SPDC ORDERS TO VILLAGES: SET 99-B

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SPDC ORDERS TO VILLAGES: SET 99-B

Published date:
Saturday, September 26, 1998

Thaton District (known in Karen as Doothatu) straddles the border of Karen State and northern Mon State. As defined by the KNU, it consists of Kyaikto, Bilin, Thaton, Pa’an, and Paung townships, and covers the Gulf of Martaban coastline from Moulmein in the south to Kyaikto in the north. It includes the southern watershed of the Bilin River and all of the Donthami River watershed, bounded in the east by the Salween River and the hills between the Donthami and Yunzalin rivers. Though it has a Pa’an township, the actual town of Pa’an is on the east bank of the Salween River in Pa’an District. Being close to the coastal road and railway lines, Thaton District is under quite heavy SPDC control, and the DKBA also has a significant presence in the eastern parts of the district. Only small Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) units can operate in the area, so while there is sporadic fighting in the east the villages there have not been systematically destroyed in retaliation. However, villages throughout the eastern parts of the district continue to suffer from SPDC abuses including arbitrary arrests, torture and executions, as well as looting and constant demands for forced labour, money, food and materials. Several Karen villages near the Bilin and Donthami rivers were forced to relocate to larger villages in 1997. Some of the people from the villages in the Donthami area are now reportedly trickling back to try living back in their old villages or the surrounding forests. It is as yet unclear whether SPDC and DKBA troops will allow this to continue. The future of villagers in this area will largely depend on the amount of activity conducted by the KNLA; assuming that the KNLA continues to operate there, it is likely that the SPDC will eventually clamp down further on the villagers by conducting further forced relocations.

Thaton District

Thaton District (known in Karen as Doothatu) straddles the border of Karen State and northern Mon State. As defined by the KNU, it consists of Kyaikto, Bilin, Thaton, Pa’an, and Paung townships, and covers the Gulf of Martaban coastline from Moulmein in the south to Kyaikto in the north. It includes the southern watershed of the Bilin River and all of the Donthami River watershed, bounded in the east by the Salween River and the hills between the Donthami and Yunzalin rivers. Though it has a Pa’an township, the actual town of Pa’an is on the east bank of the Salween River in Pa’an District. Being close to the coastal road and railway lines, Thaton District is under quite heavy SPDC control, and the DKBA also has a significant presence in the eastern parts of the district. Only small Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) units can operate in the area, so while there is sporadic fighting in the east the villages there have not been systematically destroyed in retaliation. However, villages throughout the eastern parts of the district continue to suffer from SPDC abuses including arbitrary arrests, torture and executions, as well as looting and constant demands for forced labour, money, food and materials. Several Karen villages near the Bilin and Donthami rivers were forced to relocate to larger villages in 1997. Some of the people from the villages in the Donthami area are now reportedly trickling back to try living back in their old villages or the surrounding forests. It is as yet unclear whether SPDC and DKBA troops will allow this to continue. The future of villagers in this area will largely depend on the amount of activity conducted by the KNLA; assuming that the KNLA continues to operate there, it is likely that the SPDC will eventually clamp down further on the villagers by conducting further forced relocations.

The orders below reflect some of the demands regularly placed on villagers throughout the region; some relate specifically to the A’Su Chaung bridge, for which the villagers were ordered to provide 2 tons of 4" by 4" teak, 500 planks, and all the labour. The orders are divided into 5 categories: Threats/Restrictions Against Villagers, Forced Labour, Demands for Money and Materials, Summons to ‘Meetings’, and SPDC Letters. Some of the orders under ‘Demands for Money and Materials’ also contain demands for forced labour. Included under ‘SPDC Letters’ are a letter about education from a local military commander and a letter from an SPDC officer reminiscing about his time in a local village. All of the orders below were issued by SPDC Army officers and officials and were written in Burmese, with the exception of Order #T22, which was issued by the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and was written in Sgaw Karen.

 Threats/Restrictions Against Villagers

Order #T1*

              Stamp: 
     #xxx Infantry Battalion                    To:    Village Head
            Column #x                                        xxxx village

From your village, children, men and all the villagers are absolutely (absolutely) not allowed out of the village on September 27 / 28 / 29, Thadin Kyut Hla Zan [waxing] 7 / 8 / 9. Don’t go at all for looking after your cattle, buffalos, farm affairs or picking vegetables. Inform the village that they will be shot and arrested if the Columns find out [that they are going out of the village].

Place: Temporary - Mobile [camp]                                             [Sd.]
Date:  26-9-98                                                               Intelligence Officer
                                                                                #xxx Infantry Battalion

[Thadin Kyut is a month in the Burmese lunar calendar, so Thadin Kyut waxing 7/8/9 is the Burmese date to correspond with September 27/28/29. This order was probably issued because of some military operation which was to happen around the village on those days.]

 

Forced Labour

Order #T2*

Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion
      #x Company

To let the xxxx [village] chairperson, Daw xxxx, know. Tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock send 3 emergency servants from your village for repairing the camp.

Send [them] without fail to repair the camp. It will be two nights long, so they must bring rations.

Without fail. If [you] fail it will be the responsibility of the Chairpersons.

Right on time on 8-1-99 to xxxx camp.

[To:] xxxx [village].

Date:    7-1-99                                                                       [Sd.]
Place:   xxxx camp                                               (for) Company Commander
                                                                                      #x Company
                                                                                 #xxx Infantry Battalion

[‘Emergency servants’ are villagers to do a one-time shift of forced labour.]

Order #T3*

            Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion
        #x Company                          To:    xxxx village

The above mentioned village, send without fail 10 men tomorrow at 0600 hours NOW to repair xxxxcamp.

*(or) must bring a hoe.

                                                                                        [Sd.]
                                                                       (for) Company Commander
                                                                                   Company #x
                                                                            #xxx Infantry Battalion

[This order was carbon-copied and had the village name written in afterwards. ‘Tomorrow at 0600’ was crossed out and NOW was written in by hand after this order had already been carbon-copied. The note at the bottom was crossed out also; its meaning is unclear.]

Order #T4*

           Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion                          To:   Village Heads
         Column #x                                          xxxx, yyyy, and zzzz

You are informed to urgently send 3 volunteer workers with rations for 5 days at 7 o’clock a.m. when you receive this letter.

                                                                                      [Sd.]
                                                                                 Capt. xxxx

Order #T5*

           Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion                    To:      Village headwoman
         Column #x                                       xxxx [village]                         15-10-98

You are informed to send again 5 voluntary servants and 5 emergency servants from your village toxxxx riverbank today.

                                                                                          [Sd.]
                                                                           (for) Intelligence Officer
                                                                             #xxx Infantry Battalion

[‘Emergency servants’ are forced labourers for one-time ‘ad hoc’ work, usually as porters hauling shipments of Army rations or maintaining the Army camp. ‘Voluntary labourers’ are also forced labourers, but in this context he is probably referring to the regular rotations of forced labourers which the village is ordered to provide.]

Order #T6*

              Stamp: 
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion             To:      Village Head
           xxxx [village]                                 xxxx village

Subject: Calling for volunteer workers

U yyyy from xxxx village has returned without permission, so you yourself immediately send 15viss [24 kg / 52 lb] of pork. Come yourself today with one person to take his place as a volunteer worker. If you cannot get pork, [you] must pay fine money of the value of the pork.

You are informed that the village head and the village will be severely punished if they fail.

Place:  xxxx village                                                             [Sd.]
Date:   15-12-98                                                  (for) Battalion Commander
                                                                        #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

[This order was issued after a villager doing forced labour left to go home before getting permission from the military. Whenever this happens the village is punished and forced to send replacements.]

Order #T7

              Stamp:
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion              To:      Village Head
           xxxx [village]                                   xxxx village

Subject: Meeting about Ma Ha Dout affairs

Regarding the above-mentioned subject, village head xxxx, come yourself, and you are informed to come immediately today with rotation servants.

Place:  xxxx                                                             [Sd. / 16/12/98]
Date:  16-12-98                                                (for) Battalion Commander
                                                                     #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

[‘Ma Ha Dout’ is the Buddhist celebration of initiating novice monks who are chosen by lot, happening in November/December each year. The meeting will probably dictate demands for money and/or forced labourers using the festival as an excuse; in addition, replacement forced labourers (‘rotation servants’) are demanded for those already with the Army on the usual forced labour rotation.]

Order #T8

To: Chairperson                                   Stamp: 
        xxxx village                   xxx Light Infantry Battalion 
                                                     xxxx [village]

Chairperson of xxxx village, come urgently when you receive this letter because the Column Commander wants to meet, and the road worker group must go to work at the worksite.

Date:   29-10-98                                                                [Sd.]
Place:  xxxx village                                             (for) Column Commander
                                                                        #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

[The ‘road worker group’ is the quota of villagers who must do their rotating shift of forced labour maintaining the local roads.]

Order #T9*

xxxx [village head’s name]

- starting when you receive this letter, arrange one bullock cart every day for the east bank and one for the west bank [of the river].
- it is not for carrying logs; [we] want to buy and sell rice and onions.
- help with this.

                                                                                        [Sd.]

[The name at the top of this handwritten note is the name of the village headwoman. The order is not stamped and has no specification of Army unit. It is ordering the village to provide carts to haul produce to market, where it will be sold for the profit of Army officers. There is a good chance this is produce which has been taken from local farmers or produced by the forced labour of villagers. The villagers will also have to provide bullocks to pull the carts, and the cart owners will have to do forced labour driving the carts to market.]

Order #T10

                                                                        Stamp: 
To:  Chairpersons                        Village Peace & Development Council 
       xxxx / yyyy [villages]                                 xxxx village                      25/10/98

Hand over the attached letter to xxxx camp. Also bring the reply letter from xxxx camp.

                                                                                    [Sd.]

[This is an order for a village head to deliver a message letter from one Army camp to another, then bring back the reply.]

Order #T11

                Stamp: 
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion                    To:     Village Head
            xxxx [village]                                        xxxx village

You already said that the three big trees which fell on the road between xxxx village and yyyystream had been cut up, however [we] have found out that they have not been cut up yet.

You are informed to clean up all of those trees immediately.

Place:  xxxx village                                                                [Sd.]
Date:   30-10-98                                                     (for) Battalion Commander
                                                                           #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

Demands for Money and Materials

 

Order #T12*

 

                       Stamp: 
Village Peace & Development Council                                               20-11-98
                   xxxx village

 

To: xxxx village head, you are informed to send without fail 500 wooden planks, length 10 taun [cubits; 10 taun is about 5 metres / 15 feet], which must arrive on 22-11-98 for A’Su Chaung bridge.

 

                                                                                       [Sd.]
                                                                                    Chairman
                                                                Village Peace & Development Council
                                                                         xxxx village, Bilin township

 

Arrange loh ah pay workers on the day of construction.

 

[‘Loh ah pay’ is the term for traditional voluntary merit-making labour, but is used by the SPDC to refer to forced labour. Note that they only have 2 days to cut and deliver all 500 planks. Not only are the villages being ordered to provide the planks for the bridge, but they also have to build it, and they were probably also ordered to pay for it.]

 

Order #T13*

              Stamp: 
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion                  To:     Village Head
         xxxx [village]                                       xxxx village

As previously ordered, your village must arrange by yourselves to cut (2) tons of teak wood (4" x 4") on time. And also send immediately the logs which we told you about at xxxx, because the bridge is already finished.

You are informed to make it in advance [of the deadline].

Place:  xxxx                                                                           [Sd.]
Date:   4-11-98                                                             Intelligence Officer
                                                                            #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

[When he demands the wood ‘because the bridge is already finished’, he may mean just the structure of the bridge but not the planking; this would agree with Order #T12 above, which ordered planks and forced labour for the bridge on 20 November. It is unclear how long the villagers were given to produce the 2 tons of teak, though judging by Order #T12 it was probably no more than 2 weeks.]

Order #T14*

          Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion
      #x Company

To:     Headwoman                                                              Date: 24-9-98
          xxxx village

Headwoman, for your village you are informed again to come with 2 baskets of paddy for the servants as already ordered. So tomorrow, 25-9-98, come to xxxx. If you have difficulty you can sort it out when you arrive at xxxx village.

                                                                                      [Sd.]
                                                                        (for) Intelligence Officer
                                                                          #xxx Infantry Battalion

[This is a demand for the village to provide food for forced labourers, probably from the same village, who are already with the Battalion.]

Order #T15

To: xxxx Village Head                                                                       12-9-98

Send Maung xxxx to yyyy tomorrow. If you can, send [him] today. Also, xxxx [village head] come along if you are healthy. Yesterday I told [you] about 300 bamboos and servants. Send them also on a convenient day.

                                                                                   Yours,
                                                                               [Sd. / 12/9]
                                                                         Company Commander
                                                                               #x Company

[‘300 bamboos and servants’ refers to a previous demand that the village send 300 bamboo poles and a group of forced labourers.]

Order #T16

To:   Chairperson (xxxx [village])                                                     6-11-98

You are informed to bring urgently the fee money for servants to xxxx when you receive this letter.

                                                                                [Sd. / 6/11/98]
                                                                        (for) Column Commander
                                                                                     Column x

[‘Fee money for servants’ is usually extortion money demanded in lieu of doing forced labour.]

Order #T18

              Stamp: 
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion                                                          10-11-98
           #x Company

To:     Chairperson
          yyyy / zzzz
          xxxx [village]

Collect donation money from your village, it is for a xxxx villager who is receiving medical treatment at xxxx Hospital. He needs donation money of 4,000.-, four thousand Kyat. Collect this money from the loh ngan pai shin [literally, ‘work owners’, meaning owners of shops, workshops or other small businesses], and send it today. You are informed to assign duties as road sentries beginning 10-11-98.

                                                                                [Sd.]
                                                                     Company Commander
                                                                          #x Company

[The village heads must ‘assign duties as road sentries’, meaning they must choose villagers to send as forced labour guarding the road for the Army. Specified numbers of villagers are demanded for this labour on a rotating basis.]

Summons to ‘Meetings’

 

Order #T19*

 

         Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion                 To:     Chairperson
      #x Company                                    Village Peace & Development Council
                                                           xxxx village

 

Subject: Calling the village head

 

Frontline #xxx Infantry Battalion in the control area of xxxx army camp has never called xxxx village to the camp before. Now this is an important summons, so you are informed to come right away. If [you]fail, it will be the responsibility of the village head.

 

Date:  5-3-99                                                                      [Sd.]
Place: xxxx camp                                              (for) Company Commander
                                                                                   Company #x
                                                                            #xxx Infantry Battalion

Order #T20

          Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion                                                                                                     Date: 31-12-98
Column #x Headquarters

To:     Chairperson

You are informed to send Maung xxxx’s father and yyyy’s mother, Naw zzzz, to xxxx camp with the person who brings this letter today.

                                                                                           [Sd.]
                                                                                #xxx Infantry Battalion

Order #T21

To: Chairperson (xxxx [village])                                                   23-12-98

When you receive this letter, the Chairperson yourself must come to meet with the Column Commander ofxxxx camp.

If you fail it will be your responsibility.

Come and meet today, 23-12-98.                                                  [Sd.]
                                                                                             xxxx camp

Order #T22

                                                                                 Date: 17/12/99 [sic: 98] 
To: xxxx village head

Special matter for you.

As soon as you see this letter, come quickly to see me. Don’t be late. Very important matter.

                                                                                     From

                                                                                Dee Kay Bee Ay [sic: DKBA]
                                                                                   Capt. xxxx
                                                                                 (xxxx [camp])

                                                                            Urgent Military Matters

[This order was written in Karen.]

Order #T23

            Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion                                                  Date: 9-12-98
        #x Company

To:     xxxx + yyyy
          Chairpersons
          xxxx + yyyy villages

Subject: Village chairpersons, come and meet

Village chairpersons, you are invited to come tomorrow, 10-12-98 at 0700 o’clock, to xxxx camp.

                                                                                            [Sd.]
                                                                          (for) Company Commander
                                                                                     #x Company
                                                                               #xxx Infantry Battalion

Order #T24

              Stamp: 
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion         To:      Chairperson                     Date: 6-12-98
          xxxx [village]                              xxxx [village]                  Place: yyyy

Subject: Calling the village head

Regarding the above subject, xxxx or yyyy, you are informed to come and meet with the Column Commander immediately when you receive this letter.

                                                                                  [Sd. / Date 6/12/98]
                                                                             (for) Battalion Commander
                                                                            #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

Order #T25

                    Stamp: 
Village Peace & Development Council     To:    xxxx village head            19-11-98
                  yyyy village

You are informed to come to yyyy office tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock without fail by order of the Column Commander.

                                                                                        [Sd.]
                                                                                     Member (1)
                                                                   Village Peace & Development Council
                                                                          yyyy village, Bilin township

Order #T26

               Stamp: 
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion
          xxxx [village]

To:     Chairperson                                                                 Date: 9-11-98
          xxxx village

Subject: Come and meet the Column

Regarding the above subject, you are informed to discuss with the Column about calling the village head from yyyy Hospital.

Date:  9-11-98                                                                     [Sd. / 9/11]
Place: xxxx                                                                   Intelligence Officer
                                                                              #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

Order #T27

               Stamp: 
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion                To:      Village Head
            xxxx [village]                                   xxxx [village]

Subject: Calling the village head

Regarding the above subject, you are invited to come without fail to the Column today at 1130 hours on time. If you fail it will be your responsibility.

Place: xxxx                                                                      [Sd. / 3/11]
Date:  3-11-98                                                             Intelligence Officer
                                                                           #xxx Light Infantry Battalion

Order #T28

                                                       Stamp: 
To: Village Head               #xxx Frontline Infantry Battalion                14-10-98
        xxxx                                        Column #xx                                    WED[nesday]

Village head, come immediately to xxxx camp about important matters.

If you fail it will be your responsibility.

(Come tomorrow morning at 7 o’clock)

                                                                                            [Sd.]
                                                                                  Intelligence Officer
                                                                                #xxx Infantry Battalion

Order #T29

To:     Chairperson                                                           11-10-98
          xxxx village

Come to xxxx camp when you receive this letter.

                                                                                      [Sd.]
                                                                              Camp Commander
                                                                                   xxxx camp

Order #T30

            Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion              To:     Chairperson                            11/10/98
        #x Company                              xxxx village

Come urgently to xxxx camp when you receive this letter.

                                                                                  [Sd.]
                                                                         Camp Commander
                                                                              xxxx camp

Order #T31

           Stamp:
#xxx Infantry Battalion            To:      Village Head
       Company #x

xxxx village, now, when you get this letter, the Army staying at xxxx calls the village heads below to come together with you as fast as can be (as fast as can be). Come to meet.

1) Daw wwww
2) Daw xxxx
3) Daw yyyy
4) Daw zzzz

You are informed again to come and meet without fail (without fail) together with the above mentioned four village heads.

                                                                    [Sd. / 8/10/98 / Capt. xxxx]
                                                                          Company Commander
                                                                                 Company #x
                                                                         #xxx Infantry Battalion

Order #T32

              Stamp:
#xxx Light Infantry Battalion         To:      Chairperson
          xxxx [village]                              xxxx village

You are informed that the Chairperson from xxxx village must come urgently when you receive this letter.

Date:  2-10-98                                                                   [Sd.]
Place: xxxx village                                              (for) Column Commander

Order #T33

           Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion                To:      Chairperson
        #x Company                                 xxxx village (xxxx)

Subject: Inviting [you] for a meeting

Frontline #xxx Infantry Battalion at xxxx camp to the above-mentioned village chairperson, tomorrow, 2-10-98 in the morning at 9 o’clock, you are informed to attend a meeting without fail at the Army camp.

Place: xxxx camp                                                             [Sd.]
Date:  1-10-98                                                      Company Commander
                                                                                #x Company
                                                                          #xxx Infantry Battalion

Order #T34

To:     Chairperson                                                                           21-9-98
          xxxx village

You are informed to come to xxxx for discussion when you receive this letter.

                                                                                     [Sd.]
                                                                           Column Commander
                                                                                #x Column

Order #T35

             Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion              To:      Letting the Chairperson know
        #x Company

[I] write this letter. Come and arrive at xxxx camp when you receive this letter.

Come without fail.

[To:] xxxx [village] Chairperson.

                                                                                  [Sd.]
                                                                     Company Commander
                                                                            #x Company 
                                                                      #xxx Infantry Battalion

Order #T36

To: Village Head (xxxx)                                                    Stamp: 
        xxxx village                                           #xxx Frontline Infantry Battalion
                                                                                   Column #x

At xxxx camp on 15-8-98, the sabbath day, [we will] make an important meeting, come in the morning at 8 o’clock without fail, you are informed.

                                                                       [Sd.]

Order #T37

           Stamp: 
#xxx Infantry Battalion
        #x Company

To: I am writing to let the village Chairperson know. The reason is so that you come yourself when you receive this without fail.

[To:]        xxxx [village]
               Chairperson

                                                                                 [Sd.]
                                                                 (for) Company Commander
                                                                           #x Company
                                                                      #xxx Infantry Battalion

SPDC Letters

 

Order #T38

 

                  Stamp: 
Frontline #xx Infantry Battalion Frontline   #xx Infantry Battalion, Column #x Headquarters
        Column #x Headquarters                  xxxx camp
                                                             Reference: xxx / xxxx / Oo 1
                                                             Date: 1998 September 31

 

To: Chairperson
        Village Peace & Development Council
        xxxx village

 

Subject: Children’s education to learn in the village

 

1) My Column #x Headquarters of Company #x, #xxx Infantry Battalion, is taking the duty to control the area and to establish safety. It is found that the condition of the villages in the area is getting more peaceful than before, and also the villagers can do their own business openly, with open eyes and open ears.

 

2) There needs to be more working together to achieve the result of peace and development. There will be more success in your village development if all the villagers are trying to work together.

 

3) All the insurgent groups in the jungle should realise that disturbing their own territory, wasting time uselessly, collecting rice, food, money and calling for new recruits by force from their own villages are not for the peace and development of their own villages. They should understand that all these things are not to the benefit of their own villages.

 

4) All of you also know that all of the insurgents in the jungle surrounding the villages come from among your own villagers. All these groups have been struggling so hard for many years and have lived a long time in the jungle, and have suffered many troubles in the jungle like illness, lack of food, and are also wounded and die when they meet with the Column. They suffer separation from their wives and children. All of this suffering affects their own villages. Their own villages suffer because they have to support the insurgent groups and they cannot devote full time to their own work or business. They have to solve their own problems by themselves. All the parents need to examine their duty and whether they will succeed or not regarding the future of their own children.

 

5) All of the insurgent groups need to understand that while they stay in the jungle they leave their sons and daughters in the village, and they need to think about how their innocent wives and children feel and what they face because of their wrong ways and misunderstandings [of the SPDC].

 

6) The remaining insurgent groups in the area need to think about what support for their families and what education for their children they get from their leaders, and how much they[the leaders] are thinking about their [the followers’] family life. They [the ‘insurgents’ in the jungle] give their suffering to their children as well. Their leaders build their own houses, they collect money, they have no need to worry about food and have everything perfect in the other country. Their children can even study in Thailand. Their families are full of money and everything is perfect for them, they don’t worry about their lives because for many years they have been collecting money. For their [the ‘insurgents’ in the jungle] own families, they have much suffering, their wives and children suffer because of them and there is nothing for their future, this [they] need to know.

 

7) The insurgent groups in the jungle need to realise that for many years they have been doing their duty in the jungle, and their lives, their family lives, and the condition of their villages have all been destroyed, but their leaders’ lives and those of their families are perfect in foreign countries.

 

8) The villages in the territory of #xxx Infantry Battalion Column #x should plan and cooperate together for their children’s future so that they can get knowledge and education. Our Column and Company are also trying and working for the children’s education as though they were our own sons and daughters.

 

9) So the village heads should make a list in their own villages of all children above 5 years old, their name [used] in school, including also the parents’ names, without excluding even one person. Send it to xxxx camp.

 

10) You are informed to attend a meeting at xxxx camp on 5-9-98. This meeting is to discuss continuing the children’s education with the village heads.

 

                                                                                    [Sd.]
                                                                      (for) Column Commander
                                                                        #xxx Infantry Battalion

 

[The original of this order is 3 pages long. Several of the villages in this area already have schools and the officer even acknowledges this by asking for the children’s "name in school". He may be more interested in getting the lists including parents’ names in order to determine who are the ‘children of insurgents’ than he is in helping with the children’s education. However, his real intent is difficult to judge just from this order.]

Order #T39*

[This is not an order, but a personal letter written to a village head by an SPDC officer who has now been rotated out of the area.]

                  Stamp: 
#xxx Frontline Infantry Battalion
              #x Company                                        December 12, 98

To:     uuuu, vvvv, wwww, yyyy, zzzz, [villagers’ names]
          and xxxx villagers

We are writing to you with so much remembrance. Now our Battalion is on duty at yyyy [another area], but I always remember uuuu, vvvv and all the villagers. Wherever we are we cannot forget the xxxx villagers. I am so thankful for all your help, the food and everything else you gave when our Battalion was in xxxx. I hope that all of you will understand and forgive us for what we said, ordered of you and did to you. These were our duties and were done under orders. I do apologise for our previous deeds. Actually, we and all of you are brothers and sisters.

When I arrived in Rangoon I told my parents and my brothers about how we lived and were happy when I was in your village. For this current operation, Commander aaaa and 2nd-in-commandbbbb are not with us, they have already been transferred. Lieutenant cccc was also transferred. Myself and Lieutenant dddd are in this operation.

Write a letter if you remember, uuuu, vvvv, and wwww, all please reply to me when Maung mmmm[the messenger] returns. You need not reply to me if you hate us, but reply to me if your friendship is the same as before.

                                                                    With remembrance,
                                                                       Captain xxxx

                                                  [Stamped:] Company Commander
                                                                        #x Company
                                                                #xxx Infantry Battalion

[Note: this Captain is from the same Battalion, though a different Company, which wrote some of the orders in this report demanding forced labour and other things. Judging by dates on the orders, it appears that when his Company was rotated out they may have been replaced by Company #x, which wrote the orders in this report. Some Battalions and Companies are gentler with the villagers than others, though even in this letter he admits to demanding things and committing abuses ‘under orders’. What he mistook for friendship may have been the fearful submission of the villagers in order to protect themselves and their village.]