonlel
Yu Lay Ko
Ko Leh
Bweh Do Tha
Keh Kaw
Par Weh

 

Dee Maw So, Pruso and Baw La Keh area

The following 26 villages east of the Baw La Keh-Pruso-Dee Maw So road were forced to move to relocation sites at Tee Po Kloh , Kay Lia, Daw Tama Gyi, Baw La Keh and Mar Kraw She by 25 June 1996. The region is 40 km. north-south and 15 km. east-west. In July 1996, KHRG mistakenly listed Daw Tama Gyi (#173) as a relocated village; in fact, it is a relocation site.

 

No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name

151
152
153
154
155
156
157

Daw Ku Li
Daw Lyah Ku
La Li Leh
Daw Law Ku
Bu Lyar
Ta Po
Daw Tanaw

158
159
160
161
162
163
164

Daw Put
Daw Bya Ku
Daw Ta Kleh
Daw Law Ku
Kay Bi Soe
Daw Pet
Daw Preh Tu

165
166
167
168
169
170
171

Daw So Ku
Tee The Ku
Daw Takya
Daw Kyli
Daw Mo Sheh
Bu Ku
Daw Kaw

172
173
174
175
176

Daw Par
Daw Tama Gyi (*)
Daw Klet
Daw So Pya
Daw Nyeh Ku

 

Daw Tama area

The following 7 villages in Daw Tama area, east of the Salween River near the Thai border, were forced to move to a relocation site near Daw Tama by the deadline of 25 June 1996.


No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name

177
178

Thaw Thwi Leh
Tee Kaw Leh

179
180

Daw Plaw Du
Daw Tama

181
182

Myeh Leh
Daw Peh

183

Daw Ta Tho

 

Loikaw area

Elders of the following 29 villages northeast of Loikaw have been forced to sign papers guaranteeing that they will be forced to relocate if any shots are fired in the region. The area is between the Loikaw-Taunggyi road and the Pon River, from Loikaw northward to the Shan border - a 25 km. square area.


No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name No. Village Name

184
185
186
187
188
189
190
191

Pa Da Nyeh
Pa Kyeh Thit
Pa Temah
Daw Mu Kla
Lar Boi (lower)
Lar Boi (upper)
Sam Pya
Daw Kraw Ku

192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199

Daw The
Lay Aim Su
Nam Ma Hu
Daw The
Daw Par Pa
Mai Mya
Tha Wa
Wah

200
201
202
203
204
205
206
207

Paya Pyu
Ye Kan
Kon Nah (lower)
Kone Paw
Wan Kar
Kon Mako
Koy Ton
Nam Koy

208
209
210
211
212

Mae Huso
Tee Lon
Nam Sonkuay
Wa Ngaw (west)
Wa Ngaw (east)