[Some details have been replaced with ‘xxxx’ for Internet distribution. The Internet version of this report does not contain the copies of original orders in Burmese.]
Following are the direct translations of some written orders sent from SPDC and DKBA Army units and local authorities to Karen villages in Thaton and Pa’an Districts of Karen State, southeastern Burma. All of them were issued in the period September 1998 - March 1999. They include orders restricting the movement of villagers, demands for forced labour, money, food and materials, a DKBA notification about landmine operations in Pa’an District, an SPDC letter about education of children in the village, and even a letter from an SPDC officer to village elders reminiscing about his time in their village and apologising for the things he did ‘under orders’. Many of them simply summon village elders to attend ‘meetings’ at which SPDC Army officers or officials dictate demands for forced labour, money and materials and threaten the village for any failure to comply.
This report does not aim to provide a comprehensive picture of the human rights situation in these areas, but to provide a reference containing examples of several kinds of orders received by villages in several different regions. More information on the human rights situation in each District is available in other existing KHRG reports. Originals of these orders were obtained by KHRG monitors in each region, with the exception of Orders #P1-P6 which were provided by the Human Rights Section of the Federated Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB). For every order reproduced here, hundreds more are issued every week; these should be seen only as a small representative sampling. Most of these orders were handwritten, some typed, and carbon-copied if sent to more than one village. They were issued by local SPDC and DKBA Army commanders and Peace & Development Councils (PDCs), which are local-level SPDC administration at the Township, Village Tract and Village level. While the Township and often Village Tract PDCs consist of SPDC officials under direct military control, the Village PDC chairperson and members are appointed, often against their will, by the local military. They are responsible for providing forced labourers, money, materials, intelligence etc. as demanded by the military and the higher-level PDCs, and they are the first to be arrested and tortured if they fail to do so; this is what is meant by threatening phrases such as "if you fail it will be your responsibility".
Orders in this report have been divided by District, and within that by topic. For each District a short summary has been included to explain the context in which the orders were issued. The orders were written in Burmese except where noted otherwise (those from DKBA units were written in Karen). Village names, people’s names and Army camp names have been replaced with ‘xxxx’ or ‘yyyy’ where necessary to protect villages from retaliation. Even so, please do not pass this report to any SPDC representatives. We have attempted to accurately reproduce the visual page layout of each order, and underlining, etc. are as they appear in the order. ‘Stamp:’ gives the translation of the unit stamp affixed to many of the orders, while ‘[Sd.]’ denotes the usually illegible signature of the issuing official. Italic text in square brackets has been added by KHRG for clarification where necessary. Note that Burmese grammar is very different from English, and therefore some of the phraseology sounds awkward because we have tried to reproduce the wording as exactly as possible.
As in the originals, all numeric dates are shown in dd/mm/yy format. In Burmese, numerals are usually written in parentheses; in the translations these have been omitted in most cases where they would not be used in English. Many orders call for ‘loh ah pay’, which we have translated literally as ‘voluntary labour’, though it is the term used by the SPDC to call for forced labour. The term ‘wontan’ also appears frequently; we have translated this literally as ‘servant’, and it is used by the SPDC to refer to porters and other forced labourers. Reference is made to "servants’ fees", also known as "porter fees"; these are the routine extortion fees which villagers must pay to all Army battalions in their area. Many orders contain phrases like "if you fail it is your responsibility" or "we will not take any responsibility for your village"; these are threats that village elders will be arrested and detained under torture or houses will be looted and/or burned for failure to comply with the order. Some Battalions in the orders call themselves "Advance" or "Frontline"battalions, indicating that they operate in conflict areas.
The orders have been broken up into regions to make viewing them more manageable. To view the regional summary and the orders from each region, simply click on the district you would like to see:
Copies of the Burmese originals of selected orders are included at the end of the report [these have been omitted from the website version of the report]. The translations of these orders are marked with an asterisk (*) to indicate this. The poor quality of many of the copies is due to the poor quality of paper used by SPDC units and their use of carbon copies. Copies of the full set of Burmese orders in this report are available (with appropriate details blacked out) on approved request from KHRG.
SPDC = State Peace & Development Council, military junta ruling Burma
PDC = Peace & Development Council, SPDC local-level administration
(e.g. Village PDC [VPDC], Village Tract PDC, Township PDC [TPDC])
KNU = Karen National Union, main Karen opposition group
KNLA = Karen National Liberation Army, army of the KNU
DKBA = Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Karen group allied with SLORC/SPDC
IB = Infantry Battalion (SLORC/SPDC), usually about 500 soldiers fighting strength
LIB = Light Infantry Battalion (SLORC/SPDC), usually about 500 soldiers fighting strength
Viss = Unit of weight measure; one viss is 1.6 kilograms or 3.5 pounds
Pyi = Volume of rice equal to 8 small condensed milk tins; about 2 kilograms / 4.4 pounds
Kyat = Burmese currency; US$1=6 Kyat at official rate, 300+ Kyat at current market rate
Table of Contents
Table of Contents ...........................................
Copies of Selected Original Orders in Burmese .........