CONTINUING FEAR AND HUNGER Update on the Current Situation in Karenni

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CONTINUING FEAR AND HUNGER Update on the Current Situation in Karenni

Published date:
Tuesday, May 25, 1999

This report is a summary of the current situation for villagers facing human rights abuses under SLORC / SPDC in Karenni State. It includes 15 interviews with affected villagers and the list of villages that have been ordered to leave, documenting the increasing numbers of refugees moving across the border to Thailand in search of safety. 

Note: Some details omitted or replaced by ‘XXXX’ for Internet distribution.

Since mid-1996 the State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC) military junta, now renamed as the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), has forcibly relocated and destroyed over 200 villages covering at least half the geographic area of Karenni (Kayah) State in eastern Burma. At least 20,000-30,000 people have been displaced, forced to move into military-controlled camps where many of them have been starving and dying of disease, or to flee into hiding in the forest where they face similar suffering as well as the possibility of being shot on sight by SLORC/SPDC patrols. Some have escaped to Thailand but the vast majority are still struggling to survive in the relocation sites or in hiding in the forests near their destroyed villages. There is no sign that their situation will improve anytime soon, as the SPDC continues its campaign aiming at the complete military control of Karenni State and the obliteration of all possibilities of resistance.

Immediately following the largest of wave of forced relocations in June/July 1996, about 3,000 people made their way to existing Karenni refugee camps in Thailand. After the following few months of the rainy season another 1,300 arrived. Since then there was only been a slow trickle of refugees coming into the camps, 1-3 families at a time. In January 1998 some larger groups, consisting of 60 or 70 people, reached the camps. Groups of this size came again in March of the same year. However, since January 1999 over 1,500 refugees have arrived in the Karenni refugee camps in Thailand. The overwhelming reason for this sudden, large migration seems to be a shortage of food as a result of the unpredictable weather and inability to work farms out of fear of being shot or enslaved by the Burmese Army. This report is based on interviews conducted by KHRG in March 1999 with some of these new arrivals. KHRG would also like to thank the Karenni National Progressive Party for their co-operation and help. This report provides an update on the current situation in Karenni, which has been previously described in "Forced Relocation in Karenni" (KHRG #96-24, 15/7/96), "Update on Karenni Forced Relocations" (KHRG #97-01, 5/3/97) and "A Struggle Just to Survive" (KHRG #98-06, 12/6/98).

Throughout the interviews the villagers speak of having to do Loh Ah Pay. This is term the Army uses throughout Burma when rounding up people for forced labour. Loh Ah Pay translates as ‘voluntary labour’, however, when the Army is rounding people up there is nothing voluntary about the work they must do. If they don’t go for this ‘voluntary labour’ they are either required to pay money, beaten or jailed.

This report consists of a summary of the current situation supported by quotes from interviews, followed by the full text of the interviews. All names of those interviewed have been changed and some details omitted where necessary to protect people. False names are shown in quotes; all other names are real. At the end of the report is a list of villages that had been relocated as of 1997 and the relocation sites at that time. The numbers which appear beside village names in the report correspond to the numbered dots on the map at the end of the report.

 


Table of Contents

Preface.............................................................
Table of Contents.................................................
Abbreviations......................................................

Summary of the Current Situation...............................
    Background......................................................
    Conditions in and around the relocation sites..............
    Food shortages.................................................
    Health and medical facilities.................................
    Education.......................................................
    Forced military service and marriage in Daw Dta Hay....
    Forced labour...................................................
    Villagers hiding in the jungle.................................
    The flight to Thailand.........................................

What the future may hold.......................................

Index of Interviews...............................................

Interviews..........................................................

List of Villages Affected..........................................

Map (278 K)........................................................

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Abbreviations

SPDC = State Peace & Development Council, military junta ruling Burma
SLORC = State Law & Order Restoration Council, former name of the SPDC until Nov. 1997
KNPP = Karenni National Progressive Party, Karenni resistance force fighting SPDC
KNPLF = Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front, Karenni resistance group which made a ceasefire deal with SLORC in 1994
KNLP = Kayan New Land Party, Karenni resistance group which has a ceasefire with SPDC 
KNDP = Karenni National Democratic Party, political wing of the KNDA
KNDA = Karenni National Democratic Army, armed group formed in 1996, reportedly by SLORC, which acts as a SLORC/SPDC militia and proxy army
IB = Infantry Battalion (SLORC/SPDC), usually about 500 soldiers fighting strength
LIB = Light Infantry Battalion (SLORC/SPDC), usually about 500 soldiers fighting strength
LID = Light Infantry Division (SLORC/SPDC); one Division consists of 10 LIB battalions
loh ah pay = Forced labour; literally it means traditional voluntary labour, but not under SPDC
Kyat = Burmese currency; US$1=6 Kyat at official rate, 350+ Kyat at current market rate

 

Summary of the Current Situation

 

"We couldn’t build houses, we had to stay on the ground. We cut leaves to lay down as a floor to sleep on and made a roof with some tarpaulin. It didn’t rain but it was very cold. We could only light a very small fire to warm ourselves because we were afraid that the fire would show the soldiers where we were. The fire could only be the burning embers. I had 4 children who were not well so they cried sometimes. Any time the soldiers who were chasing us headed in our direction, I suffered in my heart a great deal because my children didn’t know to be afraid. Back when we were living in our hill village we had to run too, but the children only learned to be afraid of battle, they never learned to be afraid while we’re fleeing. As parents we worried about them a lot. We were always worried about the next time we would have to run. Sometimes I couldn’t eat because of the anxiety. When it was time to eat, I could only eat one or two mouthfuls of rice and then I didn’t feel like eating anymore. There were many troubles and a lot of suffering. When we first left to come to the refugee camp, the SPDC army tried to chase us and a battle occurred. I heard the sounds of the weapons and was too afraid to run anywhere. I hid in many different places in the area and the children were very noisy because they didn’t understand the army troops would come to kill us. We had to worry about them so it was difficult for me to eat and sleep. We could see the houses burning in the old village, xxxx. Where we were hiding was very close to where the SPDC soldiers were." - "Lu Mya" (F, 30), talking about running from SPDC patrols in the jungle around Shadaw (Interview 5).

Between April and July 1996, relocation orders were issued by the SLORC (renamed the SPDC in November 1997) to at least 182 villages in Karenni (Kayah) State. The orders demand that the villagers move to military-controlled sites within 3-7 days. The main reason for the gathering of the villagers into these relocation sites was to bring the civilian population under tight military control and to prevent the villagers from being able to provide any support to the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP). The other resistance groups in Karenni, the Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF), the Kayan New Land Party (KNLP) and the Shan Nationalities People’s Liberation Organisation (SNPLO) have already made ceasefire agreements with the SLORC. The KNPP, a notably larger and older resistance force than the others, made a ceasefire agreement with the SLORC in March 1995. However, the SLORC used the premise of the ceasefire to move its troops into offensive positions and then broke the ceasefire in June 1995 by launching an offensive against the KNPP. By the end of March 1996 the SLORC had taken all of the main KNPP bases near the Thai border. The KNPP reorganised and sent guerrilla columns throughout Karenni to disrupt SLORC forces, and the SLORC responded by commencing the mass forced relocations. Fighting has been ongoing ever since, despite the false SLORC/SPDC claim that the KNPP surrendered in 1995 and that there has been no fighting in Karenni since then. Currently the bulk of the fighting is located in the southeastern part of the state.

The villages affected by the forced relocations account for well over half of the geographic area of the State and are home to at least 20,000-30,000 people. The villagers were given no more than a week to move to sites specified by the army. The written orders issued to the villages stated that after that week the villagers in those areas would be considered as enemy troops and would be shot on sight if spotted in their villages by SLORC/SPDC patrols. Upon receiving the relocation orders many of the villagers fled into hiding in the jungle and some even made their way north to Shan State to find refuge. The rest of the villagers had no choice but to go to the specified relocation sites. Those who went to the relocation sites were unable to take anything more than their children and what they could carry on their backs during the often long walk through the jungle and hills to the sites. Some of the sick and elderly had no choice but to remain in the villages because they were not physically able to make the journey to the relocation sites or flee into the jungle. The SLORC troops, acting as they had promised, started sweeping the area with patrols shortly after the time for relocation had elapsed. They systematically moved through the villages, taking anything of value that had been left behind and then burning what was left. Villagers coming from the areas around Shadaw and Mawchi relocation sites say that all of the villages have been destroyed in those areas and nothing is left. The villagers caught remaining in the areas are either forced to the relocation sites or shot on sight.

"…They gave letters [to the villages] which said, ‘If you are still not living in Shadaw by this date, we will regard you as our enemies when we come to clear the land.’ They really came! They captured people in our village and then killed them. They captured 5 people, all male, on the fields in an old village and killed 4 of them after 1 person ran and escaped. The names of those killed were Ah Tun, Ker Reh, Moo Reh and Moo. As for the Shan person, N---, who owned the field, he ran away and escaped before they could kill him…" - "Klaw Reh" (M, 45), speaking of when he was ordered to relocate to Shadaw (Interview 1).

Although living in the jungle was fraught with problems associated with the danger of the patrols and finding food to eat, some people still tried to remain there, but many gave in to the order and moved to the relocation sites. The relocation sites were scattered throughout the state at Shadaw, Ywathit, Mawchi, Pah Saung, Baw La Keh, Kay Lia, Mar Kraw She, Tee Po Kloh and Nwa La Bo. As more villages were relocated, more sites such as Daw Dta Hay were created. All were under complete control of the Army, usually located adjacent to new or existing Army bases.

Upon arriving at the relocation sites, the villagers were provided very little in the way of food or land and nothing in the way of materials for constructing their new homes. In several of the sites, including Shadaw and Mawchi, villagers report that they were given some rice during the first 3 months, though it was much less than what they required, and after that nothing else. Shortly after arriving, the small amounts of rice the villagers had brought or been given were exhausted so they had to sell their belongings to get money to buy food at inflated prices from the Army-controlled shops. The current situation is a result of people not being provided food for months or years, and given little opportunity to grow their own food.


"…They gave us land to build a house on and I was able to build a house as big as this one [approximately 15 square meters]. At first, they also gave us some rice, one bowl of rice for each person for one month. There were 9 people in my family but they gave us 1.5 big tins [per month; about 24 kg / 53 lb] of rice. They gave us rice for 3 months, as they did everyone, and then they never gave us any again." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53), speaking about what the villagers were provided when they first arrived at Shadaw relocation site (Interview 4).

"They gave us 2 bowls [about 4 kg / 8.8 lb] of rice per person per month for the first 3 months. They only gave us rice, nothing else. However, later, they didn’t give us any so we had no food to eat. At that time, it was only my mother, myself and my elder sister…When we finished the rice they gave us, we sold what we had to buy more food to eat. However, now we have nothing. We couldn’t do anything so we didn’t want to stay there any longer. We came here because we needed to get out of there." - "Say Mya" (F, 21), speaking about what the villagers were given when they first arrived at Nwa La Bo relocation site (Interview 7).

The only immediately available option to slowly starving to death in the relocation sites is to flee to the jungle where life can be even more difficult. The perimeters of the relocation sites are largely left unguarded and the fences that the villagers are often forced to build are primarily around the army camps and not the actual relocation sites. The troops are lax in securing the camp perimeters mainly because they realise that the villagers have no choice but to go and forage for food outside the camps. This opportunity is often used by the villagers to flee the relocation site and go into hiding in the jungle, usually near their old villages.

This has been ongoing since the relocation sites were first established. Many villagers have reported that large numbers of people have already left the relocation sites in search of food and that the current populations of the relocation sites are much less than what they were originally. Shadaw relocation site reportedly had approximately 600-800 households in it after the bulk of the forced relocations, Nwa La Bo initially had 80-100 households and Daw Dta Hay had approximately 120 households. The testimonies of villagers who have escaped and managed to find their way to the Thai border are saying that there are far fewer families in those sites now and many who are remaining are starving and need to find another alternative.

However, the only alternative is to flee into the jungle and jungle life offers up many new problems. Not only is food still a difficulty, but also the same problems of health care and education are greatly exacerbated while hiding in the jungle. Army patrols sweeping out on "clean up" missions must be watched for at the cost of lives. If the villagers are found in the jungle they are often killed immediately or abused first and then killed. This often results in the villagers living in small groups of 1-4 families to be less detectable.

A KNPP officer has informed KHRG that the military patrols that once swept regularly through the Mawchi area killing anything and anyone they saw have now been reduced to approximately one patrol every three months. This reduction in the number of patrols may indicate that even the SPDC soldiers are aware that the people remaining in the jungle can only be few and hardly pose any threat. According to the same KNPP source, these "mopping up" patrols are still going out on a weekly basis in the Shadaw area. When patrols come near the villagers must quickly move to a new hiding place, so the villagers have to move a few times a month or even a few times a day depending on the number of patrols. Often when two groups of villagers see each other moving in the jungle they mistake each other for SPDC troops and flee in fear. Even when they meet and talk, they sometimes do not dare share the location of their hiding places for fear that SPDC troops may capture and interrogate them. These factors make it difficult for villagers to get together or pool their resources, such as food and knowledge of escape routes, in any way.

"We couldn’t work fields because they would come and shoot us dead when they saw us working on fields. The 4 dead people I told you about before were killed when they saw them working in the fields. You see! [His wife added:] If they don’t see you while you are working on the farm they uproot all the paddy or burn it all. Sometimes they collect paddy that has been harvested and burn it all." - "Klaw Reh" (M, 45) and his wife, describing the difficulty of farming for those hiding in the forest (Interview 1).

"…If the Burmese saw our footprints, they followed us so we had to hide in the bushes. They always followed our footprints to kill us. We never built houses and only prepared our beds to sleep. We could only stay a few nights in each place because when the Burmese came near we had to run to another place. We had to move from place to place so often that we can’t count how many shelters we built each year. If the Burmese saw our place we had to quickly move to another place." - "Maw Reh" (M, ~80), talking about the fear of SPDC patrols in the jungle around Shadaw (Interview 2).

"Sometimes, while we were moving from one hiding place to another, we came upon each other and ran away in fear. We were afraid of each other because [each of us thought] the other was the Burmese [troops]. When we meet each other we can’t ask each other where we live because we are afraid and have to hide ourselves. Even though we occasionally met other villagers while we were looking for food, we don’t know each other’s hiding places." - "Klaw Reh" (M, 45), describing the fear of the Army in the jungle around Shadaw and how that results in the villagers fearing one another (Interview 1).

Those in the jungle can produce little or no food because of the SPDC patrols and must rely mainly on what they can forage in the forest, and for those still in the relocation sites the situation is little better. In the relocation sites, those who have been allowed to grow food must either do it outside of the site, which requires them getting a pass, or grow things such as corn in small gardens next to their houses, which is the case in Shadaw relocation site. Villagers can pay the Army to obtain a plot of land to farm near the relocation site, though often part of their crop is taken by the Army. Those who have arrived as refugees in Thailand have reported that the Army is taking half of the rice produced by villagers.

"If there are four people in the family, we made a floor for four people to sleep on and made a roof with tarpaulin. People who had no tarpaulin, they made their roof with leaves. The situation wasn’t good so we couldn’t have large hillside fields and instead had to make small fields and hide our paddy after the harvest. … There is no village anymore; all villages were burned along with all the rice and paddy in the villages. I was hiding in the jungle for 3 years. We had to find food in the forest most of the time. Even those who lived with them in the relocation site had to find food like us. They [villagers from Shadaw] came looking for vegetables and then went back to either sell them so they could buy rice or exchange them for rice. They were also looking for Wa U [elephant foot yam] to eat as we were." - "Klaw Reh" (M, 45), speaking of when he was ordered to relocate to Shadaw (Interview 1).

"The first year that we were in Daw Dta Hay, we hired ourselves out to work on other peoples’ fields and bought rice to eat with the money we earned…[Recently] we couldn’t work to produce food. Even though the rains were less, if we didn’t have to do forced labour we could have worked and produced enough food for us to live. We also had to give them 50 Kyats per week to work on their farms [plots of land allocated by the Army] where we could stay with our families. If the Burmese needed us while we were farming, they told the village headman and he told us we had to come back. The money for the farm was already paid and we didn’t get it back." - "Mi Su" (F), talking about the food shortage in Daw Dta Hay (Interview 6).

"There were many problems but we had to come. There were people near farms along the way [to the border with Thailand], some of whom have no rice or food. The farmers also complain that they don’t have enough rice because the army takes half the paddy from their farms." - "Nyi Reh" (M,28), talking about the Army taking paddy from the farmers who have farms on the route to Thailand (Interview 9).

Even holding one of the passes which the villagers are required by the Army to have before leaving the camp doesn’t guarantee safety, particularly farther than a few miles from the camps. Villagers who have fled Shadaw site say that they were told that if they went more than 3 or 5 miles from the site they would be killed.

Another source of food for the villagers in the relocation sites was rice they had managed to hide in the jungle before their villages were destroyed. However, leaving the relocation site to retrieve the hidden rice was a dangerous proposition and could only result in small amounts of rice being brought back each time. By now all of that rice has either been used up by the villagers themselves, found and destroyed by the Army or taken by villagers hiding in the jungle who can’t find food elsewhere. The food shortage problems have been exacerbated in 1998-99 by widespread crop failures that are affecting not only the majority of Burma but other Southeast Asian nations as well. The erratic climate during this period has resulted in alternating droughts and floods, causing much lower yields in most of the region.

"Their rule for us was that we couldn’t go farther than 5 miles from Shadaw relocation site. If we went further, they would shoot us." - "Lu Mya" (F, 30), who fled Shadaw relocation site (Interview 5).

"In Nwa La Bo you can’t do any work to get food. The only way to get food is to sell all your belongings, such as the silver coins our parents gave us, and buy food. Finally, all our belongings were gone...They didn’t allow us to go to our old villages. They cleared a place nearby using a bulldozer but the soil there was no good so we had to go very far away to cut a farm in the hills…If we did go out, we had to get a pass from them which cost 10 Kyats… They only allowed us 2 or 3 days so we didn’t have enough time to work the farm. We didn’t get any rice from the farm because there was no rain." - "Baw Reh" (M, 27+), describing how the villagers in Nwa La Bo relocation site had to get food. The silver coins he mentions are likely colonial pre-war rupees which are held as family heirlooms in the area (Interview 8)

"We planted corn beside our house and [my husband] took that with him to eat. We ate corn when we had no rice. There was no paddy yield [the latest crop - 1998] because the weather was hot and there was no rain. We planted quite a bit of corn but it wasn’t enough because the Burmese came and ate it too." - "Eh Reh" (F, 35+), talking about growing small amounts of food in Shadaw relocation site and the Army taking some of it (Interview 10).

"…Some villagers who went to live in Shadaw still had rice in their old villages but people who were living in the jungle and didn’t go to Shadaw took that rice because they had nothing to eat. Also, the Burmese burned any rice they found in the old villages. The Burmese killed the villagers’ buffaloes and cattle that had been left behind in the old villages. Before we went to Shadaw we hid some rice in the jungle and later returned to get it to eat, but we finished all that. It was hard to keep on living." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53), describing the food shortage in Shadaw area (Interview 4).

In and around the area of Shadaw relocation site the villagers have been digging up a tuber called Wa U, elephant foot yam, which has become a main food source for those in the relocation sites and those living in the forest areas around Shadaw. Unfortunately, if this tuber is not cleaned and treated properly to remove the small amount of toxins found inside, the villagers get very ill. The Wa U has to be cleaned and sliced, then soaked in water for a minimum of 3 days. The shortage of usable water that plagues the whole area often results in the Wa U not being properly treated and thus causes illness. After drying the Wa U slices in the sun they can be boiled on their own or boiled together with rice. Wa U doesn’t appear to give the villagers much in the way of nutrition or energy, but it helps to fill their empty stomachs and hold off hunger so they eat it even though they know it can be dangerous.

"Some days we had enough rice to eat while other days we didn’t. We dug up elephant foot yam from the jungle and washed them in order to get rid of toxins. It is not safe to eat them without washing them. It would make you sick if you didn’t wash the toxins out. In some places there was too little water to clean them well so we got sick. When there was plenty of water no one got sick. When I got sick from eating it, I had no strength. I wanted to collapse everywhere I went. I wanted to vomit and go to the toilet. If I had some sour fruit to eat it would make me better. Most of the places we lived there was very little water." - "Maw Reh" (M, ~80), talking about Wa U, the tuber which the villagers in and around Shadaw are digging up to eat (Interview 2).

"When we had money we could buy rice from the Burmese shop but when we didn’t have enough money we had to boil rice to make rice soup and eat other things, like tubers. If there were no tubers there, many people would die of hunger. Tubers have become the main food for people living there." - "Kay Reh" (M, 50+), speaking of the Wa U tuber as the chief source of food from people in and around Shadaw (Interview 11).

Fortunately, the negative effects of the tuber do not seem to be fatal, but fatalities are occurring in the relocation sites for reasons just as basic and easily avoidable. Deaths from basic dehydration due to diarrhoea and vomiting are commonplace. In the area in and around the southwestern relocation site of Mawchi, it would seem that the majority of the people are dying from this, which would normally be easily treatable. Most of these deaths are among those hiding in the forests around Mawchi, but many have also died in the relocation site itself. According to both villagers and KNPP sources, this in combination with malaria, dysentery and infection from a host of parasites that can normally be found in the jungle have already killed more than half of the people who were living in the jungle in the Mawchi area. Villagers from the Mawchi area and most other areas say that before they fled there was always at least one member of their family who was sick, and that family members and friends have already died of minor diseases. The villagers in the jungle fear going very far from their hiding places because they may be killed if seen, so they resort to burying the dead in and around their small settlements, and this can lead to even further spread of disease. The villagers in the Mawchi area have virtually no access to medical supplies and the journey to flee the area is too long for those in poor health.


"The people who were hiding in the forest suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting. Almost every one of them died. The villagers couldn’t bury the dead in places far away so they buried them beside their shelters. As for our village, the Burmese are encamped and living there so people ran to hide in the jungle and then they got diarrhoea. They had no medicine so almost all of them died. Only a few people are left, some live in xxxx and some are still hiding in the xxxx forest." - "Paw Paw" (F, 27), describing the health conditions of people in and around Mawchi (Interview 13).

"My children died of diarrhoea while I was in the jungle. One died when he was four months old, I hadn’t named him yet. The other one died when he was 3 years old, his name was Htoo Nay Moo. The two children I have now were born in the jungle." - "Nga Reh" (M, 30), talking about two of his children who died from diarrhoea (Interview 15).

Hospital facilities are virtually unheard of in the relocation sites. One exception to this rule is in Shadaw, where the hospital is understaffed and the medicine is very expensive if available at all. Refugees who have come from Shadaw are reporting that the doctors who are meant to be working in the hospital in the relocation site are only coming once every 2 or 3 months and spending the rest of their time in Loikaw, presumably because they find life more comfortable there. The doctors are reportedly posted to care for the people in Shadaw, but they hardly ever appear in the relocation site. This is consistent with reports from other areas of Burma such as Shan and Karen States, where recently graduated doctors are posted to remote places but choose to stay in nearby towns instead. Diarrhoea, malaria, dysentery and the other common illnesses previously mentioned can all be found in Shadaw relocation site, and chicken pox has also caused problems and death for the villagers living just outside the relocation site. Those interviewed have noted that the few nurses that are at the hospital aren’t capable of dealing with anything other than minor problems. If a serious problem has to be treated, the person who is ill must pay to be taken to Loikaw for treatment or simply stay and suffer.

"When one of us was ill, sometimes the hospital in Shadaw didn’t have enough medicine so we had to buy medicine in other places like Shadaw town or Loikaw. The doctor had to give us a piece of paper with the name of the medicine we needed to take or inject. If we didn’t have the paper we couldn’t get the medicine. To get to Loikaw we have to walk for 4 hours to the bus stop at Bpon Chaung beside the Pon River. From there we can take the bus to Loikaw. In the first year there was a full time doctor in Shadaw, but later we didn’t know where they went to live and now there’s only a medic left there. The hospital in Shadaw is a township hospital but they don’t have all the medicines." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53), describing the lack of medical facilities in Shadaw relocation site (Interview 4).

"Many children got the chicken pox. We had no medicine so they suffered from that for 2 weeks. They are better now. A woman’s eldest child, a son, died of chicken pox in the jungle and now she has only one child. She has no husband." – "Lu Mya" (F, 30), talking about chicken pox infecting and in at least one case killing the children around Shadaw (Interview 5).

"There is a hospital but the doctors only come from Rangoon once every 2 or 3 months. The doctor’s duty is to be in Shadaw but when they come they live in Loikaw. They come and show their faces [in Shadaw] once every 2 or 3 months and then return [to Rangoon] after they finish their 2 year responsibility. Then another doctor comes. There are nurses in the hospital. If an emergency patient comes, they are ordered to go to the hospital in Loikaw. The patient must hire people to carry them to Loikaw because there is no bus, car or motorbike in Shadaw. If you can’t give people money to carry you they won’t carry you." - "Ni Reh" (M, 47), describing the poor service at the hospital in Shadaw relocation site (Interview 3).

Basic education is also lacking in the relocation sites. Most of the relocation sites have no schools whatsoever. However, there is some limited access to education in Shadaw. The school in Shadaw town, which previously only went to 9th Standard [Grade 9], now offers 10th Standard as well. However, space at the Shadaw school is limited and for the most part only Shadaw townspeople can send their children there. People in the relocation site only get a chance to send their children there if they have been at the site for some time, and even then they must pay the full cost of schooling. Very few of them have money to do this, so very few of their children go to school. Even if children are able to get into one of the small number of schools that are available they are only permitted to study Burmese. Study of the Karenni (Kayah) language and culture is forbidden. In Daw Dta Hay there is a primary school for the children, but if they wish to continue their education beyond that they must take the risk of going elsewhere to find it. Although education is available in some areas the young people are rarely able to go because they have to work to help their family survive.

"In the past there were only 9 grades in Shadaw School but now they have increased it to 10 grades. Only people who have lived in Shadaw for a long time can keep their children in school. People who come to the relocation site from other villages can’t keep their children in school." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53), describing the school in Shadaw town (Interview 4).

"I would really like to study but I think I am too old to go to school and my mother can’t afford to pay for it. My mother told me that I couldn’t go to school because she can’t send me. I cried. I would really like to go to school but we have no money. No one in my family can go to school. I had to stop going to school to do forced labour." - "Say Mya" (F, 21), speaking of how her family wasn’t able to get an education in Nwa La Bo relocation site (Interview 7).

"My sister, whose husband is a teacher, had to go because her husband was teaching. He is from Shadaw and has a field there. He is Kayah but is only allowed to teach Burmese. His salary is 1,000 Kyats because he is a middle school teacher." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53), about the prohibition on Kayah education at Shadaw relocation site (Interview 4).

Daw Dta Hay is not set up as a formal relocation site, but an existing village where others have been forced to settle. Villagers who were relocated to Daw Dta Hay say that there was recently an Army training exercise conducted nearby. The Army brought in children and adults aged 14 to 30 from other parts of Karenni State to participate in the training course, which was called ‘The Column 7 Training Exercise’. Many of the children who came told the villagers at the site that they were summoned by the Army and hadn’t been told where they were going when they were forced to go with the soldiers. Some young people from Daw Dta Hay said that they had been told they would have to join the training exercise as well, but they never did. After the exercise the trainees were reportedly sent to Loikaw, presumably to join one of the 4 SPDC Battalions that are based there. The people of Daw Dta Hay were ordered to provide large amounts of food and other support for the Army personnel who came to conduct the training. Little or nothing was given to the villagers in return for whatever food or goods they provided. Daw Dta Hay has also seen at least 3 of the village’s young girls taken as wives against their will by SPDC soldiers.


"The children who were to be in the training course came from town. Those children told us, ‘We didn’t know that they would bring us here. They called us and told us that we had to go for a training course but they took us here.’ Some of the children were Karen, some were Burmese and some were Shan. We don’t know which villages they came from. None of the children were Kayah. I would guess that the children were around 13 years old. Each group to be trained consisted of 20 children and they trained them group after group. When the Burmese held the opening for the training course, they killed a cow to eat and invited the village headmen and village criers to go eat with them. When they were finished the training, they sent them to Loikaw but I don’t know where they went after that." - "Mi Su" (F), talking about the Army training course in Daw Dta Hay (Interview 6).

"We had to do forced labour in the village and on the hill. There is an army training camp there called Sa Gka Khun [abbreviation for ‘Column 7’]. Soldiers from Battalions 43, 261, 250 and 102 came for the training. There were 30 to 50 soldiers from each battalion and they came from places like Dee Maw So, Pleh Ku, Hsi Hsaing and other places. Their commander and head trainer is Major Kyi Hlaing and he is from Pleh Ku. There are many officers staying there: Major Myeh Kyeh, Bo Win Myint and Bo Ne Win. The captains who came are Captains Aung Saung and Thay Htoo. Thay Htoo is Karen and is from Hsi Hsaing. There are also instructors, namely: Than Naing Oo, Moe Zaw Oo, Maw Way, Thant Oo, Kyaw Shwe, Chit Ko Ko and others. They had a training exercise there for soldiers ages 14 to 30 that they called ‘Column 7 Training Exercise’. There are over 100 soldiers. The soldiers are from many villages, such as Bay Yay, Hsi Hsaing and Dee Maw So. They are from all battalions including 250 and 261 and they went there for the training exercise. They said they would force us to do the exercise also, but they didn’t and we didn’t know when they were going to. They forced villagers to kill pigs for them [for an opening celebration banquet] and only gave them about one third of the cost." - "Nyi Reh" (M, 28), giving details on the people involved in the Army training course in Daw Dta Hay (Interview 9).

"They like to marry women who are too young. One soldier wanted to take a 12 year old Kayah girl named C--- as his wife. People told them the girl is too young and not to take her but their commander forced the people to give her to his soldier. The girl had to agree even though she didn’t want to. Another girl, L---, was studying in grade 8 and had to stop studying [to marry a soldier]. She was 14 years old. An 18 year old girl named H--- also had to marry a soldier. They didn’t want to marry the soldiers but the commander said they should marry his soldiers so they had to do it. That was last year. One of the girls is close to having a child. Their parents aren’t very happy about this." - "Nyi Reh" (M, 28), speaking of women forced to marry soldiers in Daw Dta Hay (Interview 9).

Earning money in the camps is limited to odd jobs that are rarely available and don’t pay very much. Some of the villagers in the relocation sites look for work outside, but as the SPDC has destroyed all the villages in the area, paying work is very difficult to find. Some people have been able to work for the Army as guides, interpreters, teachers, etc. However, they don’t get paid much and what they are paid is often reduced because of unfair fees. Those who have been lucky enough to get a job in the relocation sites aren’t given anything to support their families so while they are away working the family gets nothing to eat. The small amount of work that can be found outside of the relocation sites virtually always requires a pass costing from 5 to 50 Kyats, but a pass doesn’t guarantee safety for the one who holds it.


"You have to get a pass. However, there is no village to go to because all villages were destroyed. Before, we didn’t have to pay money for the passes but now people have to pay 10 or 15 Kyats for a pass. ... There is a market area 3 miles away from Shadaw which you can go to. If you go farther than 3 miles from Shadaw, the Burmese soldiers may shoot and kill you or capture you to porter for them even if you have a pass." - "Ni Reh" (M, 47), speaking of work options in Shadaw relocation site (Interview 3).

"I was given 750 Kyats [per month] but they deducted many fees and taxes so each month I only received 200 or 300 Kyats. They deducted the cost of rice, 260 [Kyats per month], donations for social occasions, fees for sports, the price for post cards and they also said they borrowed money from us. They deducted the cost of 1 big tin and 6 bowls of rice from our salaries but they never gave us that much." – "Lu Mya" (F, 30), talking about the Army paying her as a teaching assistant in Shadaw relocation site (Interview 5).

"He also hired himself out for carrying goods from the Pon River to Shadaw. The car only runs from Loikaw to the Pon River so merchants need people to carry their goods [the rest of the way]. People who do day labour to get money to buy food go and carry goods there to get money." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53) speaking about the Husband of "Mi Su" who periodically found work outside of Shadaw relocation site (Interview 5).

However, most of the labour to be found is non-paying forced labour. Forced labour or Loh Ah Pay (‘voluntary labour’), as the Army likes to call what they force the villagers to do, is commonplace in and around the camps and the villagers aren’t given any money or food for their labour. The Army forces the villagers to work on a daily or weekly basis; generally one person from each family must go. This forced labour includes clearing bushes and trees from the roadsides both inside and outside the relocation sites, cleaning Army buildings, cultivating land for the Army, hauling water for the Army, building fences around the Army camps, digging bunkers, road construction, portering for the Army and other general servant work. The villagers are also being used to construct a road from Daw Wah Kaing to Daw Dta Hay. There is also a road 150 to 200 kilometres long being built from Mawchi westward to Toungoo; KHRG has previously documented forced labour occurring since early 1998 on the Toungoo end of this road [see "False Peace: Increasing SPDC Military Repression in Toungoo District of Northern Karen State", KHRG #99-02, 25/3/99], but has not yet been able to confirm reports of villagers being used as forced labour near the Mawchi end of the road. Getting from the Mawchi area to the refugee camps in Thailand is particularly difficult, so there are few people arriving in the camps from that area.


"They forced us to carry stones that were to be used for making a road between the soldiers’ area near Daw Wah Kaing and a place beside Daw Dta Hay. They forced us to go in groups of 10 or 20. People from all the villages near ours had to go. They demanded a man from each family go but if there was no man, a woman had to go. Children and old people had to go also. If the old people couldn’t go, they had to pay a fee. We carried the stones to a vehicle that was pulling a cart and then we had to carry the stones from the cart to the road. The stones were very big and heavy so I had a lot of pain in my body. It was easier for us to take the rocks off the cart because we could just push them off; lifting them on to the cart was very difficult. They didn’t give us time to rest and if we took a rest they would yell at us and beat us. They only gave us time to eat once a day, at noon time. They never gave us rice, we had to bring our own. We were only permitted a moment to drink water which we either brought from home or found in a stream on the way. When we were finished having a drink we had to continue working right away. We had to work very hard." - "Mi Su" (F), talking about forced labour while she was in Daw Dta Hay (Interview 6).

"Battalion 250 forced us to plant seedlings in a monastery garden on a hill. It could have been rubber but I don’t know. Their army camp is just below our village, Nwa La Bo, on the plain. One person from each house had to go every day of every week. They never gave us anything to eat while we were working, we had to bring food from home. If we didn’t have food at home, we didn’t eat." - "Say Mya" (F, 21), describing forced labour in Nwa La Bo relocation site (Interview 7).

"Yes, I had to go for Loh Ah Pay one day each week. Usually we had to cut bamboo and build a fence. We also had to cut grass and bushes beside the road. Men, women and children starting at age 14 had to go for Loh Ah Pay." - "Kay Reh" (M, 50+), describing those who had to go for forced labour in Shadaw relocation site (Interview 11).

"Many people can’t work on their farms and produce food because the army forces each family to do 5 acres of a rubber plantation. The plantation is beside their army camp. The people are cutting and clearing the area but the rubber seedlings haven’t come yet. The army is forcing people to prepare the area before the seedlings arrive. People also have to do clearing and do plantations of things like peanuts and other kinds of beans for the army." - "Nyi Reh" (M, 28), talking about forced labour at Daw Dta Hay (Interview 9).

"We always have to do Loh Ah Pay and portering and can only do our own work 2 or 3 days a week. We have had to do Loh Ah Pay every year but it’s been getting worse in ’98 and ’99. … Sometimes it takes 1½ months, other times it takes a week. You can’t really say for how long. Some people had to porter for years and years and some people died on the way. They’ve been calling people to porter in this way for a long time; since before the student uprising in Burma." - "Ni Reh" (M, 47), describing forced labour and portering in and around Shadaw relocation site (Interview 3).

Doing work for the Army not only prevents people from being able to do what little work they can to support their own families, but it also puts people in harm’s way. The villagers doing forced labour are routinely beaten if they haven’t finished their work, have been taking a short rest or simply don’t do a "good enough" job. If villagers are found hiding in the jungle and are lucky enough not to be killed on the spot, they are often forced to work and porter for the Army as well, and people caught in this manner are treated particularly brutally. Porters, drawn both from the relocation sites and the jungle, are expendable to the Army. If they are suffering from one or more of the many ailments that plague the area or are not able to carry their load they are subjected to abuse and are either killed outright or beaten and left to die in the jungle. With no medicine to speak of and no help, it doesn’t take long to die when left alone in the jungle.


"If you don’t work hard and do your best, they beat you. I saw them beat my friends. I don’t know their names, we didn’t know each other very well. They were from other villages and had come to live with us when we were all forced to relocate. The soldiers said to them, ‘Do it nicely.’ My friends said, ‘We have never done it before so how can we do it nicely?’ Then he beat them. My friends were women about the same size as I am. He beat them with a stick wider than my big toe. He hit them too many times for me to count. Some of them were crying." - "Say Mya" (F, 21), describing the treatment of villagers being forced to build a road from beside Nwa La Bo to Peh Kong village (Interview 7).

"People have to stand up while they are working. If they sit down, the soldiers beat them with bamboo as big as my forearm [about 5 cm in diameter]. I saw them beat E---, R--- and a few other people. They were sitting down so the soldiers beat them and said, ‘Don’t you see what those other people are doing?’ People can’t even sit and rest." - "Nyi Reh" (M, 28), talking about the treatment of villagers being forced to build a road near Daw Dta Hay. The road probably leads to Daw Wah Kaing (Interview 9).


"I was able to avoid them but they captured other people. Anytime I saw them I ran away. If they saw me it would have been better that they shot me dead rather than capture me because they treat you very badly if they capture you. B--- and his elder brother, Mee Reh, were captured in our hiding place by the Burmese. They captured them while they were harvesting paddy. They forced them to porter for one month but they couldn’t carry [much] so they beat and hit them a lot. Mee Reh couldn’t [walk] anymore because he was tired so they tied rope around his neck and pulled him. After pulling him by the neck for a while, they thought he was dead and left him. He wasn’t dead and later returned to us. His brother, B---, also escaped during the night and came back to our place but Mee Reh died two months later. He couldn’t do anything. He was sick all the time, coughing up blood, and then he finally died. The elder brother is dead and the younger one is still in the jungle suffering from what happened. When B--- first came back he was also coughing blood and he couldn’t work but he can work a bit now." - "Klaw Reh" (M, 45), describing how villagers found in the jungle around Shadaw are treated (Interview 1).

"In the first two years [’96 and ’97] I could still work and produce food but in ’98 the army came and called me time after time to be a guide or interpreter for them. … They came looking for me at my house a few times but I wasn’t home, so the commander, Soe Htun, gave my wife a bullet. … My wife and children wept and didn’t want to stay there any longer." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53), explaining why he and his family fled Shadaw relocation site (Interview 4).

 

Most villagers are determined to survive as long as they can near their land but that often proves to be futile. One of the major problems in getting from the jungle to the Thai border is that people simply don’t know which way to go. In particular, the people in the southwest corner of Karenni, around Mawchi, have a very long way to go to get to the Thai border and the threat of being seen and killed is all too real. The fear and distrust that the Army patrols have engendered in the villagers living in the forest also poses a problem for those wishing to find refuge in Thailand. The villagers are afraid to confront or join with one another for fear of informers or detection and this reduces their options when looking for people to help lead them towards the Thai border. KNPP soldiers often help the villagers to find their way, but there are a lot of areas which the KNPP soldiers can’t reach. Often villagers will follow merchants who have been previously to the Thai border. Some of the villagers in the north of Karenni State head into Shan State to find their way to Thailand, but that route is no easier to travel. The trip offers many obstacles which pose a particular problem for the sick and elderly. There are many hills on the way to the border, rivers have no bridges, and the boats that were once available to ferry people across are gone. When the villagers are fleeing to the Thai border, they have to travel at night and away from roads to avoid detection by the Army. One common meeting point for villagers who are fleeing seems to be along the banks of the Salween River. Many villagers have reported joining larger groups of people by the river and then continuing to Thailand together.

 


"When they saw people, they beat some and killed some. They also took our rice to eat or destroy when they saw our farms. We didn’t allow the children to cry, if they did we scolded them. The children didn’t dare cry because they were afraid too. We lived like that until we couldn’t tolerate the hunger any longer and then we came here." - "Maw Reh" (M, ~80), describing the fear that is felt while trying to flee through the jungle to Thailand from Shadaw relocation site (Interview 2).

"We arrived at the Salween River at 6:00 p.m. My family and another 3 families left together, but when we arrived at the Salween River we found many people there. We looked for people to help us cross the river because it’s a difficult river to cross. We then saw some Karenni soldiers and they showed us the way to come here. I had never been here before but some of the people among us had come here before to sell and buy things so we came with them." - "Doh Reh" (M, 53), describing the difficulty of getting to the Thai border from Shadaw relocation site (Interview 4).

"There were Shan farms on the way and if we arrived at a farm in the morning the farmer gave us food. We spoke to each other in Burmese and I asked them if they wanted to come here with us but they didn’t dare." - "Nyi Reh" (M, 28), describing his flight through Shan State to Thailand (Interview 9).

The trip to the Thai border can take up to 3 weeks, and in the case of villagers coming from the Mawchi area it can take up to 2 or 3 months. However, many villagers from the Mawchi area don’t dare to make the dangerous trip to the Thai border and are instead taking their chances holding out in the jungle, a choice which is resulting in many deaths from starvation and disease. People often run out of food on the way, but there is no access to additional food along the way except by sharing with other people who are in the same circumstances or borrowing food from villages which they happen to pass. Most of the villagers arrive at the refugee camps in a state of malnutrition and very poor health.

"They are still living in the jungle. They would like to come here but they can’t because it’s not easy to get here. They didn’t come with us because they didn’t see us. We had to come secretly. We couldn’t tell anyone where we were going. Now, we dare not trust anyone because we are afraid they’ll inform the Burmese." - "Soe Reh" (M, 63), describing the difficulty villagers are having getting to the Thai border from the Mawchi area (Interview 14).

"We saw many people on the way. I saw a grandmother beside Nwa La Bo who couldn’t walk and had to have people carry her. When she was able to walk a little, another woman couldn’t walk and had to be carried. There were many women who came who had to be carried because of illness or fatigue." - "Say Mya" (F, 21), describing the flight to Thailand (Interview 7).

"I just followed people who had come here before to sell things. The people we met on the way [to the border with Thailand] didn’t have much rice to eat. As for us, we ate the rice we brought with us. There are 7 people in our family and we carried one big tin of rice to eat. People who didn’t have rice asked for a bit from those people who did. We shared with each other but when nobody had any rice we didn’t eat." - "Eh Reh" (F, 35+), describing the situation of villagers fleeing to Thailand from the Shadaw area (Interview 10).

"When I was taken to the hospital [in Thailand] the nurse … scolded me. She said, ‘Why didn’t you come earlier? The child is too ill.’ I told them that I was living very far away and couldn’t come any earlier. We couldn’t understand each other. It was very difficult for me." - "Mi Su" (F), about arriving in Thailand after fleeing Daw Dta Hay (Interview 6).

Since January of this year over 1,500 villagers have arrived in Thailand seeking refuge. The majority of new arrivals are coming from the Shadaw area but some people are coming from other areas, such as the Mawchi and Loikaw areas. Thus far all of the arriving refugees have been allowed into the refugee camps by the Thai officials but there is often a delay before the Thai officials will permit aid to be taken into the camps for the new arrivals. There are still serious concerns over camp security, especially after the refugee camp known as Karenni Camp 2 was attacked by the Karenni National Democratic Army (KNDA), a ‘splinter’ organisation aligned with the SLORC/SPDC, in January 1997. On May 2, 1999 Burmese soldiers attacked a Thai police post in Mae Hong Son province and left evidence that would point to a Karenni group (KNDA) as the perpetrators. Mae Hong Son has a total of 6 refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border. In light of this most recent event and attempted deception, security in and around the camps is of high concern.

The future of the villagers, both in the relocation sites and in the jungle, looks bleak if the situation continues in its current direction. The SPDC has made it clear that nothing less than unconditional surrender will be accepted from the KNPP and so the fighting continues. With the weather patterns in the region continuing to be erratic, it is difficult to predict whether the rice crop in 1999 will be successful, or a complete failure as it has been for the past two years. Even with good growing weather it is very unlikely that villagers in most of Karenni will have the required seed paddy or safe access to their fields, both of which are essential if they are to produce any crop at all. All of their villages have been destroyed and all of the food reserves are long since used up. Food is scarce and the death rate due to starvation and minor illnesses is only likely to increase unless something is done soon. The SPDC appears to have no intention but to continue on with business as usual. There are even indications that they may start building more new roads, which would all be built with forced labour and would therefore put further strain on the already very desperate situation for the villagers. The villagers are starving and aren’t able to move anywhere without the risk of being arrested and forced to work or simply shot on sight. Fundamental political change in Burma still seems to remain the only hope, albeit remote, for these people.


"Just before we left, we heard them saying they’re going to build a road. I’m not sure which road they are going to build. It could be from Dta Tha Maw to this border or a Shadaw-Pon river road, I don’t know exactly. They have engineers and bulldozers but surely they are going to call villagers to help them. They can’t do anything without villagers. … We came out because we couldn’t tolerate it anymore. We were forced to work until we couldn’t work on our own farms anymore, both this year and last year. In ’97-’98 it was better than in ’98-’99, when we could not even harvest one basket of paddy. We didn’t have food and we didn’t have time to go out and find food because of the work we were forced to do. Our lives were getting very hard. Finally, we decided to go out and hide in the forest regardless of what would happen to us. When we got to the forest we met many people who were talking about coming here so we came with them."
 - "Ni Reh" (M, 47), describing the desperate situation around the Shadaw area (Interview 3).

Index of Interviews

 

 

 

Note: The names of all those interviewed have been changed. Numbers correspond to village numbers in the list at the end of the report and on the accompanying map.

FR = Forced Relocation, RS = Relocation Site, FL = Forced Labour.

 

 

#

Pg.

Name

Sex

Age

Village Subject

1

18

"Klaw Reh"

M

45

Su Leh (#17) Escaped FR to Shadaw in 1996, his village was burned 4 months later. Lived in the jungle for 3 years, staying in hiding, secretly buying rice from Shadaw. FL, abuse of porters, death of farmers and children.

2

22

"Maw Reh"

M

~80

Thirida (#19&20)

Daw Tanaw (#8)

Escaped FR to Shan State and fled to the jungle. Lost 5 children to illnesses. Living in hiding, death of farmers.

3

24

"Ni Reh"

M

47

xxxx, Toungoo District, Karen State Lived in Shadaw town and RS for total of over 25 years. 2 children died in Shadaw hospital, doesn’t know why. FL and portering. Life in Shadaw, food shortage, hospital, school, passes, etc.

4

27

"Doh Reh"

M

53

Thirida (#19&20) FR to Shadaw RS, lived there for 2+ years. Worked for SLORC/SPDC as a sanitation worker, was given nothing to feed his family. Living in Shadaw, food problems, FL, porters beaten. Difficult journey to Thailand.

5

32

"Lu Mya"

F

30

Shadaw town Born and raised in Shadaw town. FR to ShadawRS and worked in the school there. Husband portered and was questioned by MI. Fled to live in the jungle, life in the jungle, death of children. Difficult journey to safety.

6

36

"Mi Su"

F

xx

Kla Leh (#15?)

Thirida (#19&20)

3 children died of basic illnesses and hunger. Went to Daw Dta Hay during FR. FL before and during pregnancy, husband was village crier. Army training course in Daw Dta Hay.

7

39

"Say Mya"

F

21

Thirida (#19&20) FR to Nwa La Bo in 1996, stayed there for almost 3 years. Food shortage, FL, villagers beaten, lack of education. Difficult journey to Thailand.

8

42

"Baw Reh"

M

27+

Thirida (#19&20) Village destroyed and FR to Nwa La Bo. Food shortage, villagers arrested, beaten and jailed.

9

44

"Nyi Reh"

M

28

Daw Dta Hay FL and beating of villagers, extortion. Villagers beaten, jailed and received shock treatment. Army training course in Daw Dta Hay. Soldiers force young women to marry them.

10

47

"Eh Reh"

F

35+

Daw Wi Gkou FR to Shadaw RS, 3 children died due to lack of medicine. FL and food shortages.

11

48

"Kay Reh"

M

50+

Daw Wi Gkou FR to Shadaw RS. FL, villagers beaten, food problems.

12

49

"Meh Oo"

F

xx

Shadaw Township FR to Shadaw RS. Daughter had to do FL, food shortage, Church in Shadaw.

13

50

"Paw Paw"

F

27

Po Bu Ku (#116) FR to Mawchi RS, later went to Loikaw because of food shortage. Husband was taken by SLORC/SPDC and hasn’t been seen since, presumed dead. Life and suffering in Mawchi, FL. Widespread death in the jungle from basic diseases.

14

52

"Soe Reh"

M

63

Suah Bper FR to Mawchi RS in 1996. Lived there for 4 months then fled because of complete lack of food. Life in Mawchi, FL, frightening journey to Thailand.

15

54

"Nga Reh"

M

30

Suah Bper FR to Mawchi and fled after 3 months. 2 children died in the jungle of diarrhoea, 2 more born in the jungle.

 

 

Interviews

Interview #1

NAME: "Klaw Reh" SEX: M AGE: 45 INTERVIEWED: 4/99.
FAMILY: Married. 2 children aged 11 and 16. Wife is 30 years old.
ADDRESS: Kyu Leh [Su Leh, village #17], in Shadaw area. 
DESCRIPTION: Lived in the jungle around Shadaw before fleeing to Thailand.

Q: How many people came here with you?

A: 382 people. They live separately. Some people are in Section x [of the refugee camp] and others are in Sections xx and x.

Q: When did you arrive here?

A: I arrived on January 16, 1999. I came from the forest. We went to hide in the forest and then finally came here. The Burmese came to here and there[everywhere] and if they saw us, they captured and beat us so we had to go hide in the forest. They wanted us to go live in Shadaw. We didn’t dare go to Shadaw. They forced villagers from all villages [in the area] to go live in Shadaw, however, [many] people didn’t dare go to live there so they ran to live in the forest.

Q: When did they force people to go to Shadaw?

A: [They’ve been doing that] since 3 years ago. They gave letters [to the villages] which said, "If you are still not living in Shadaw by this date, we will regard you as our enemies when we come to clear the land." They really came! They captured people in our village and then killed them. They captured 5 people, all male, on the fields in an old village and killed 4 of them after 1 person ran and escaped. The names of those killed were Ah Tun, Ker Reh, Moo Reh and Moo. As for the Shan person, N---, who owned the field, he ran away and escaped before they could kill him. He was tied to a tree with rope and they almost shot him. He pushed off the rope and rolled himself down the slope of the hill and then finally was able to return. He didn’t come here but [I’m not sure why], maybe he has some sort of problem preventing him from coming. That was a long time ago, in 1998, but I don’t know which month. It was during the time of sowing the paddy[possibly June/July].

Q: Were all 4 of the people who were killed Karenni?

A: No, some were Shan and some were Kayah. There were 3 Shan but one escaped so only two of them, [Ah Tun and Moo] were killed, the other 2 people who were killed, Moo Reh and Ker Reh, were Kayah. Moo Reh was about 45 years old and Ker Reh was about 20 years old. They both have families and Ker Reh’s wife arrived here 5 days ago with some other people who arrived recently. Her name is O--- and she has 2 children.

Q: Based on your own knowledge, how many people living in the jungle did the Burmese kill?

A: I know of 5 people. Meh Reh has disappeared [and is presumed dead] but we’ve never seen his dead body. The Burmese came when we were going to get a kind of liquid from a tree that can be used to make a torch. His friends ran away when they heard the sound of the Burmese. He is deaf so he didn’t hear the Burmese coming and they captured him. After that we went to his place but we didn’t see him. We did see a rod [approximately 5 cm, 2 inches, in diameter] with blood on it so I think they beat him to death with the rod.

Q: Did many people from your village go to Shadaw when they were forcing people to go there?

A: There were about 30 houses in our village and 6 of them went to Shadaw. Some also went to live [in the area of] the Pon River and some went to hide in the jungle. Now all [of those 6 houses] have left Shadaw except one. They lived in Shadaw for one year and couldn’t tolerate it any longer so they left and hid in the jungle.

Q: When Kyu Leh villagers were forced to go and live in Shadaw, did they force only Kyu Leh village to go or did they force any other villages also?

A: They forced the people from many villages, such as Thirida, Daw Tanaw, Leh Du, Tee Leh [Pray Kyu Leh in Kayah], Daw Klaw Leh, and many other villages. Pray Kyu Leh is to the east of Thirida and is also near our village, Kyu Leh. They demanded that we go live in Shadaw but people didn’t want to go so some went to live in the jungle, some went to live near the Pon river and some went to live in Daw Ta Hay. Some of the people did go to live in Shadaw.

Q: How many people are living in the jungle?

A: I can’t tell you how many people because we didn’t live together. We lived far from each other. Sometimes, while we were moving from one hiding place to another, we came upon each other and ran away in fear. We were afraid of each other because [each of us thought] the other was the Burmese [troops]. When we meet each other we can’t ask each other where we live because we are afraid and have to hide ourselves. Even though we occasionally met other villagers while we were looking for food, we don’t know each other’s hiding places.

Q: How many families were living with you in your hiding place?

A: There were 8 families, all from my village. We all came here together as we are all related.

Q: When you hid in the jungle, did you hide near Kyu Leh village?

A: Yes, we hid in the jungle near Kyu Leh. Sometimes we had to change our place 3 or 4 times in one month. If the Burmese weren’t coming, we could stay in one place for one or two months. Sometimes, when the Burmese were coming, we had to change our place 3 or 4 times in one day. It depended on the situation.

Q: Could you build your house?

A: If there are four people in the family, we made a floor [big enough] for four people to sleep on and made a roof with tarpaulin. People who had no tarpaulin, they made their roof with leaves. The situation wasn’t good so we couldn’t have large hillside fields and instead had to make small fields and hide our paddy after the harvest. There was less rain and water, but hillside fields don’t need as much water as flat paddy fields.

Q: How did you get food when you were in the jungle?

A: In 1996 they gave us the letter [telling them to relocate] and after 3 or 4 months of forcing the villagers to relocate, they burned the village. [At first]we secretly went back to our farms and gardens to get food. There is no village anymore; all villages were burned along with all the rice and paddy in the villages. I was hiding in the jungle for 3 years. We had to find food in the forest most of the time. Even those who lived with them in the relocation site had to find food like us. They [villagers from Shadaw] came looking for vegetables and then went back to either sell them so they could buy rice or exchange them for rice. They were also looking for Wa U [elephant foot yam] to eat as we were. We ate that when we had no rice, but sometimes we had a bit of rice so we could cook it with rice also.

His wife: When we didn’t have rice to eat we dug up elephant foot yams and brought them to our place. We slice them and then cover them with cloth and but them in water over night. We change the water each day for at least 3 days. We then squeeze out the liquid and put them in the sun to dry. Then we could cook and eat them.

Q: Couldn’t you work on your fields?

A: We couldn’t work fields because they would come and shoot us dead when they saw us working on fields. The 4 dead people I told you about before were killed when they saw them working in the fields. You see!

His wife: If they don’t see you while you are working on the farm they uproot all the paddy or burn it all. Sometimes they collect paddy that has been harvested and burn it all.

Q: How many months did you have to go with no rice to eat?

A: We can’t say how many months. Sometimes we didn’t have anything to eat for a few days and sometimes we had no rice for 5 days. When we had rice we boiled it and drank it [rice soup is made to add more volume to the small amount of rice that is available]. When we had no rice, we ate plants and tubers.

Q: How could you get rice?

A: We secretly went to buy rice from Shadaw. When the situation was still good we worked so we had some money and belongings. We bought rice with the money and then finally had to sell our belongings to buy rice. We weren’t allowed to be there so if they saw us they captured us. People couldn’t travel without passes. If we lived with them in Shadaw they would treat us very badly, so we didn’t want to go and live there.

His wife: We sold all the belongings we had in order to buy rice.

Q: Do they feed the people who are living in Shadaw?

A: No, they don’t feed them. People there have to find their food on their own. They are able to go out and move about with a pass, but we had no rights to travel as they did. They force people to work for them too much. If they [the villagers] can work for themselves for one day they have to work for the government for 2 days.

Q: Do you know anyone from Shadaw who has come here?

A: I know one person, a man named S---, who came from Nwa La Bo relocation site.

Q: Did they capture people in the jungle and force them to porter?

A: I was able to avoid them but they captured other people. Anytime I saw them I ran away. If they saw me it would have been better that they shot me dead rather than capture me because they treat you very badly if they capture you. B--- and his elder brother, Mee Reh, were captured in our hiding place by the Burmese. They captured them while they were harvesting paddy. They forced them to porter for one month but they couldn’t carry [much] so they beat and hit them a lot. Mee Reh couldn’t [walk] anymore because he was tired so they tied rope around his neck and pulled him. He had no strength to walk and they just wanted to torture him. After pulling him by the neck for a while, they thought he was dead and left him. He wasn’t dead and later returned to us. His brother, B---, also escaped during the night and came back to our place but Mee Reh died two months later. He couldn’t do anything. He was sick all the time, coughing up blood, and then he finally died. The elder brother is dead and the younger one is still in the jungle suffering from what happened. When B--- first came back he was also coughing blood and he couldn’t work but he can work a bit now.

Q: Was there any medicine in the jungle?

A: No medicine. He came back and was coughing blood and couldn’t do anything. He was suffering from the Burmese beating and kicking him. He was 50 years old and died when the harvest was finished in ’98 or ’97. That’s the same year that the other four died.

Q: Where did they have to porter to?

A: They were travelling around. They [the Burmese soldiers] were just looking for people in the jungle and the porters had to carry their things. Each day we had to find [another] hiding place. We moved from place to place, one or two places every day. If they see anything in the old villages they shoot and kill it all. If they see people or buffaloes they shoot them dead. That’s what they said [they would do]. They are trying to find us in the forest. After we had hid in many hiding places we knew that they would see us some day so we went to Shan State. We couldn’t live for a long time in Shan State so we came back to Kayah state again.

Q: When you were in the jungle were there any ill children?

A: Yes, there were. Some children were thin but others were bigger because they were suffering from oedema [which swells up their bodies]. We could only watch them. If they lived, they were lucky and if they died, they weren’t lucky. In our hiding place there were 8 families and 5 children died. Some of the old people were also ill but they didn’t die.

Q: Could the children in the jungle study?

A: There was no teacher. We were on the run all the time so we couldn’t ask teachers to join us.

Q: Do you know the names of the mother and daughter who were taken by the Burmese soldiers to sleep with them?

A: The mother’s name is L--- and her daughter’s name is B---. We’re not sure if they slept with them or not because we didn’t go to see them. Their village is xxxx. They were living in the jungle and were going to their farm when the Burmese soldiers met them and took them to go and stay with them for a few nights. We don’t know if they raped them or not. We don’t know what they did with them, because they didn’t say anything when they came back.

Q: Did you ever go to Shan State?

A: While we were living for 3 years in the jungle, a battle occurred between Karenni soldiers and Burmese soldiers at Lweh Pee, which is a mountain. There’s no village there, it’s above Daw Tanaw. In 1998, at the beginning of the harvest [Oct./Nov.], I went to live in Shan State, on the other side of the river that defines the border, for a month in order to find refuge. We were staying in a place between xxxx and xxxx. We went there before harvesting our paddy and returned later to harvest it. Our farm still had paddy when we returned, but the farms near the path had all been destroyed. After the battle, the Burmese were looking for people in the jungle. We didn’t let the Shan people know we were there because we were afraid they would tell the Burmese and the Burmese would come to find us.

Q: When you went to Shan State, how many families went with you?

A: The 8 families we were with together in the jungle. We didn’t know about other families living in different areas of the jungle. We didn’t know where they hid when the Burmese came or if they had gone to the Shan side or not. When the Burmese come, they even kill villagers. If they can capture them, they torture them before killing them. Some of the people they capture and torture aren’t killed, instead they force them to go with them and carry things for them.

Q: How many days did it take you to come here from your hiding place?

A: 8 days. We came out in the evening. We had troubles climbing up and down the mountains because some of the people were ill, but we didn’t see any Burmese on the way. Each of us carried 30 milktins [about 8 kg / 18 lb] of rice for the journey. We walked through the jungle [not along the path] on our way here from our jungle hiding place. We came through the jungle so we wouldn’t see any landmines. If we had come by the path, there would have been landmines.

Q: Have you ever come here before?

A: No, but in the past, when the situation was good we came in this direction to sell things, so we guessed the direction [to come here] and came through the jungle. We didn’t dare walk too close or too far from the path.

 

Interview #2

NAME: "Maw Reh" SEX: M AGE: ~80 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married and had 12 children but now only has 7. Others lost to illness.
ADDRESS: Thirida (#19&20), Daw Tanaw (#8), Kayah State 
DESCRIPTION: Lived in the jungle around Shadaw before fleeing to Thailand.

Q: Why and how did your children die?

A: All of them died of illness. They died while we were living in Daw Tanaw, Kayah State. The situation was good at that time and the Burmese hadn’t forced us to leave our village. We could still stay in our village and that’s where they died. My children went to work on the farm and when they got back they got ill and died. They were all adults at the time. At that time there were no Burmese soldiers in our area. The situation got worse after I wasn’t able to have babies anymore and the Burmese came and made problems for us. We Kayah people don’t know about or have any medicine. If anyone is ill and has no medicine to take or inject they can die.

Q: Where is your village exactly? Thirida or Daw Tanaw?

A: We lived in Thirida and if we got bored we went to live in Daw Tanaw. If we were bored in Daw Tanaw we went to live in Thirida. We just work on farms here and there.

Q: Who forced you to leave your village?

A: The Burmese forced us. They forced us to go and live in Shan State but we didn’t go. We went to hide in the jungle but there was no safe place for us there. When they came and saw people who were hiding in the jungle they killed them. Anywhere they saw people they killed them.

Q: How many people did they shoot and kill?

A: They shot 5 people in the area below ours. They shot and killed people on the only path from Shadaw to Kyu Leh. Some of them were Shan people and some of them were Kayah. Among them was one of my nephews, his name was Ker Reh. He has a wife and 2 children who lived in xxxx, Kayah State. His wife lived in the jungle with him. When he went to work on fields in xxxx village the Burmese killed him. He didn’t have his own field and instead hired himself out to work on the fields of a Shan person. When they were working together, Shan and Kayah, the Burmese came and killed them, the Shan people also. The Shan owner of the field, N---, was killed also.

"Klaw Reh": The field owner escaped but the other Shan people, Ah Tun and Moo, as well as the Kayah people, Ker Reh and Moo Reh, were killed. The field is inxxxx [the Kayah name], which is called xxxx in Burmese.

Q: Did you have rice everyday?

A: Some days we had enough rice to eat while other days we didn’t. We dug up elephant foot yam from the jungle and washed them in order to get rid of toxins. It is not safe to eat them without washing them. It would make you sick if you didn’t wash the toxins out. In some places there was too little water to clean them well so we got sick. When there was plenty of water no one got sick. When I got sick from eating it, I had no strength. I wanted to collapse everywhere I went. I wanted to vomit and go to the toilet. If I had some sour fruit to eat it would make me better. Most of the places we lived there was very little water. If there’s little water and it’s not flowing we would get sick even though we left them in the water for 3 days and 3 nights. When there was little water we had to put them back in the water for another 3 days. After 6 days we could take them out of the water and squeeze out the liquid. Then it was safe for us to cook and eat them.

Q: Who taught you to eat them?

A: When we were hungry we ate anything we could eat. We saw other people eat them so we ate them. When there was plenty of water and we carefully washed them and soaked them in water for 2 nights, it still could make us ill. We had to put them in water for 4 nights to make them safe for eating. We ate them just to make the hunger go away. People who were so hungry that they couldn’t wait until the yam was purified got sick often.

Q: Was the place you were hiding in the mountains or in the plains?

A: There were no plains. It was only mountains and valleys. If the Burmese saw our footprints, they followed us so we had to hide in the bushes. They always followed our footprints to kill us. We never built houses and only prepared our beds to sleep. We could only stay a few nights in each place because when the Burmese came near we had to run to another place. We had to move from place to place so often that we can’t count how many shelters we built each year. If the Burmese saw our place we had to quickly move to another place.

Q: How did you get food if you had to live like that?

A: We made small farms but the Burmese were always looking for our footprints.

Q: What did the Burmese do when they saw people?

A: When they saw people, they beat some and killed some. They also took our rice to eat or destroy when they saw our farms. We didn’t allow the children to cry, if they did we scolded them. The children didn’t dare cry because they were afraid too. We lived like that until we couldn’t tolerate the hunger any longer and then we came here.

Q: How did you come here? Did you know anyone here?

A: I have some children and relatives here. They brought me here. My children are in xxxx.

Q: How many days did it take to come here from the jungle?

A: I think we had to sleep for 8 or 10 nights on the way but I can’t remember exactly because I’m too old.

Q: Did you carry rice on your way here?

A: If we didn’t carry any, would we have eaten? We carried a small amount of rice with us.

Q: On your way here from the jungle did you see landmines, Burmese soldiers or any other problems?

A: We didn’t come on a path so we didn’t see anything. We climbed up the mountain, pulling ourselves up using the plants. I don’t think they [the Burmese Army] knew I came, if they knew there would no chance for me to be here.

Q: Did you have a school in your place?

A: We never had a school.

Q: The people who are hiding in other places in the jungle, which villages are they near?

A: They live near xxxx [Kayah language], which is called xxxx in Shan.

Q: What is your religion?

A: We revere Dagun Dain, which is called May Lu in Kayah. Baw Mee is a festival we have once a year. We go to get tall leaves and put sticky rice in them and then cook them. We share it with other people to eat. Before we erect the ceremonial pole and celebrate the festival of Dagun Daing we kill a chicken and look at its bones. If we find that it’s good to have the festival, then we have the festival. We dance and feed the people who come.

Q: Do you want to say anything else?

A: I can’t say anything. I am too old, my eyes can’t see clearly and my ears don’t hear clearly so even if you ask me, I cannot answer. I would like to tell you what you want to know but I can’t.

Interview #3

 

NAME: Ah Lay Sho SEX: M AGE: 47 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married. 10 children but of them 2 died, 8 surviving children aged 2-23.
ADDRESS: xxxx, Than Daung township, Toungoo District, Karen State. 
DESCRIPTION: A Karen national who lived and got married in Shadaw.

 

Q: What language do Gkay Bah people speak?

 

A: We speak Gkay Bah language. A few words are similar to Karen language but most of the words are very different. Only some Gkay Bah people understand the Karen language. I don’t speak Karen. In our area, most of the people are Gkay Bah but there are also Ku Htee, Blow Htee and other people also. There are many villages is the area but I left there over 20 years ago so I don’t know much about it [now].

 

Q: Where did you go?

 

A: I went to Kayah State to work. I arrived in Loikaw on January 7, 1972. I went to work in the Pon river area for 5 months and then arrived in Shadaw during the 1972 rainy season, June or July. I was single when I went there and remained single until 1975 when I married a Kayah woman. We had 10 children together but 2 of them died so I only have 8 now. The first of the two that died, died 4 or 5 months after being born. The other one died at 4 years old. They both had fevers for two days and then died. That was in June of 1998. We took them to the Shadaw hospital, where they got 10 injections but they still died. I don’t know why they died or what illness they had.

 

Q: Were you happy in Shadaw?

 

A: We came here because we weren’t happy in Shadaw.

 

Q: Is Shadaw a town?

 

A: It’s a town but you can only see a car there once a year. There is a car road but it’s very rough. There are many shops.

 

Q: Is there an army camp in Shadaw?

 

A: There’s an army camp and a police station.

 

Q: Why don’t you like Shadaw?

 

A: We always have to do Loh Ah Pay and portering and can only do our own work 2 or 3 days a week. We have had to do Loh Ah Pay every year but it’s been getting worse in ’98 and ’99. There are many kinds of work. Sometimes the army camp writes a letter and forces us to send it for them any time they want, day or night. We have to send the letters cautiously and are very afraid when we do. Sometimes we had to go for portering, and if we couldn’t go they collected porter fees from us. Sometimes we have to carry their rations from the Pon river to Shadaw, and other times we have to carry them from Shadaw to the Dta Tha Maw army camp which is to the east of the Salween River. We had to carry things like rice, beans, salt and shells when they needed them. One person had to carry 1.5 big tins of rice; two people must carry one sack or 3 big tins. If we go by ourselves, we can go and come back on the same day, but when we went with them, we couldn’t return before they allowed us to. We had to stay many days.

 

Q: For how many days do porters have to go with them when it’s their turn?

 

A: It depends on how long they are travelling. Sometimes it takes 1½ months, other times it takes a week. You can’t really say for how long. Some people had to porter for years and years and some people died on the way. They’ve been calling people to porter in this way for a long time; since before the student uprising in Burma. They always do this but in the past it was better than it is now. Now the situation is much worse. It got worse after the [1988] uprising. They don’t only have one army troop, they have many. Their troops come one after another.

 

Q: What is the battalion and division number of the troops in Shadaw camp?

 

A: I don’t know the division number, but the troops who were in Shadaw camp just before I left were LIB 531. They came and stayed on this border and then went back to move in the area of Shadaw for 2 weeks and then they settled in Shadaw. There is one battalion in the camp and 2 battalions moving around. I can’t remember [the number of the other 2 battalions] because they came and went all the time.

 

Q: What kind of labour do you have to do there?

 

A: Clearing the grass and bushes beside the road, digging mud, pounding rock, carrying rock and cutting trees and bamboo to build the fence around their army camp. Each family must cut 20 or 30 poles. They force us to cut trees and bamboo once every 2 or 3 months. If we don’t go for Loh Ah Pay, they fine us at least 100 Kyats per day.

 

Q: Did you ever have to go portering?

 

A: I had to go often. I had to carry medicine boxes and other things from the Pon river to Shadaw. The Pon river is only 12 miles from Shadaw, so you can go and come back in the same day. However, if you go with the soldiers you have to sleep on the way. I can’t say how many days [it takes for each trip], because you must sleep wherever they want to sleep. Sometimes I had to carry rations such as rice, milk, sugar and salt all in one pack. Each pack is enough for one soldier for one month. I only had to carry one pack, but if there are only a few porters one porter must carry 2 or 3 packs. About 4 years ago, in December, they came and called me from my house and forced me to go with them. I had to go with Battalion 102 from Dee Maw So, Pruso area for 8 days and 9 nights. They came and settled in Shadaw for a while and called me to go to Daw So Kyar and Daw He So. I went to every village on that side. That was before the forced relocation to Shadaw.

 

Q: Did you ever have to go portering in 1998?

 

A: I never went portering in 1998. As I told you before, I had to do Loh Ah Pay at least once a week. Every Saturday we had to clear [bushes and plants] around the village.

 

Q: Do they give you food while you are doing Loh Ah Pay?

 

A: They never give you food. We have to pack our own rice and take it with us. Working in town is not so bad, they don’t scold or beat people. People who go for portering are scolded and beaten.

 

Q: Is there a school in Shadaw?

 

A: There is a school. In ’98 and ’99 they increased the number of standards available to 10. My children go to school but if the situation isn’t good, the students have to run here and there. All of my children went to school when they were small but some of them are married now.

 

Q: Is there a hospital in Shadaw?

 

A: There is a hospital but the doctors only come from Rangoon once every 2 or 3 months. The doctor’s duty is to be in Shadaw but when they come they live in Loikaw. They come and show their faces [in Shadaw] once every 2 or 3 months and then return [to Rangoon] after they finish their 2 year responsibility. Then another doctor comes. There are nurses in the hospital. If an emergency patient comes, they are ordered to go to the hospital in Loikaw. The patient must hire people to carry them to Loikaw because there is no bus, car or motorbike in Shadaw. If you can’t give people money to carry you they won’t carry you.

 

Q: Is there any food in Shadaw?

 

A: There is food but we don’t even have enough money to buy one big tin of rice. It is difficult to earn money and when people from many other villages are forced to relocate there it even becomes more difficult. The Burmese sell us rice at 1,200 Kyats for one big tin. If [we get] rice from the Shan or here[Thailand], one big tin costs 1,300 or 1,400 Kyats.

 

Q: Were there many people from other villages forced to relocate [to Shadaw]?

 

A: When they first came there were about 700 or 800 houses, but later they all disappeared. Some of them came here [Thailand] and some went to Loikaw. People who had buffaloes, cattle and money went to Loikaw while people who had nothing came here.

 

Q: When living in Shadaw, do you need to get a pass to go to other villages?

 

A: You have to get a pass. However, there is no village to go to because all villages were destroyed. Before, we didn’t have to pay money for the passes but now people have to pay 10 or 15 Kyats for a pass. I never went to the forest so I don’t know the exact price. When I went to Loikaw, I had to pay 5 Kyats for a pass but just before I came here I had to pay 10 Kyats. There is a market area 3 miles away from Shadaw which you can go to. If you go farther than 3 miles from Shadaw, the Burmese soldiers may shoot and kill you or capture you to porter for them even if you have a pass.

 

Q: Did any Shan people go to live in Shadaw?

 

A: There are some Shan people also but there aren’t as many Shan as there are Kayah.

 

Q: What date did you arrive here?

 

A: January 30, 1999. I came here with friends who had been here before for business reasons. I didn’t know about this refugee camp because I had never been here before. I can’t remember the names of all those who arrived here when we did. If I could tell you them all you would need 2 or 3 sheets of paper to write them all down. I am the only Gkay Bah to come here, one Shan family with 2 people also came and all the rest are Kayah.

 

Q: When you came here how many families came with you?

 

A: One other family came out with us. His name is U T---, his wife’s name is P--- and they have 5 children. They went to live in xxxx which is just at the foot of this hill. I hid in xxxx, east of Shadaw, for 9 days. There are no villages around there because they have all been destroyed. We avoided the old villages and went through the forest. We came out because we couldn’t tolerate it anymore. We were forced to work until we couldn’t work on our own farms anymore, both this year and last year. In ’97-’98 it was better than in ’98-’99, when we could not even harvest one basket of paddy. We didn’t have food and we didn’t have time to go out and find food because of the work we were forced to do. Our lives were getting very hard. Finally, we decided to go out and hide in the forest regardless of what would happen to us. When we got to the forest we met many people who were talking about coming here so we came with them.

 

Q: How did you get food?

 

A: We took one big tin of rice with us when we left. While we were coming [to the border with Thailand] we also borrowed rice from people on the way. There were about 20 families already near the Salween River, but they were very far from any villages. They were also from Shadaw relocation site. When we arrived there were about 172 or 173 people there including us and them. They came from many different villages; 3, 4 or 5 different villages. Some were from Daw So Sah, Daw Wi Ku, Daw Soe Hset, Daw Tama and Daw Bo Loh. They had been forced to go to Shadaw also but went to hide in the jungle because life in Shadaw was so hard for them.

 

Q: If the Burmese soldiers new that you were leaving Shadaw to come here, would they have allowed you to come?

 

A: If they knew, there would have been no chance for us to come here.

 

Q: Were there any landmines on your way to the border?

 

A: We don’t know about landmines on the border here or there because we didn’t dare come here by the path. We came secretly through the jungle.

 

Q: Is the way open for people there to come here?

 

A: We don’t know if the way is open or not. Just before we left, we heard them saying they’re going to build a road. I’m not sure which road they are going to build. It could be from Dta Tha Maw to this border or a Shadaw-Pon river road, I don’t know exactly. They have engineers and bulldozers but surely they are going to call villagers to help them. They can’t do anything without villagers.

 

Q: Can you tell me why you needed to come here?

 

A: As I said to you before; we had to come here because we couldn’t tolerate the effects of the SPDC anymore.

 

Interview #4

NAME: "Doh Reh" SEX: M AGE: 53 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married. 6 children aged 5-20.
ADDRESS: Thirida (villages 19 & 20). 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate and went to Shadaw relocation site.

Q: Have you lived in Thirida since you were a child?

A: Yes, I lived there when I was a child. However, I spent some time growing up in Loikaw and went to school there until grade 6. When I was young, my father let me stay at his Karen friend’s house in Loikaw so I could study in school. My father is old now, over 70, and staying with my sister in Shadaw. My sister is 30 years old. My mother is dead. After that I drove a truck delivering goods for a Karen person in Loikaw. I’ve been up to Kyine Don in Shan State and down to Pa Thein, Rangoon and Yay Dwin Yay Gang. I got married in Thirida and was living there in 1998. There were about 100 houses in Thirida but now there are no villagers there. When the Burmese implemented their Four Cuts policy in 1996 they forced us all to leave, so we no longer have homes. [Four Cuts is the SPDC policy of undermining the resistance by controlling and impoverishing the civilian population.]

Q: Where did they force the villagers from Thirida to go?

A: They [the Burmese soldiers] gave an order to the village headman and he told us. Villagers went to where their relatives were. Most people went to live in Nwa La Bo which is near [north of] Loikaw. Some people also went to stay in Daw Dta Hay. Only 2 or 3 people, including myself, went to live in Shadaw. In the beginning there were 600 or 700 houses in Shadaw but later they disappeared. They left because they couldn’t or didn’t like to live there any longer.

Q: Did some people go to hide in the jungle?

A: At first, some people went to stay in the jungle but they later went to live in Shan State. They lived in different places where they had relatives. I know of about 10 families from our village who went there and they stayed in xxxxxxxx and xxxx villages. Some villagers who went to live in Shadaw still had rice in their old villages but people who were living in the jungle and didn’t go to Shadaw took that rice because they had nothing to eat. Also, the Burmese burned any rice they found in the old villages. The Burmese killed the villagers’ buffaloes and cattle that had been left behind in the old villages. Before we went to Shadaw we hid some rice in the jungle and later returned to get it to eat, but we finished all that. It was hard to keep on living.

Q: How long did you live in Shadaw?

A: I lived there for more than 2 years. While I was there, I worked for the SPDC in a low position pertaining to health and sanitation. Most of the time I was working on a small farm that didn’t belong to me. I had to rent it from other people. When we first moved there, the government spoke to us nicely. They gave us land to build a house on and I was able to build a house as big as this one [approximately 15 square meters]. At first, they also gave us some rice, one bowl of rice for each person for one month. There were 9 people in my family but they gave us 1.5 big tins [per month; about 24 kg / 53 lb] of rice. They gave us rice for 3 months, as they did everyone, and then they never gave us any again. Those who went to Shadaw because they had no rice have to dig up a tuber called elephant foot yam [Wa U]. They have to be thinly sliced, dried in the sun and then soaked in water for three days before they can be cooked with rice. If they aren’t put in water they can make you sick. We mix one tin of rice and one tin of elephant foot yam and cook them together. It doesn’t taste too bad but it doesn’t give us any strength either. We use them so we can have more food to eat. People in Shadaw town also eat them because they don’t have enough rice.

Q: Did you and your family have to do Loh Ah Pay?

A: To live there we had to do Loh Ah Pay. We had to do Loh Ah Pay 4 or 5 times a week. Their mouths said, "We give you land to do your own plantations so do it." That’s what the SPDC government said, but the SPDC Army forced us to work for them. Some people have to pound stones, cut bamboo and fence the army camp, carry big logs from the forest to the sawmills in order to build floors, and clean in and around the hospital, school, offices and monastery for when the officials came. They forced us to clean because the officials were coming but they didn’t come. Then it happened again, and still the officials didn’t come. One month passed and they still didn’t come. So we thought, "Ah! They’re just forcing us to clean to prevent us from finding time to work for ourselves. They force us to do it just to disturb us because they don’t want us to have enough time to work and produce food for ourselves." We talked about this and thought that the Burmese were just giving us busy work to waste our time.

In the first two years [’96 and ’97] I could still work and produce food but in ’98 the army came and called me time after time to be a guide or interpreter for them. Working for them all the time I had no time to work to feed my family. They provided food for me but they didn’t feed my family, so they had nothing to eat. Before I went into hiding I told them that my family had no food to eat, but they told me, "They have food to eat." I went and hid outside the village in the forest because my family had no food. While I was in the forest I saw people going to their farms and my friend came to visit me sometimes. I had to take rice with me. They came looking for me at my house a few times but I wasn’t home, so the commander, Soe Htun, gave my wife a bullet. That was on October 15th 1998, but I’m not totally sure of the date. My wife and children wept and didn’t want to stay there any longer. Soe Htun is from Division 55, Battalion 108 and they stay in Kya Saud. When I went with them [to be a guide or interpreter] I wasn’t feeling so well. I got an abscess on my back but they didn’t care.

Q: What about working on roads?

A: Loh Ah Pay is cleaning and also includes working on roads. Each month we had to work half the month, 15 days, for them. Sometimes when someone in our family was ill, it seemed as though everyone in the house was very busy. When one of us was ill, sometimes the hospital in Shadaw didn’t have enough medicine so we had to buy medicine in other places like Shadaw town or Loikaw. The doctor had to give us a piece of paper with the name of the medicine we needed to take or inject. If we didn’t have the paper we couldn’t get the medicine. To get to Loikaw we have to walk for 4 hours to the bus stop at Bpon Chaung beside the Pon River. From there we can take the bus to Loikaw. In the first year there was a full time doctor in Shadaw, but later we didn’t know where they went to live and now there’s only a medic left there. The hospital in Shadaw is a township hospital but they don’t have all the medicines.

Q: Did your wife ever have to do Loh Ah Pay?

A: She couldn’t go because she is getting old and has a lot of pain in her knees. From my family, my children and I went sometimes. Two of my sons went, one is 20 years old and the other is 18 years old. My sister, whose husband is a teacher, had to go because her husband was teaching. He is from Shadaw and has a field there. He is Kayah but is only allowed to teach Burmese. His salary is 1,000 Kyats because he is a middle school teacher.

Q: Did you have to carry things for them?

A: Sometimes I did but sometimes I didn’t. After they gave my wife the bullet, my family didn’t want to stay there anymore and I didn’t know where to go. Finally, I went to Loikaw to find a place for us to live. My friends and relatives there told me to live near them in Loikaw. I thought that if I bought a house I wouldn’t have food to eat, and if I bought food I wouldn’t have a house, so I decided that I wouldn’t go. I thought to myself that if I went to Shan State I wouldn’t know anyone there and wouldn’t know how to live and get food there. I had no options for places to go, so we took some food and headed into the jungle with no idea of where we would end up. We left Shadaw at 6:00 a.m. and walked the whole day. We arrived at the Salween River at 6:00 p.m. My family and another 3 families left together, but when we arrived at the Salween River we found many people there. We looked for people to help us cross the river because it’s a difficult river to cross. We then saw some Karenni soldiers and they showed us the way to come here. I had never been here before but some of the people among us had come here before to sell and buy things so we came with them. We slept for 4 nights on the way. We started out from Shadaw on November 28 [1998] and arrived here on December 2 [1998]. When I arrived, 130 people arrived in total.

Q: Were there any problems on the way?

A: There was a problem. My wife had pain in her legs and knees. We prayed to God to lead us on our way and when we arrived here safely we knew that it was under God’s blessing. When we were on our way, there was a woman who gave birth to her baby on the eastern side of the Salween River so she couldn’t come here. I saw her parents only, I didn’t see her husband with her. I don’t know if they had come directly from Shadaw or if they had been living in the jungle, because I had just met them, but she is still there. I gave her an injection of vitamin K which I was carrying because she was bleeding too much. She will get better for sure. We couldn’t wait for her, but I think her relatives who came and met her from Shadaw would be bringing her food from there still.

Q: Do the Burmese soldiers allow you to come to Thailand?

A: The Burmese soldiers wouldn’t have allowed us to come if they knew. We had to come out secretly during the night.

Q: When you were going around with Burmese IB 108, what villages did you go to?

A: When I was with them, we left from Shadaw and went north to Daw Mumar, Daw Klaw Leh, Thirida, Nam Aw, Daw Ka Teh, Tin Loi, Daw Law Bu, Nam Kyait Lay, Sa Laung, Tin Loi and Pah Ler villages. I spoke to them in Kayah, but Sa Laung [Thaw Raw in Kayah], Nam Kyaing Lay [Nah Gkay in Kayah] and Tin Loi [Pray Kyu Leh in Kayah] villages are Shan. We went into old villages that had no houses. Battalion 54 and others burned all the houses in ’96 and ’97.

Q: Why were they going around like that?

A: They were looking for Karenni people. Sometimes they saw them. They forced them to go to relocation sites to cut off all contact with the Karenni soldiers. However, some didn’t go to the relocation sites so they are looking for them. During ’97, if they saw people they captured them, beat them and put them in jail. Some they killed. I didn’t see that with my own eyes but people who did see it told me about it.

Q: While you were going around with them did you see any of the people they were looking for?

A: When I was with them in 1998 I didn’t see any villagers, but a battle occurred. They kept me in the middle of them during that.

Q: When you were with them, did they have any porters with them?

A: Yes, there were porters with them. They got Kayah people from Shadaw to porter for them. There were no women or old people, they were young people that they had forced the village head to give them. However, if there are no men in the family a woman must go. I saw them hit a porter who was about 40 or 50 years old but I don’t know his name. Many people who live in Shadaw know each other’s faces but don’t know each other’s names. They kicked him in the butt and scolded him in Burmese saying, "Ni May Nga Loe Lah!" [Fuck your mother]. After he was kicked he tried hard to carry things because he was afraid that the soldiers would kill him.

Q: Were there any porters who were ill and died?

A: No. I didn’t see any because there were many soldiers and many porters so I couldn’t see everyone. Sometimes I was in the middle of them and other times I was in the front or the back. When I was walking with them it was rainy season and the porters weren’t even that tired. Each person was only given one mess tin lid of rice twice a day. Sometimes they gave them beans with their rice and other times they gave them oil. It was the rainy season so we could boil bamboo shoots to eat with the rice also.

Q: How many soldiers were on each trip?

A: There were two columns when I was with them and there were two commanders. Usually there are at least 10 porters for each column, so sometimes there were over 20 porters and other times there were only 15 porters.

Q: How much did each porter have to carry?

A: Each porter carried different amounts. Some soldiers are kind so they gave their porters 10 viss [16 kg or 35 lb.] to carry but some soldiers forced their porters to carry 15 viss [24 kg or 53 lb.]. In the beginning they forced each group of porters to carry for 5 days and then rotated them. Later, because there were fewer and fewer people to become porters, they forced porters to go with them for 10 or 15 days. They took them to Shadaw town with them and released them when new porters came to replace them.

Q: For how long were you going around with them?

A: Some weeks I had to work with them for 4 days and some weeks I had to work with them for 2 days so I can’t say for how long. I had to go any time they were going into the forest and the old villages to find people. If they had called me sometimes and other people other times I think I would still have had enough energy to tolerate it and wouldn’t have come here yet. But as it was, they called me all the time, to the point where I couldn’t stay at home any longer. We were tired from working for them so hard, so we couldn’t work hard for ourselves during our few days off.

Q: Have all of your children gone to school?

A: Only 3 of my children went to the school in Shadaw but they have stopped studying now. One finished grade 7, one finished grade 4 and the other finished grade 1. My other children didn’t go to school because we don’t have enough money to send them. In the past there were only 9 grades in Shadaw School but now they have increased it to 10 grades. Only people who have lived in Shadaw for a long time can keep their children in school. People who come to the relocation site from other villages can’t keep their children in school.

Q: Is it expensive to study?

A: It’s not expensive to study but you must pay a fee to attend school, a fee for sports, a fee for parents and many other fees that I don’t know about. In the beginning I had to give 400 to 500 [Kyats] for young children and 600 to 700 [Kyats] for bigger children. When we came to Shadaw relocation site, the school didn’t have enough materials, such as chairs, tables and benches, so they asked the parents of the students to give them money to buy them. We had to give money for those things.

Q: Do your children who are still living in Shadaw live with your father or live on their own?

A: Two of my children there are married and live with their own families. They work on a field and a farm. The younger one is single and lives with my sister. My sister has 4 children. The eldest one is 12 years old and the youngest is 1 year old.

Q: You said that you are a health worker. Are you a medical or sanitation worker?

A: I am a cleaner. I didn’t have enough time to do my cleaning work [because of working as an interpreter or guide for the SPDC soldiers]. I got a salary every month, 850 Kyats, but it wasn’t enough to buy even one big tin of rice which costs 1,500 Kyats.

Q: Do you want to say anything else?

A: I would like to say that in the future, if the situation changes to a good one, we want to go back.

Interview #5

NAME: "Lu Mya" SEX: F AGE: 30 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married. 4 children aged 7 months - 9 years.
ADDRESS: Shadaw town. 
DESCRIPTION: Born and raised in Shadaw. Niece of "Doh Reh" (Interview 4).

Q: Where did you live as a child?

A: I lived in Shadaw with my parents. I was born there. I went to school there and finished grade 8. Later, while I was in Shadaw relocation site, I worked doing odd jobs around the school. I cleaned the school, fetched water to fill the school basin and tins and also substituted when teachers didn’t come. I worked 4 days a week and had to arrive at school at 8:30 a.m. to clean up and look after the children who arrived before school started at 9:00 a.m. While the teacher was teaching, I had to look after the children and see that they weren’t running around and playing when it was time to learn. I would go home at 12:00 p.m. and return again at 1:00 p.m. and then work until 3:00 p.m., when school was over.

Q: What was your salary?

A: I was given 750 Kyats [per month] but they deducted many fees and taxes so each month I only received 200 or 300 Kyats. They deducted the cost of rice, 260[Kyats per month], donations for social occasions, fees for sports, the price for post cards and they also said they borrowed money from us. They deducted the cost of 1 big tin and 6 bowls of rice from our salaries but they never gave us that much. They simply told us that the weather wasn’t good so the rice yield was bad. They also said that our rice had come through many people and they had to give some to this person and that person so we lost our rice because of them. Sometimes our rice disappeared for no reason.

Q: Was your salary reduced in this way also [asking "Doh Reh"]?

"Doh Reh": It was the same as she described. Each month, all I had left was 200, 300, 400 or 500 Kyats at the most. The school headmaster stole her rice and salary. He didn’t give her all her rice and salary and lied to her saying he didn’t know what happened to them and that they only had this amount. They [the employees] couldn’t do anything but suffer quietly.

Q: Did you get enough rice each year from your husband working on the farm?

Husband: When I was in my own village on the hill, my work on the farm was going well but since I moved to Shadaw it hasn’t been going so well. I don’t get enough food from my fields each year.

Q: When did you get married?

A: 10 years ago in Shadaw. He came and married me in ’88 and then went back to live in his Kayah hill village again. The name of the village is Daw Klaw Leh and it’s near Thirida. There were 25 houses in the village. My duty was to teach in his village so I went and taught there from 1988 until the time of the forced relocation. During the relocation some people from Daw Klaw Leh went to Nwa La Bo relocation site, some went to Loikaw, 6 families went to Shadaw and some people disappeared and we don’t know where they went. We came back to live in Shadaw during the year of the forced relocation.

Q: When were you forced to relocate to Shadaw?

A: From June 1 to 7, 1996. They sent a letter ordering us to relocate and we were given 7 days to move. When we relocated to Shadaw I worked in the school doing odd jobs and my husband went to work out on the farm.

"Doh Reh": He hired himself out to work on other people’s fields also. He also hired himself out for carrying goods from the Pon River to Shadaw. The car only runs from Loikaw to the Pon River so merchants need people to carry their goods [the rest of the way]. People who do day labour to get money to buy food go and carry goods there to get money. They pay 30 Kyats per viss [1.6 kg or 3.5 lb.] and people like us can carry 10 viss each time. They only have that kind of work sometimes, and there are more people than there is work.

Q: Did you have to do Loh Ah Pay?

A: Yes. Because I am an education worker, I had to go when they forced education workers to go and do Loh Ah Pay. When they forced local people to go and do Loh Ah Pay, I had to go because I was living in that section. When they forced people from hill villages to go, I had to go then also because I relocated from a hill village to the relocation site. My family had to do Loh Ah Pay more than other people. My husband went when they required those who had been relocated and I went when they required the education workers. I had to clean the area around the school, the hospital and the monastery and I had to clear the area of land which they kept for the people living in the hill villages who they had forced to come live in Shadaw and work a plantation. They gave them 2 acres per family and everyone in Shadaw, locals and new people, had to clear the land. On that land they sowed beans and sesame. Some areas are good for plantations but other areas are no good because the soil isn’t good for growing anything.

Q: Did you [addressing her husband] have to go for portering when you were living in Shadaw?

Husband: They forced me to go 2 or 3 times each month and each trip was for one or two weeks. Even though I had to work for my family they never passed me over, they always forced me to go with them. I had to carry a military bag. They fed us twice a day with rice and a little bit of fried fishpaste but it was only a little bit. I don’t know the division of the soldiers I portered for, but I heard them saying 429 very often.

Q: Can you tell me why you are in this refugee camp?

A: My children’s father [her husband] couldn’t stay in the village anymore and if we didn’t follow him here we would have been in trouble in Shadaw. He was often forced to work for the army doing portering, guiding and other work. That caused problems for our family situation.

Q: How many times did you [addressing her husband] have to go for portering in 1998?

Husband: I can’t really count how many times I had to work for them each month. Sometimes the soldiers forced me to guide for them for one or two weeks but when I came back home, they forced me to go and do Loh Ah Pay. There was no time for me to work for our food. When I was portering, I had to carry shells. I don’t know what kind of shells they were but there were 12 of them and each of them was as big as a banana flower [likely to be 60 mm mortar shells]. They weighed about 15 viss [24 kg or 54 lb.]. I carried them to above Tin Loi [Pray Kyu Leh in Kayah] but I don’t know the name of the villages.

Q: When you were portering, did you see any porters get beaten?

Husband: I saw many porters who were beaten. If you weren’t strong enough you had to suffer that. They beat me and kicked my buttocks several times to make me afraid. I had to work hard not to be beaten. They also scolded me often. They said things such as Nga Lee Lah Chay Daut Neh Gan Meh! [You prick, I will kick you with my foot!] and Pay Loe May Loe! [Father fucker, mother fucker!]. The soldiers also threatened to shoot the porters with their guns.

Q: When you were portering did you see any ill porters?

Husband: There were some ill porters. On my way back I saw 2 or 3 ill porters.

Q: Was there any shooting between the Karenni soldiers and the SPDC soldiers?

Husband: During harvest time, they were shooting each other in the highlands on the border between Shan and Karenni states at Lay Pay Sho mountain. Some people died but I didn’t see that, I only heard soldiers talking about it. Lay Pay Sho mountain is above Daw Tanaw and below Daw Eida villages. It is close to Daw Naw Klu. That’s a place where the Kayah people go to perform traditional events each year. That was the only battle I saw.

Q: After that time portering, did you come straight here?

Husband: No, I went back to Shadaw. That was my last time portering. After that, I was afraid because they called me to porter often so didn’t stay in the village any longer. I went and hid in the forest around Shadaw. While I was in the forest, I secretly returned to Shadaw to get food. They didn’t see me. While I was hiding the soldiers came to my house looking for me often.

Q: How many times did the soldiers come to your home to find him and how did they find him?

A: Soldiers and intelligence officers came with the village headman to get my husband. They called me and said, "Where is your husband?" He asked me that and then said, "Go get him." I told them that my husband was on the farm and then I asked my younger brother to go and call him to return and he did. They threatened my husband but they didn’t threaten me. When he came back, he was sent to the intelligence office. They came and asked for my husband like that many times so my heart got a chill. I was afraid that they would suddenly make trouble for us so we secretly left the village.

Q: When you arrived at the intelligence office, what did they do?

Husband: They just told me, "We are informing you that you are requested for porter duty." I didn’t go and instead ran and hid. They came looking for me and sent me to the intelligence office again and again ordered me to go. They scolded me but didn’t beat me and asked, "Who told you to run like this?" I told him that I ran because I was afraid as a result of seeing a battle when I was portering the other time. Each time I was in the intelligence office, I was there for only a few hours. They released me after they asked me some questions. After the second time, I ran away from the village with my family. We left the village on November 29th [1998] and stayed in the forest in the valley near the xxxx River for a whole month. There were 4 or 5 families, about 40 or 50 people, living together with us. When we were going to leave to come here, many other people arrived there from the area around Shadaw, about a hundred in total.

Q: How were you getting food while you were in the jungle for that month?

Husband: We secretly went back to Shadaw and took rice from there. We saw some papaya trees that had fruit so we ate them. They may have belonged to people who lived there before. There was a spring at our hiding place. There wasn’t a lot of water but it was regular.

Q: While you were in the jungle for that month, did any people get ill?

Husband: There were ill people. My middle daughter got chicken pox and almost died.

A: Many children got the chicken pox. We had no medicine so they suffered from that for 2 weeks. They are better now. A woman’s eldest child, a son, died of chicken pox in the jungle and now she has only one child. She has no husband. That family came to the jungle from Shadaw and arrived in the valley after we did. The old people had aches and pains in their legs and also had fevers with coughing.

Q: While you were in the jungle for a month, could you build houses?

A: We couldn’t build houses, we had to stay on the ground. We cut leaves to lay down as a floor to sleep on and made a roof with some tarpaulin. It didn’t rain but it was very cold. We could only light a very small fire to warm ourselves because we were afraid that the fire would show the soldiers where we were. The fire could only be the burning embers. I had 4 children who were not well so they cried sometimes. Any time the soldiers who were chasing us headed in our direction, I suffered in my heart a great deal because my children didn’t know to be afraid. Back when we were living in our hill village we had to run too, but the children only learned to be afraid of battle, they never learned to be afraid while we’re fleeing. As parents we worried about them a lot. We were always worried about the next time we would have to run. Sometimes I couldn’t eat because of the anxiety. When it was time to eat, I could only eat one or two mouthfuls of rice and then I didn’t feel like eating anymore. There were many troubles and a lot of suffering. When we first left to come to the refugee camp, the SPDC army tried to chase us and a battle occurred. I heard the sounds of the weapons and was too afraid to run anywhere. I hid in many different places in the area and the children were very noisy because they didn’t understand the army troops would come to kill us. We had to worry about them so it was difficult for me to eat and sleep. We could see the houses burning in the old village, xxxx. Where we were hiding was very close to where the SPDC soldiers were.

Q: Who told you how to came here when you were in the jungle?

Husband: In the past I had come here to sell things so I knew how to come. We had to climb up and down hills to get here and we always stayed a little way from the path. We saw soldiers and an army camp on the top of the hill so we covered the mouths of the children when they were crying. We were worried the soldiers would hear them. We finally arrived in here on January 5th [1999]. 140 people arrived together and most of them are Kayah but a few of them are Shan.

A: The journey to come here was very difficult. We had to carry our children along the way so our shoulders were very sore. We climbed the mountains until we were out of breath and tired. Their rule for us was that we couldn’t go farther than 5 miles from Shadaw relocation site. If we went further, they would shoot us. We didn’t dare travel during the day because we were afraid of the soldiers so we only travelled during the dark night along a small stream. We couldn’t see anything so we had to hold on to each other along the way. While I was carrying my child I thought I was going to step in a puddle, but it was a hole and I fell down hurting my knee, shin, hand and leg on the stones and wood. I still have a mark from that. The path we came on was difficult to travel with our children, it had bushes with thorns and grass that was very sharp.

Interview #6

NAME: "Mi Su" SEX: F AGE: xx INTERVIEWED: 3/99. 
FAMILY: Married twice. 7 children but 3 died. 4 surviving children aged 7 months - 10 years. 
ADDRESS: Kla Leh (7 yrs.) but moved to Thirida (11 yrs.) 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate and went to Daw Dta Hay.

Q: How many children do you have?

A: I was married twice and had a total of 7 children. However, some of them died. One died while we were living in Kla Leh due to a cough. At the time there were about 10 houses in Kla Leh but there was no medicine. There were many children who had the same cough; another child died because of a cold. Two of my other children died in Thirida in 1995, before we relocated. My son died from diarrhoea and my daughter died from hunger. She was two months old and I had no milk so she had no food to eat. My daughter died one month after my son.

Q: What were you doing when you were in Thirida?

A: We went to the forest to find vegetables and worked on our farm to get rice. There was enough rice, but no extra, except for the year I divorced my first husband. That year we didn’t have enough rice to eat.

Q: Why did you go to Daw Dta Hay?

A: The Burmese forced us to leave our village, so we had to go. They didn’t tell us we had to go to Daw Dta Hay but they told us that we couldn’t live in our village anymore. We’re afraid of them so we didn’t dare go on living in our village. I was living in Daw Dta Hay for 3 years.

Q: How did you work for food when you were living in Daw Dta Hay?

A: There wasn’t enough land for us to work a farm so we rented someone else’s field. The first year that we were in Daw Dta Hay, we hired ourselves out to work on other peoples’ fields and bought rice to eat with the money we earned. The following year, we worked on our own farm. Fortunately I had land with good soil so my farm yields were good. What I couldn’t tolerate was the forced labour.

Q: Who forced you to work?

A: The Burmese forced us. They forced us to carry stones that were to be used for making a road between the soldiers’ area near Daw Wah Kaing and a place beside Daw Dta Hay. They forced us to go in groups of 10 or 20. People from all the villages near ours had to go. They demanded a man from each family go but if there was no man, a woman had to go. Children and old people had to go also. If the old people couldn’t go, they had to pay a fee. We carried the stones to a vehicle that was pulling a cart and then we had to carry the stones from the cart to the road. The stones were very big and heavy so I had a lot of pain in my body. It was easier for us to take the rocks off the cart because we could just push them off; lifting them on to the cart was very difficult. They didn’t give us time to rest and if we took a rest they would yell at us and beat us. They only gave us time to eat once a day, at noon time. They never gave us rice, we had to bring our own. We were only permitted a moment to drink water which we either brought from home or found in a stream on the way. When we were finished having a drink we had to continue working right away. We had to work very hard. They forced us to work very often, sometimes 2 or 3 times in one month. The called us at 6:00 a.m. and we had to walk a long way to the work area. They let us off work at 4:00 p.m.. They also force us to do other work. They forced us to fetch water from the plains and take it up to their army camp which was at the top of a hill, but my family didn’t have to do that because we did village crier duty.

Q: What does your husband do?

A: He is a village crier. He would go around the village telling the villagers information and news. If the village headman isn’t free for any reason, the village crier has to act as the village headman. There was a time when my husband was going to cut bamboo in the forest and the Burmese sent an order to our house demanding that my husband go to their camp as soon as he received the order. The message came many times before my husband returned from cutting bamboo. He didn’t go right away because he was tired from cutting bamboo and wanted to take a rest for a while before he went. The final messenger came and told my husband that the Burmese were getting very angry and that they would hit and kick him when he arrived. The Burmese soldier told him to go as soon as he got home. He was afraid when he heard that but went to them anyway and spoke very nice and meekly. The power of God went along with him so the Burmese didn’t do as they said they would. They didn’t beat or kick him. On a different occasion my husband went for a meeting that the Burmese soldiers were holding. There was another village crier there who came as a representative for his village headman. He became very sleepy because the Burmese were talking for so long. There were 2 or 3 people from each village at the meeting to listen to what the Burmese had to say. When the Burmese saw the sleepy man, they said to him, "We called you here to listen to us but you weren’t listening to us and instead were sleeping so you can sleep here!" He was then put in the stocks.

Q: Did you have to do Loh Ah Pay even though your husband was a village crier?

A: In Daw Dta Hay, the village headman and village crier didn’t have to give donations when the villagers had to, so we had to do Loh Ah Pay. The Burmese demanded the villagers give them a rooster, a bottle of alcohol or a pig but never paid for them. If it was mine, the villagers would each donate 5 Kyats to reimburse me for the cost of the rooster or whatever they wanted. We did Loh Ah Pay to satisfy the villagers [because if they were exempted the villagers would feel it was unfair].

Q: Is the road you were working on finished or are people still working on it?

A: The part that we were working on is finished but they are still working on other parts. Each village had to do part of the road. Our village had to do 2 chains [44 yards]. We left, even though we had finished our section, because we had no food and if we had stayed they would have forced us to work for them again.

Q: Why didn’t you have food?

A: Because we couldn’t work to produce food. Even though the rains were less, if we didn’t have to do forced labour we could have worked and produced enough food for us to live. We also had to give them 50 Kyats per week to work on their farms [plots of land allocated by the Army] where we could stay with our families. If the Burmese needed us while we were farming, they told the village headman and he told us we had to come back. The money for the farm was already paid and we didn’t get it back. We lost those days [of farming which they had paid for].

Q: While you were forced to work, did you see anyone who was beaten?

A: They beat us if we stopped working to take a rest. I was never beaten but they scolded and yelled at me. They said, "Keep on working! Then you can ask us to let you go back!" They scolded us in Burmese, telling us what careless workers we were. I understood what they said but I don’t want to say the things they said, I don’t like to speak that way.

Q: While you were working on the road, was anybody ill?

A: There were some ill people but they weren’t that sick. People mostly suffered from fatigue because we had to work all day every day. If we asked for medicine to give us strength [the villagers have little concept of medicine and see it as something which can do miracles], they would give us enough for two days. If we didn’t ask, they wouldn’t give us anything.

Q: When your youngest child was very young, what did you do with him when you were forced to work?

A: During the early part of my pregnancy I still went for forced labour. When my baby was very young I didn’t go for forced labour. I hired people to go for me. The cost of hiring someone was 300 or 350 Kyats depending on what the work was.

Q: Did they call villagers and force them to go for an army training course?

A: They didn’t call people from our village. The children who were to be in the training course came from town. Those children told us, "We didn’t know that they would bring us here. They called us and told us that we had to go for a training course but they took us here." Some of the children were Karen, some were Burmese and some were Shan. We don’t know which villages they came from. None of the children were Kayah. I would guess that the children were around 13 years old. Each group to be trained consisted of 20 children and they trained them group after group. When the Burmese held the opening for the training course, they killed a cow to eat and invited the village headmen and village criers to go eat with them. When they were finished the training, they sent them to Loikaw but I don’t know where they went after that.

Q: Which way did you come here?

A: We came on the car road and it took us half a month to get here. The Burmese didn’t see us, and if they had they wouldn’t have allowed us to come. We came out secretly during the night and brought rice with us to eat. When we finished our rice, our friends gave us some. We left Daw Dta Hay and went to Shan State, where we stayed two nights in xxxx, a Pa’O village, where we had some relatives. From there we went to xxxx [Kayah name], Shan State, where we stayed for 3 days. We continued on to xxxx, Shan State, and then went to Khoh Loh Kloh [Salween River] which took a whole day. We saw many people we didn’t know at the river. We slept beside the Salween for a night and then crossed it and followed people who knew the way to come here. We couldn’t come through Kayah State so we had to come through Shan State. We had never come here before so we didn’t know all the places that we passed. We left our village with another family, B---’s, my younger brother’s family. He lives beside the clinic in section x [in the refugee camp] and has 2 children. While we were coming, his children were not well and my youngest child almost died from a fever and diarrhoea that he had for 7 days. I don’t know the date that we arrived here because I was too concerned about my children to take note of it. I was so worried about my child who was ill that I couldn’t eat.

"Doh Reh": I don’t know when she arrived because before they entered the camp, some foreigners with a car [an NGO vehicle] saw them and took her and her youngest child to the town [Mae Hong Son] hospital. Her other children and her husband then entered the camp. When they arrived, they arrived with about 400 people. Her and her youngest child had to stay in the hospital for a whole month and arrived here in the last week of January.

Q: Where did they see you?

A: They saw us at a village but I don’t know which village. It was only us in the car. When I was taken to the hospital [in Thailand] the nurse, whom other people were calling Doctor, scolded me. She said, "Why didn’t you come earlier? The child is too ill." I told them that I was living very far away and couldn’t come any earlier. We couldn’t understand each other. It was very difficult for me.

Interview #7

NAME: "Say Mya" SEX: F AGE: 21 INTERVIEWED: 3/99. 
FAMILY: Single
ADDRESS: Thirida. Went to school in Haw Gka Tah. 
DESCRIPTION: Christian. Forced to relocate to Nwa La Bo in 1996.

Q: Did your mother come here with you?

A: My mother is very old, over 60 years old. She couldn’t come so she stayed behind with my sister in xxxx. I don’t have a father. I have 5 siblings who are all older than I am, I am the youngest. We came here with 4 other families. The total number of people we came together with is over 20.

Q: Did the soldiers know you were coming here?

A: They didn’t know. We moved during the night, we didn’t dare come during the day.

Q: Where did you go to school?

A: We were living in Thirida but I studied in Haw Gka Ta school and only finished grade 4. Haw Gka Tah is in the western part of the state while Thirida is in the east, they are very far apart. I lived in Thirida from when I was very young until I was 6 years old. I then went to study with a Karen teacher who came to our village and took pity on us because we didn’t know the Karen or Burmese languages. She took us to her village and taught us the languages and sent us to school. I was there for 3 years and then I returned to Thirida to live. We were then forced to relocate to Nwa La Bo and stayed there for 3 years.

Q: Why did you go to live in Nwa La Bo?

A: The Burmese forced us to go there in 1996. I was 18 years old at the time. Nwa La Bo was never a village, it is only a relocation site. They sent a letter to the village headman demanding that we leave. They said, "You are not allowed to stay here anymore. All you Kayah people must go." I don’t know how many villages they forced to go there. There were over 1,000 houses in Thirida [her brother-in-law later points out that this is not the case and in fact there were only about 100 houses in Thirida] but not all of those people went to Nwa La Bo. About 25 families went to Nwa La Bo, some went to find their relatives in Daw Dta Hay and some went to Shadaw.

Q: Did they feed you when you relocated to Nwa La Bo?

A: They gave us 2 bowls [about 4 kg / 8.8 lb] of rice per person per month for the first 3 months. They only gave us rice, nothing else. However, later, they didn’t give us any so we had no food to eat. At that time, it was only my mother, myself and my elder sister who was still single.

Q: How did you get food while you were there?

A: They didn’t allow us to leave so we couldn’t go to our old village, which was too far away anyway. We couldn’t even rent a field. We had to stay in the house and if they had given us food we could have eaten it but they didn’t give us anything after the first 3 months. When we finished the rice they gave us, we sold what we had to buy more food to eat. However, now we have nothing. We couldn’t do anything so we didn’t want to stay there any longer. We came here because we needed to get out of there.

Q: Did you have to work for the Army?

A: Battalion 250 forced us to plant seedlings in a monastery garden on a hill. It could have been rubber but I don’t know. Their army camp is just below our village, Nwa La Bo, on the plain. One person from each house had to go every day of every week. They never gave us anything to eat while we were working, we had to bring food from home. If we didn’t have food at home, we didn’t eat. They didn’t pay us for working for them either. They also forced us to carry stones to build a road from beside the village to Peh Kong [the Burmese name; it is Pleh Kue in Kayah]. I think the road will go up to Yan Gong but I’m not sure because I didn’t go there. We went to work on the road at 8:00 a.m., sometimes 9:00 a.m., and then returned in the evening at 4:00 p.m.. We had to take our own food, they didn’t give us any, and we were only given 10 minutes to eat lunch. We had to work very quickly.

Q: When you were working on the road, did you see the soldiers beat anyone?

A: If you don’t work hard and do your best, they beat you. I saw them beat my friends. I don’t know their names, we didn’t know each other very well. They were from other villages and had come to live with us when we were all forced to relocate. The soldiers said to them, "Do it nicely." My friends said, "We have never done it before so how can we do it nicely?" Then he beat them. My friends were women about the same size as I am. He beat them with a stick wider than my big toe. He hit them too many times for me to count. Some of them were crying.

Q: When you were in Nwa La Bo, did you have to carry things for the soldiers?

A: No. Men went to do that but I couldn’t go so I had to go and do Loh Ah Pay. My brother-in-law had to carry things for them but I can’t remember how many times.

Q: How many houses were there in Nwa La Bo in 1996, when you relocated there?

A: There were over 80 houses, including our village and other villages who relocated there. Now I don’t know how many houses there are because I didn’t count. Quite a few people have left Nwa La Bo.

Q: Is there a school in Nwa La Bo?

A: No. The children cannot study. If we wanted to study we had to go stay with our relatives in other villages such as Tay Tama [a.k.a. Htee Gkeh] which is quite a long way from Nwa La Bo. Tay Tama is beside Loikaw.

Q: Is there a hospital in Nwa La Bo?

A: No. If we were ill we had to go to Loikaw. There was a problem in going there. There were patrols in the area and they would interrogate us so we were afraid of them.

Q: Which way did you come here?

A: I came through the forest and didn’t know the way. My elder siblings used to walk in the forest so I came with them. It took us 8 days to come here and we brought rice to eat from our village but it was only enough for 7 days, so one day we had no rice and ate nothing. There were no villages on the way so we couldn’t find food. We were tired but we kept on trying to come because we wanted to arrive. We arrived here on January 16th [1999] with about 30 other people and have been here for about 2 months.

Q: When you were coming here, did you see Kayah people in the jungle?

A: We saw many people on the way. I saw a grandmother beside Nwa La Bo who couldn’t walk and had to have people carry her. When she was able to walk a little, another woman couldn’t walk and had to be carried. There were many women who came who had to be carried because of illness or fatigue.

Q: Do you want to say anything else?

A: When we were in Nwa La Bo we had no food to eat and were deeply worried, but we can’t describe that. People who are clever can describe that to other people but people like us aren’t so clever so we can’t. I would really like to study but I think I am too old to go to school and my mother can’t afford to pay for it. My mother told me that I couldn’t go to school because she can’t send me. I cried. I would really like to go to school but we have no money. No one in my family can go to school. I had to stop going to school to do forced labour.

Q: Do you want to go back to your village again?

A: I don’t want to go back because the situation is not good. I will go back to Thirida if there is peace in Burma. There are no longer any houses in Thirida because they have all been burned. I have only been here a short time, so I don’t know if I like it here yet.

Interview #8

NAME: "Baw Reh" SEX: M AGE: "27 or 28" INTERVIEWED: 3/99. 
FAMILY: Married. 2 children aged 2 and 6.
ADDRESS: Thirida 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate to Nwa La Bo. Brother-in-law of "Say Mya" [interview #7].

Q: How many houses are there in Thirida?

A: There were around 90 to 100 houses but there are none now. There were not 1,000 houses as my sister-in-law told you. The Burmese burned all the houses and forced the villagers to leave. Some people went to Nwa La Bo and some went to Shadaw. I didn’t count, but there were about 100 families who went to Nwa La Bo when we did.

Q: Was Nwa La Bo a village?

A: Nwa La Bo was a vacant area but there were villages nearby. It became a relocation site for gathering people together. Before we went to live there it was nothing. The soldiers watched us and didn’t allow us to go out [of Nwa La Bo]. If we did go out, we had to get a pass from them which cost 10 Kyats and we could only stay out for a few days. In Nwa La Bo you can’t do any work to get food. The only way to get food is to sell all your belongings, such as the silver coins our parents gave us, and buy food. Finally, all our belongings were gone.

Q: How far from Nwa La Bo could you go?

A: When we were living in Nwa La Bo, we had to go far to farm. They didn’t allow us to go to our old villages. They cleared a place nearby using a bulldozer but the soil there was no good so we had to go very far away to cut a farm in the hills. We went out early in the morning and arrived at the farm at 10 a.m. so we couldn’t work that day. They only allowed us 2 or 3 days so we didn’t have enough time to work the farm. We didn’t get any rice from the farm because there was no rain.

Q: Is there army camp near Nwa La Bo?

A: The army camp is beside the village [Nwa La Bo], about a 2 minute walk away. When I was there, [Battalions] 250 and 261 were living in the camp.

Q: When you left, would they have allowed you to leave if they knew you were coming here?

A: If they had known they wouldn’t have allowed us, but they didn’t know when we left because we left during the night. We couldn’t leave as a large group so it was only our family that left together. We took rice with us when we left, and when we stayed in a Shan village for a few days I hired myself out to carry wood for some people and got more rice. It took 10 or more days to get here, I don’t remember. The only people I saw on the way also wanted to come here. Some of them had left before me but some of them had left after me. We met each other on the way.

Q: What sort of problems did you encounter on the way?

A: On the way, we saw some old people who were so ill that they couldn’t walk. We had to carry them because they had diarrhoea. They have already arrived here.

Q: Did you have to do forced labour when you were in Nwa La Bo?

A: They forced us to work for them, and because we were afraid of them we had to. We were forced to work on a car road, and the Army beat and jailed any Thirida villagers who went back to Thirida. They did that in 1996, in the first year of the relocation, to some of my relatives: K--, C--- and P---, each of whom were over 20 years old.

Q: Why did they put them in jail?

A: When they relocated to Nwa La Bo some of their property, such as cattle and buffaloes, was left behind in Thirida. They wanted to see them so they went back but didn’t have a pass. The soldiers put them in jail because they broke the soldiers’ rule of not going back to the old villages. They were arrested in their old village so they didn’t get their belongings. They stayed in jail for 6 months and then were released and are now living in Nwa La Bo. When they were first arrested the soldiers beat them until their faces were swollen. They beat them every day while they were in jail. If they were still in jail they might be dead by now, because the air is not clean there. Their skin turned yellow because of that terrible place, but they have improved a little since they took some medicine. They are able to work a little now but they aren’t as strong as they were before.

Q: What are they doing for food now?

A: They hired themselves out as we did. We hired ourselves out to people who needed people to cut trees and work on their farms. People like the village headman or the area leader from the villages nearby would hire us to clean their gardens. We bought rice to eat with what we earned, but we still had to eat one meal a day less than normal.

Q: How many times did you have to porter in 1998?

A: I didn’t have to do porter work because Nwa La Bo is near Loikaw [Siridaw in Kayah] so there’s not much need for porters. They have a car to carry things the short distance to town. What we had to do was build a fence around the Burmese garden area, fetch water for them from the village and other things. Sometimes they fetch their own water but sometimes they forced us to do it because they’re lazy. They forced people to fetch water for them in turns. Each turn lasts quite a long time. Sometimes we only had to fetch water once or twice a day.

Q: Do you think more people from Nwa La Bo are coming here?

A: I think if they can find the way to get here they will come, but I don’t know if they know how to get here. I couldn’t find food there any more, much as many of the people still living there can’t, so I tried to leave. Some people had left before me but I didn’t see them. When I left I think there were about 100 families still in Nwa La Bo, but I’m not sure because I didn’t count.

Q: Were children ill?

A: Because there were many people from north, south, east and west we didn’t know each other. We didn’t know who was ill but if somebody died, we heard about it. In the first year, many people died. There is no hospital.

Q: Is there a school?

A: There is no school.

Q: Do you want to go back?

A: Even if I go back I can’t stay there. I want to go back but I don’t dare to.

Q: How old are you [addressing his wife]?

Wife: I don’t know [about 30]. I used to be a Christian but now I’m not.

Q: Were you happy in Nwa La Bo?

Wife: No. We had to do forced labour. Even though I was ill, I still had to go. We had to fetch water for the Burmese once a week. They didn’t give us anything to eat and scolded us but I didn’t understand because I can’t speak [Burmese].

Q: Do you like living here?

A: I don’t like it. I miss my mother.

"Doh Reh": She was living together with her mother but now her mother lives in Shan State. Her mother came with them, but on the way here her mother couldn’t walk because she is so old. She stopped there and stayed with her son. She has an older brother there in Shan State.

Interview #9

NAME: "Nyi Reh" SEX: M AGE: 28 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Single. 4 siblings, he’s the youngest, the eldest is 35.
ADDRESS: Daw Dta Hay 
DESCRIPTION: Kayah. Native of Daw Dta Hay.

Q: When did you arrive here?

A: January 16 [1999]. My parents didn’t come with me, they are still in Daw Dta Hay. I didn’t tell them or write to them about my coming here because I can’t read or write, but they know I’m here. A person who came here 2 weeks after I did said that my mother believed I had come here. They wanted to come as well but they couldn’t walk the long distance. I came alone but have a sister here. 408 people arrived when I did, some of them are from Nwa La Bo, some are from Shadaw, some are from Bpa Law, which is near the Pon River, and some are from other villages. Some people were living in the forest but they came from Shadaw.

Q: Is Daw Dta Hay a relocation site?

A: People from Thirida, Daw Tanaw and other villages were forced to leave their mountain villages and went there. I am from Daw Dta Hay originally. There are about 120 households in Daw Dta Hay. I don’t know what villages all the people in Daw Dta Hay are from.

Q: Why did you come here?

A: Because they forced us to work. Other people want to come here as well but they can’t; they can’t even leave the village. They forced us to cut trees for them to sell. They forced us to fetch 2 big tins of water and take them to their camp 8 times a day. One person was forced to do that 8 times a day and if you couldn’t, they either put you in the stocks for 24 hours, fined you 2,000 Kyats, or you could give them 5 viss [8 kg or 17.5 lb.] of meat such as pork or beef. People who had ox-carts could use them to fetch water but those who didn’t have them had to carry it themselves. They used all that water for drinking, washing and bathing. Now there’s not enough water in the village.

Q: What problems did you encounter along the way?

A: There were many problems but we had to come. There were people near farms along the way [to the border with Thailand], some of whom have no rice or food. The farmers also complain that they don’t have enough rice because the army takes half the paddy from their farms.

Q: Did they force you to work while you were in Daw Dta Hay?

A: We had to do forced labour in the village and on the hill. There is an army training camp there called Sa Gka Khun [abbreviation for ‘Column 7’]. Soldiers from Battalions 43, 261, 250 and 102 came for the training. There were 30 to 50 soldiers from each battalion and they came from places like Dee Maw So, Pleh Ku, Hsi Hsaing and other places. Their commander and head trainer is Major Kyi Hlaing and he is from Pleh Ku. There are many officers staying there: Major Myeh Kyeh, Bo Win Myint and Bo Ne Win. The captains who came are Captains Aung Saung and Thay Htoo. Thay Htoo is Karen and is from Hsi Hsaing. There are also instructors, namely: Than Naing Oo, Moe Zaw Oo, Maw Way, Thant Oo, Kyaw Shwe, Chit Ko Ko and others. They had a training exercise there for soldiers ages 14 to 30 that they called ‘Column 7 Training Exercise’. There are over 100 soldiers. The soldiers are from many villages, such as Bay Yay, Hsi Hsaing and Dee Maw So. They are from all battalions including 250 and 261 and they went there for the training exercise. They said they would force us to do the exercise also, but they didn’t and we didn’t know when they were going to. They forced villagers to kill pigs for them [for an opening celebration banquet] and only gave them about one third of the cost. The villagers still have to give chickens and they are demanding beef twice a week. Some villagers still have to give them rice and if it’s the big commander, they have to give their best quality rice. Many people can’t work on their farms and produce food because the army forces each family to do 5 acres of a rubber plantation. The plantation is beside their army camp. The people are cutting and clearing the area but the rubber seedlings haven’t come yet. The army is forcing people to prepare the area before the seedlings arrive. People also have to do clearing and do plantations of things like peanuts and other kinds of beans for the army. Also, if cattle go near their camp, they take them into their camp garden area and then the owners must give them 5,000 Kyats to get their cattle back. Moreover, if the cattle trample 10 big tins worth of peanuts, they charge the owner the cost of 15 big tins of peanuts. If nobody comes to get the cattle, they shoot them.

Q: What sort of Loh Ah Pay do people have to do for the army?

A: For the road construction, they forced people who own ox-carts to carry stones, 3 trips each day. Those who don’t have ox-carts have to lay the stones on the road. People have to stand up while they are working. If they sit down, the soldiers beat them with bamboo as big as my forearm [about 5 cm in diameter]. I saw them beat E---, R--- and a few other people. They were sitting down so the soldiers beat them and said, "Don’t you see what those other people are doing?" People can’t even sit and rest. I only saw a few people who were beaten because I had to go and dig out the stones and bring them to the road on carts.

Q: Do they give rice to the labourers?

A: People who go for Loh Ah Pay have to take their own rice and water, they don’t provide either. People have to go at 8:00 a.m. and then they can return and 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. We had to work very hard without taking a rest. We were forced to go for Loh Ah Pay 2 days per week, every week.

Q: Do the villagers have fields?

A: There are 120 houses in Daw Dta Hay and 20 houses have fields. The villagers can work their fields but the army takes half of their rice.

Q: Have you ever gone to school?

A: No, I have never gone to school. Daw Dta Hay only has a primary school. I had to take care of the buffaloes and then work on the farm. However, now we can’t work on the farm because we always have to work for the soldiers. The soldiers force us to get a pass from them which costs 50 Kyats and is for one day. A pass for a week costs 150 Kyats. One week is the maximum they allow. If you don’t come back on time, they put you in the stocks for a week.

Q: Do they ever demand money from the villagers?

A: They demand money often. They forced a boat owner to go and buy some things for them and when he returned a little bit late, they fined him 2,000 Kyats. People have to buy them things from Loikaw or Leh Lwin town [Leh Lwin is Burmese, in Kayah it’s Leh Lwin Lin]. They demanded he be back by 7 o’clock and he arrived at 8 o’clock. It was his boat, they forced him to go without paying him and when he was a little late they fined him. The soldiers have a car but they don’t use it and say they don’t have petrol or a battery and then force the villagers to do things. When they sell charcoal, they force the villagers to go to Leh Lwin Lin and sell it for them but don’t pay them anything.

Q: Have many people from Daw Dta Hay came here?

A: I don’t know. I know that only a few people came because people couldn’t get out. I fled with S--- who is 24 years old. We fled together when they forced us to cut trees for them. We came by way of the Shan border. I started heading here on January 3rd [1999] and arrived here on January 16th.

Q: What did you eat on the way here?

A: There were Shan farms on the way and if we arrived at a farm in the morning the farmer gave us food. We spoke to each other in Burmese and I asked them if they wanted to come here with us but they didn’t dare. The Shan farmers work and live on their farms, there are no old villages in the area anymore. In the evening we didn’t eat anything.

Q: Do you want to say anything else?

A: In October of 1997 they captured 6 Kayah people, between the ages of 30 and 40 years old, in Daw Dta Hay and put them in jail for 3 years. Their names are Seh Reh, Gee Reh, Pah Reh, Ee Reh, Soe Reh and Soe Reh. There were two Soe Rehs. They put them in the jail in Loikaw, the only jail in the area. The soldiers captured and jailed them because they didn’t go for Loh Ah Pay when the village headman called them to go. I saw them go. I don’t know exactly why they captured them and put them in jail. They were people who were from Daw Dta Hay originally and could speak Burmese. Soldiers from Battalion 54 beat them and electrocuted them while interrogating them. Their brains aren’t normal anymore and they have oedema. Battalion 54 has left and gone other places, now soldiers from Pleh Kue and other areas are stationed there.

Q: What other abuses have you seen?

A: They like to marry women who are too young. One soldier wanted to take a 12 year old Kayah girl named C--- as his wife. People told them the girl is too young and not to take her but their commander forced the people to give her to his soldier. The girl had to agree even though she didn’t want to. Another girl, L---, was studying in grade 8 and had to stop studying [to marry a soldier]. She was 14 years old. An 18 year old girl named H--- also had to marry a soldier. They didn’t want to marry the soldiers but the commander said they should marry his soldiers so they had to do it. That was last year. One of the girls is close to having a child. Their parents aren’t very happy about this.

Q: Anything else?

A: An instructor, Sergeant Kyaw Shway, raped a Kayah woman who had a husband and 2 children. That happened in July of 1998. Kyaw Shway has a wife but she isn’t with him in the relocation site so he raped her. When many people were talking about it, his commander asked him and he denied it saying it wasn’t true and that the Kayah villagers were spreading rumours. Finally, they called the Kayah woman and she said it was true. She said, "When my husband was not at home, he came and raped me." Kyaw Shway ran away to Yan Gone [Rangoon] to escape.

Q: Is there a hospital in Daw Dta Hay?

A: No, there’s no hospital but there’s a clinic at Goe Nah, a Shan village. There are two villages there, a Kayah village above a Shan village. We call them Daw Kloh Ku and Goe Nah Glo Ku. There is a middle school in Daw Kloh Ku. There is a primary school in Daw Dta Hay.

Q: Do you have to pay when you go to the clinic in Goe Nah?

A: If we go to the clinic between Thursday and Saturday we have to pay. If we go between Monday and Wednesday they are open, so we don’t have to pay.

Interview #10

NAME: "Eh Reh" SEX: F AGE: 35+ INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married with 5 children (had 8 but 3 died).
ADDRESS: Daw Wi Gkou (26 houses) 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate to Shadaw relocation site.

Q: When did some of your children die?

A: A long time ago. They were ill and we had medicine but it didn’t work. We were in Shadaw at the time.

Q: Why did you leave Daw Wi Gkou?

A: The Burmese forced everyone to go to Shadaw. If we didn’t go to Shadaw they would have killed us so there is no one left there, everyone went to Shadaw. Shadaw is a one hour walk from Daw Wi Gkou.

Q: Did they give you rice when you relocated?

A: They never gave us rice, ever. We had to buy rice until we had no money to buy any more. [When there was no rice to eat] we ate vegetables and tubers. We ate those anytime we didn’t have any rice.

Q: Did you have to do Loh Ah Pay?

A: We always had to go for Loh Ah Pay but they never gave us anything [for our work]. Men had to go to cut bamboo and build a fence around the Burmese army camp while the women stayed at home. If there were no men in the house then a woman had to go in place of the man. I never went myself. My husband went, and if he couldn’t go one of my children went.

Q: How old is your eldest child?

A: She is about 22 or 25 years old, I don’t know. She went to the hospital to take care of her younger brother who is ill and has a fever.

Q: What happened to your son that he is in the hospital?

A: There’s water in his lungs. He also had to go for Loh Ah Pay while he was in Shadaw. He had to build the Burmese road in Shadaw village. They only build roads in the village, not outside the village. They didn’t give him anything to eat. We planted corn beside our house and he took that with him to eat. We ate corn when we had no rice. There was no paddy yield [the latest crop - 1998] because the weather was hot and there was no rain. We planted quite a bit of corn but it wasn’t enough because the Burmese came and ate it too.

Q: Could [Shadaw] villagers go outside the village to work?

A: We couldn’t go out. I don’t know about leaving with a pass.

Q: Are there soldiers in Shadaw?

A: They aren’t living in the village. Shadaw is like this refugee camp, soldiers are guarding the perimeter. We women never go anywhere. It’s wonderful that he["Doh Reh"] speaks Karen. Could you teach me to speak Karen? I can speak a little Burmese because I visited the Burmese people living in Shadaw. I learned Burmese in Shadaw. There are Burmese and Shan villagers there. Mostly they speak Burmese.

Q: If the soldiers knew you were coming here would they have allowed it?

A: They didn’t know we were coming here. If they had known, they wouldn’t have allowed it. Moreover, they would have shot us dead. We were two families together, about 10 people in all, and we left during the night. We saw people on the way and came together with them. I don’t know how many people we were altogether. I didn’t know the way. I just followed people who had come here before to sell things. The people we met on the way [to the border with Thailand]didn’t have much rice to eat. As for us, we ate the rice we brought with us. There are 7 people in our family and we carried one big tin of rice to eat. People who didn’t have rice asked for a bit from those people who did. We shared with each other but when nobody had any rice we didn’t eat.

Q: Is there a school in Shadaw?

A: There is a school but none of my children went to school. My bigger children are too shy to go, my smaller children are too small to go and my middle children are dead.

Q: Is there a hospital in Shadaw?

A: Yes, there is.

Q: Would you like to go back to Karenni State some day?

A: I would like to go back but I can’t go back. I’m afraid of the Burmese. The situation isn’t good now. If the Burmese are not there, we will go back. But if this place [the refugee camp] can feed us forever, then we won’t go back. I don’t know if we’ll be happy here or not because I only arrived here 2 months ago. My elder siblings are here also, in section 9.

Interview #11

NAME: "Kay Reh" SEX: M AGE: 50+ INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married twice. 2 children from the first marriage and 8 from the second. Currently has only 5 children, the rest died.
ADDRESS: Daw Wi Gkou (26 houses) 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate to Shadaw. Husband of "Eh Reh" [Interview 10]

Q: Can you leave Shadaw to work?

A: We cannot go out, though I never tried to get a pass. The soldiers were always watching.

Q: Did you have to do Loh Ah Pay?

A: Yes, I had to go for Loh Ah Pay one day each week. Usually we had to cut bamboo and build a fence. We also had to cut grass and bushes beside the road. Men, women and children starting at age 14 had to go for Loh Ah Pay.

Q: Did you see the soldiers beat the people doing Loh Ah Pay?

A: I saw them beat people to make them afraid but I don’t know their names. There are many old people and when we couldn’t work they beat and scolded us. They scolded us in Burmese so I didn’t understand.

Q: Why did you come here?

A: The weather was hot and there was no rain so we couldn’t get any rice. We didn’t have enough food to eat and we have relatives here so we came.

Q: How do people in Shadaw get food to live?

A: When we had money we could buy rice from the Burmese shop but when we didn’t have enough money we had to boil rice to make rice soup and eat other things, like tubers. If there were no tubers there, many people would die of hunger. Tubers have become the main food for people living there.

Q: How do you prepare the tuber?

A: After you dig it up, you should put it in water for 4 days and then put them in the sun to dry. After that you can cook them.

Interview #12

NAME: "Meh Oo" SEX: F AGE: xx INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married with 6 children, one is still in Shadaw.
ADDRESS: Shadaw Township 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate to Shadaw. Her daughter ("Eh Meh", 15 or 16 yr. old, F, second youngest child) had to do forced labour while in Shadaw.

Q: Is there anyone in your village?

A: No. There were 17 houses but most people, including me, went to stay in Shadaw and some people went to live in the jungle.

Q: Did you have to go for Loh Ah Pay when you were in Shadaw?

A: My daughter had to go for it often.

Q: What kind of work did you have to do when you went for Loh Ah Pay?

"Eh Meh": We had to clean the village and carry stones for the road. I had to go for a whole day once a week and they never gave us anything to eat. We weren’t allowed to take a rest. The soldiers were watching over us with guns. If we took a rest, they scolded us. I was very tired. We could only stop working to have lunch. When we wanted to go back, we asked permission and they scolded us.

Q: Did you or any of your siblings go to school?

"Eh Meh": I didn’t go because I had to work on the paddy farm. We didn’t get enough rice. My sister here went to school, but she can’t hear very well.

Q: Did you have enough rice to eat while you were there?

"Eh Meh": No, not enough. When there was no rice we had to eat tubers.

A: We dug up tubers to eat but there aren’t as many as before. The reason there are fewer is because everybody is digging them up to eat. People who can’t prepare the tuber properly get sick.

Q: Is there a Roman Catholic church in Shadaw [many Karenni people are Catholic]?

A: Yes there is, and one of my children is still in the church. The supervisor of the church looks English but he speaks Kayah too. I don’t know what he is[foreigner or local].

Q: When you were in Shadaw, did you see soldiers guarding the area or making a fence around Shadaw?

A: Shadaw doesn’t have a fence surrounding it, only the army camp does. If they made a fence around Shadaw we wouldn’t have been able to go out.

Q: Did you have to get a pass when you went out for work?

A: We had to get a pass. If we go out and come back on the same day, it’s no problem. If we go and sleep [outside Shadaw] we have to give 5 Kyats. I’ve never gone to get a pass myself, I’ve only heard people talk about it.

Q: When did you arrive here?

A: I arrived here one month ago but I don’t remember the date.

Q: Did you have any problems coming here?

A: No problems except fatigue.

Q: How many families came with you when you left Shadaw?

A: When we went to live in Shadaw there were many people who had to do the same. Later, many of us left Shadaw but not at the same time. Groups of two or three families left at a time.

Q: Did you leave Shadaw during the night?

A: We left during the night because we are afraid of the Burmese. They wouldn’t have let us come if they had seen us. We carried rice with us and saw many people on the way.

Interview #13

NAME: "Paw Paw" SEX: F AGE: 27 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married. 3 children aged 1-7.
ADDRESS: Po Bu Ku (#116, near Mawchi) 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate to Mawchi relocation site. Husband captured by the Army.

Q: Where is your village?

A: My village is Po Bu Ku, which is a Karenni village. It’s near Mu Kee [Mawchi] but far from Taw Oo [Toungoo]. Po Bu Ku is about 4 hours walking time from Mawchi. I worked on a farm in my village which had about 30 houses.

Q: When the Burmese forced you to relocate, where did they force you to live?

A: They forced most people to go and live in Mawchi, but people without children didn’t go and ran into the jungle. They forced all the hill villages to go, but villages such as Bu Ko Kwa Chi didn’t go because it was too far. Only 3 families from Plo Htee village went. As for our village, Po Bu Ku, more than half of the villagers went. They said that they would kill people who didn’t go to Mawchi. They really killed people when they went to look for them. They didn’t give us enough food to eat. They only gave us a little food and forced us to work for them so we couldn’t stay there and went to live in Loikaw. My husband, S---, was going to log in Taunggyi [Shan State] with some other people but on his way the Burmese captured them. A few of them ran and escaped. Those who escaped were Burmese, Shan and Kayah, none of the Karen escaped. They have had my husband since then. He is 29 years old. I didn’t know about that until 2 people came back and told me that the Burmese captured the people who had gone logging. I lived in Loikaw for another 7 months until I realised I couldn’t stay there anymore, and then I came here.

Q: Do you think they were using your husband as a porter?

A: I don’t know if they used them to be porters, hit them or killed them. It’s been a long time. If he is still alive, he might come back. Up until now he hasn’t come back or written a letter. Most people have said there’s no hope that he’s alive. We haven’t heard anything about him.

Q: While you were in Mawchi, did you go back to your village to farm?

A: We are not allowed to go back. They didn’t let anyone go back to work. They said they feed the people but the food they give is not enough. They are very dangerous. They kill villagers and force them to work hard so most people couldn’t stay and ran away.

Q: When you were in Mawchi, what did you do?

A: At that time I had a small baby so I didn’t have to do anything except take care of my children. As for the other people, the Burmese forced them to do Loh Ah Pay. They came and told me to do it but I told them I had a small baby so they didn’t make me go. My husband had gone to find us a place to stay in Loikaw at that time.

Q: How long did you stay in Mawchi?

Interview #14

NAME: "Soe Reh" SEX: M AGE: 63 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married (for a second time) with 4 children (18-28 years old)
ADDRESS: Suah Bper (almost 30 houses), Mawchi township 
DESCRIPTION: Forced to relocate to Mawchi then fled. Moe Nu Moe Naw (ethnicity).

Q: How far is your village from Mawchi?

A: 3 hours walk.

Q: Why did you go to Mawchi?

A: When the Burmese came 4 or 5 years ago we ran into the forest, one or two miles from our village. That was in 1996, during the Four Cuts campaign. They came to Suah Bper and told us we had to go to Mawchi. We all went there as they ordered. Later, some people went to Pah Saung, some to Loikaw and some to other places depending on where people had relatives. They didn’t give us enough food and we couldn’t find food there. We stayed there for 3 or 4 months and then ran to our village. If we heard about the Burmese [coming] we ran and hid in the jungle. We ran like that time after time until we had no food because we couldn’t work on our farms. We couldn’t even harvest 10 big tins of rice. That’s not enough. Finally we came here.

Q: Did they see your farm when they came?

A: They saw it but we had to run because if they saw us they would kill us. When they came to our farm and saw our things, they took them all.

Q: When you were living in Mawchi for 3 months, did you have to work for the Burmese?

A: We had to do Loh Ah Pay. We had to carry stones for them to build their monks’ place. They didn’t tell us to build a road. At first they said they would give each person 2 bowls of rice per week but actually they only gave each person one bowl of rice and each bowl only had 7 small tins [1 bowl is supposed to equal 8 small tins]. They also gave 1 small tin of salt for every 3 people. They didn’t watch us but they lived in their area and we lived in our section.

Q: How many months were you living in the jungle?

A: I lived in the jungle for 2 years. There was no school so the children couldn’t study. We had no medicine.

Q: Did anyone die of illness while you were in the jungle?

A: Many people, both children and adults, died because of diarrhoea. We were living on a hillside and some of our children were infected. 4 or 5 people died. Kya Leh Kyay, Shway Ta Bee, Htoo Nay Moo’s son, another boy, Da Tae Tae, Naw Klu and another one whose name I can’t remember.

Q: Where are the other families who are living in the jungle?

A: They are still living in the jungle. They would like to come here but they can’t because it’s not easy to get here. They didn’t come with us because they didn’t see us. We had to come secretly. We couldn’t tell anyone where we were going. Now, we dare not trust anyone because we are afraid they’ll inform the Burmese.

Q: Were there any problems for you on the way here?

A: It took us 5 days to come here and we hid on the way. They didn’t see us, but when they arrived at our place after we had run away they destroyed our place and our things. We were 2 families, 9 people in all.

Q: When did you arrive here?

A: I arrived here 5 months ago [November 1998].

Q: How did you know to come here?

A: My daughter is here. She went to work at xxxx. The Burmese went to that place so she ran here with friends. Her friend who went there told us that she is here so we came.

Interview #15

NAME: "Nga Reh" SEX: M AGE: 30 INTERVIEWED: 3/99.
FAMILY: Married. 4 chidren but 2 already died. 2 surviving children aged 3 yr. and 3 months
ADDRESS: Suah Bper, Mawchi township
DESCRIPTION: Moe Nu Moe Naw (nationality / ethnicity), farmer. Related to interview 14.

Q: When you were in your village, Suah Bper, what did you do?

A: I worked on a farm.

Q: Have you ever been to school?

A: I have never been to school. When I was a child there was no school. When I got married there was a school in the village but that has been closed for 3 years, since the situation has been bad. It was a Karenni school.

Q: Did you go to Mawchi?

A: I lived there for 3 months and then ran to the jungle with my uncle, "Soe Reh" [see Interview 14]. We worked on a farm but we had no time to work because we were running and hiding all the time. We couldn’t work to eat.

Q: Did you have to do Loh Ah Pay?

A: Twice a week.

Q: Were you allowed to go back to your village to work on your farm?

A: We were not allowed.

Q: When you fled from Mawchi, where did you live?

A: We were living near our old village.

Q: Were there many people hiding in the jungle?

A: There were many people. My children died of diarrhoea while I was in the jungle. One died when he was four months old, I hadn’t named him yet. The other one died when he was 3 years old, his name was Htoo Nay Moo. The two children I have now were born in the jungle.

Q: When you were in the jungle, did the Burmese soldiers come anytime?

A: The Burmese soldiers came. They came and if they saw villagers they killed them. They fired their guns in the jungle when they came but nobody got injured. They burned things in the village but didn’t burn our huts in the jungle.

Q: When did you come here?

A: I came here 5 months ago [November 1998].

List of Villages Affected

The following villages are known to have been forcibly relocated in 1996, some in 1997 and early 1998. 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 (278 K) on Page 59 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.

 

A: I went there during the Four Cuts policy [the relocations of 1996] and stayed there for one month. They gave us one bowl of rice per person for each week. Other than rice they gave us some old clothes and one viss [1.6 kg or 3.5 lb.] of salt. After that I went to live near Dee Maw So for one year and then I went to Loikaw. I lived there in a town called Mello.

Q: When you were in Dee Maw So, did you see the Burmese soldiers?

A: The Burmese came on patrols. If they heard that the people here [Karenni soldiers] had been there, they came and punished the villagers. They gathered up the men and threatened them. They asked them questions and if they couldn’t answer them, they beat them. I only heard about that, I didn’t see it with my own eyes.

Q: Did you have to do Loh Ah Pay when you were in Loikaw?

A: When I was there, I had to rent a house, buy water and give a guest fee of 50 Kyats per month [to the authorities]. Water cost 50 Kyats per month and the rent was 400 Kyats per month. They only forced the house owner to do Loh Ah Pay. People who rented the house didn’t have to go. Rented houses don’t have good roofs; we got wet when it rained. Rice is very expensive and my husband wasn’t with me so it was very difficult for me to live. I lived in Loikaw for almost 2 years[actually closer to 1 year and 4 months].

Q: Did you hear about the people who ran into the jungle?

A: The people who were hiding in the forest [near Mawchi] suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting. Almost every one of them died. The villagers couldn’t bury the dead in places far away so they buried them beside their shelters. As for our village, the Burmese are encamped and living there so people ran to hide in the jungle and then they got diarrhoea. They had no medicine so almost all of them died. Only a few people are left, some live in xxxx and some are still hiding in the xxxx forest.

Q: Do you know the names of any of those people who died?

A: There are many people, I can’t remember them all. I can remember Naw Nay Say, Maw Tu Moe, Maw Tu Pah, Thara Saw Gkeh Gkeh’s father in-law, Doh Paw Moe and the children whose names I can’t remember. There were many!

Q: When you came here, did you see any problems along the way?

A: There were no problems except in Baw La Keh, where the Burmese searched people. If they see medicine, they search and interrogate people [they suspect villagers carrying medicine of taking it to the resistance forces]. If you are good they won’t make problems for you, they let you go. If they know that you are coming here, they make trouble and won’t let you come. I told them that I was going to go to Mae Se to visit my aunt and they allowed me to go. When I came, I had a nationality card that I rented from someone who looks like me. They don’t interrogate you too much if you have a small baby. They mostly interrogate men.

Q: When did you arrive here?

A: I left [Loikaw] on March 8th [1999] and arrived here on March 12th. I came by bus. My cousin who lives in Loikaw came with me. She brought me here because she took pity on me and then went back. My mother and siblings are living here. All of my siblings are married except the youngest who is studying. My mother has been here for 3 years, she came before the Four Cuts policy.

 

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 Mawchi 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 Mawchi to relocation sites near Mawchi. 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 Mawchi 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.

.


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 were forced to sign papers guaranteeing that they would be forced to relocate if any shots were 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. These villages were subsequently forced to relocate to Nwa La Bo and other smaller sites in the area in late 1997 and early 1998.

 

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)