Enduring Hunger and Repression: Food Scarcity, Internal Displacement, and the Continued Use of Forced Labour in Toungoo District

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Enduring Hunger and Repression: Food Scarcity, Internal Displacement, and the Continued Use of Forced Labour in Toungoo District

Published date:
Friday, September 24, 2004

The SPDC's continued efforts to remove all traces of resistance from the hills of Toungoo District have resulted in a wide range of human rights abuses. In order to gain complete control over the region, the SPDC is continuing with its road construction projects, increasing its military presence and establishing more Army camps across the district. There are now few areas which SPDC Army columns cannot reach. Villagers living under SPDC control are constantly called upon to construct and maintain these roads and to porter supplies and munitions along them to outlying SPDC Army camps. The relentless demands for forced labour, materials, food, and money have resulted in severe food shortages. Many villagers in the district have chosen to live internally displaced hiding in the forest rather than live under the SPDC. Several thousand villagers are now living in hiding. Large numbers of landmines continue to be sown throughout the district, posing a very real threat which will remain in place for years to come.

Landmines

"We had to go on the 11 th [of March, 2002]. There were over 300 villagers who had to go. Villagers have to go from every village. The quota for xxxx village was 30 sacks of rice, so they demanded thirty people. They [SPDC] walked behind the villagers. Some of them [porters] were injured and some of them were killed. Some of them stepped on mines. Some of them were dead when they arrived back to their village, but some of them didn't die [they were wounded, but not fatally]."

"Saw Hser Moo" (M, 29), forcibly relocated villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #51, 3/02)

Both the SPDC and the KNLA lay landmines in Toungoo District, but it is often the villagers who are the victims. Many villagers have been maimed or killed after stepping on them in their fields or on paths. SPDC military units have placed landmines in villagers' fields and beside houses in villages after they have ordered them to be relocated. This is becoming more common as a way of denying the villagers the ability to go back to their village without having to burn it down which creates evidence. SPDC soldiers have also placed them in the fields of displaced villagers and on the trails in the forest that they know internally displaced villagers use to carry rice back to their hiding places. Landmines placed by the SPDC alongside roads, presumably to keep the KNLA from landmining the roads, have killed several villagers who were ordered to clear the brush from beside the road [see 'Road Projects'] . 

"Last summer [2002] they planted landmines [near the village] and one of the young women who was only 28 years old was wounded. She died after stepping on a Burmese landmine. That young woman's name was Naw L–; she was from xxxx village. Recently on March 6 th [2002], one of our villagers, Saw aaaa, who came to live in our village when the situation became unstable, was injured by a landmine and one of his legs was blown off when he was going back to yyyy [village]."

"Saw Bo Kee" (M, 50), village head from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #75, 7/02)

"They [Dam Byan Byaut Kya] place landmines on the path that the civilians and villagers use to go to their hill fields. ... They still place landmines at the lower side of Tantabin township, [especially] the west side. ... They have come up and placed landmines in places like Ko Lu, Pway Baw Der and Saw Mu Der."

"Saw Eh Doh" (M, 25), KHRG field researcher (Interview #1, 2/01)

"They [SPDC] laid landmines. Recently, on March 22 nd 2002, my uncle, my father, and I went to Kler Lah. At that time, my father, and one of my friends hit landmines and died. My other friends and I ran away. We were afraid, so we ran away."

"Saw Eh T'Thee" (M, 12), villager from K– village, Than Daung township (Interview #172, 3/02)

Landmines are manufactured by the SPDC in factories located in central Burma. The SPDC Army uses landmines as perimeter defences at their camps, in ambushes against the KNLA, as well as to directly target the villagers. The SPDC currently produces two main landmines: the MM-1 stake fragmentation mine and the MM-2 blast mine. The MM-1 is a copy of the Chinese-made PMOZ-2 stake fragmentation or 'corncob' mine, and the MM-2 is a copy of the Chinese-made PMN blast mine [photos of both these mines can be seen in KHRG Photo Set 2002-A (December 2002)] . The MM-1 is roughly the size and shape of a soft drink can and can be buried or rigged to a tripwire. The MM-2 mine is buried so that the flat top surface is at ground level. The MM-1 is the more powerful of the two. One Karen relief worker familiar with the human rights situation in Toungoo District told KHRG that each SPDC battalion is given 50 antipersonnel blast landmines as well as 30 directional fragmentation claymore-type mines. He did not elaborate, but one would assume that once these mines have been deployed, a fresh supply would be issued to the battalion.

"Each [SPDC Army] battalion has 50 landmines and 30 claymore mines. They use them for revenge because they stepped on the KNU landmines. The SPDC plant their landmines everywhere. [They plant them] under the trees, on the roads, and at the places where the villagers will take a rest."

"Saw Play Kaw" (M, 31), Karen relief worker (Interview #197, 8/03)

The KNLA often removes the landmines if any of their units are in the vicinity, but the villagers do sometimes try to remove them themselves. Neither the villagers nor the KNLA have mine detection equipment or body shields, so landmine removal is very dangerous. Often the landmines are removed by probing for them with a knife and digging them out by hand. Numerous KNLA soldiers and villagers have been killed or maimed trying to remove mines. The KNLA has also become a heavy user of landmines in Toungoo District where bullets are difficult to get and are therefore precious. American and Chinese landmines have become more difficult to obtain on the black market in recent years, so the KNLA now manufactures most of its own mines. Most are made out of simple materials like PVC piping, bamboo, wood, scrap metal and shotgun pellets. Short of ammunition and heavily outnumbered by the SPDC, the KNLA has become increasingly reliant on landmines to hinder the movements of SPDC troops as well as to keep its own supply lines open. The KNLA also uses its landmines to ambush SPDC troops and to defend some of the larger IDP sites. No maps are kept by either side, although the KNLA does try to tell villagers which paths are mined. Their efforts are, however, never enough and although most villagers are killed or maimed by SPDC mines, some villagers are still killed or maimed by KNLA mines.

"The people who went to bury them were their aunt and uncle and their other relatives. At that time, two or three [KNLA] soldiers went with them. The soldiers who went with them went to clear [the area of landmines]. Before they could bury the soldier, they had to clear the area first. Sometimes after they shoot people dead, they [SPDC] place landmines beside the dead body. ... If they are villagers, they only lay landmines sometimes, but if they were soldiers, they always plant landmines. So that when the people go to see the body they will step on the mine."

"Saw Eh Doh" (M, 25), KHRG field researcher (Interview #1, 2/01)

Certain areas of Toungoo District suffer heavily from landmine contamination. Areas within Toungoo District that contain many landmines are: the region stretching from Bu Sah Kee to Saw Mu Der, and the areas surrounding Kaw Thay Der and Naw Soe in Tantabin township, and the wedge of land to the north of Kler Lah bordered by the Day Loh and Klay Loh Rivers in Than Daung township. The banks of the Yaw Loh River, the Klay Loh River, and the Day Loh River are also peppered with mines, as are the car roads and the areas adjacent to the car roads [see Map 3. By planting many mines along the car roads and rivers, the SPDC creates boundaries that the villagers and internally displaced villagers alike do not dare to cross, effectively restricting them to certain areas. However, not all landmine injuries on the car roads can be attributed to SPDC landmines.  The KNLA also lays landmines on the roads to hinder SPDC efforts to resupply their camps. 

Stamp: 
         # Strategic Operations Command Group 

     Ta Pa Ka [Southern Command Headquarters]

                                                                     Mobile # Strategic Operations Command Group 
                                                                     Bawgali Gyi 
                                                                     Letter No: xxxx / Oo 
Date: Year 2002, March 17 th

To: 
     Chairperson 
xxxx village

Subject: Specifying the prohibited area

        When [the villagers from] the villages of xxxx yyyy zzzz wwww go to uuuu village, the car road must be used and the insurgents should not enter uuuu by the path the people travel, it will be closed with landmines starting on March 18 th 2002 at 6 o'clock in the evening, you are informed.

[Sd.] 
(for) Temporary Strategic Operations Commander 

Order # 14: This is a translation of an order sent to several villages in Tantabin Township prohibiting the use of a certain path which was closed with landmines.

The SPDC has been planting landmines on the paths that Nyein Chan Yay villagers and internally displaced villagers use when going to buy food from the markets, to collect water, or to go to their plantations. Often, a number of mines are planted in the same area, so when one person is wounded or killed after stepping on one of the mines, those who come to their aid will also be injured or killed when they step on one of the other mines. Many mines have also been planted in the fields and plantations of both Nyein Chan Yay and displaced villagers. For this reason many fields and plantations are left unharvested. Failure to harvest their crops leaves a lot of villagers without the food or the cash that they would have made from selling the harvest in the local markets. This makes it difficult for the villagers to buy enough rice to feed their families and to pay the endless array of fees imposed upon them. In March 2002, the Strategic Operations Command in Kler Lah issued an order to villagers in the area prohibiting the villagers from using the paths to a specific village in Tantabin township. The order clearly says that landmines would be placed on the paths [see Order #14]. The SPDC's stated intention is to keep 'insurgents' from entering the village, but it will also force villagers to enter through checkpoints where they will be forced to pay bribes. It has the added effect of blocking internally displaced villagers hiding in the surrounding hills from coming down to buy rice. Orders like these are rare as armies on all sides often do not tell the villagers where they have laid their landmines.

"We have heard that they plant landmines and that other villagers have struck these landmines. Some of the people have died and some of them have had their legs or arms blown off when they were walking on the path to go and buy and sell their food. We are afraid of them [landmines]. The SPDC plants their landmines on the path so it is not easy for us to work."

"Naw Der Ler" (F, 45), villager from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #128, 4/02)

"IB #75 and IB #59 plant landmines wherever they go. They plant their landmines on the paths that the villagers use to buy rice and at the places where the villagers will take a rest. They plant two or three landmines in each place. If someone steps on one, when their friends come to help them they are also hurt. Two or three people die each time with these landmines. The SPDC has planted many landmines in the Der Doh area and on the paths. In Kaw Thay Der they have planted most of their landmines in the cardamom plantations and in the betelnut plantations. They have also planted many in the Bu Sah Kee area. They plant them to target the villagers."

"Saw Ku Lu" (M, 26), KHRG field researcher (Interview #4, 8/03)

"Since the SPDC have laid landmines like this, we [villagers] worry about how we are going to stay alive this year. It is near the time when we need to cut the trees [harvest the crops], but we do not dare to cut the trees or go outside [of the village]. How will we sell our betelnut, cardamom, and coffee if we do not dare to take it [to sell in the market]? We are very scared because of the landmines."

"Saw Ba Htee" (M, 40) villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #97, 11/00)

By far the greatest number of landmine injuries occur among the Nyein Chan Yay villagers when they are forced to porter for the Army. Many of the areas where the villagers are forced to porter loads for the SPDC Army are strewn with landmines. Villagers have repeatedly told KHRG that SPDC soldiers force the villagers to walk in front of the soldiers in order to act as human minesweepers. This is especially common on the Kler Lah-Bu Sah Kee road where many villagers have been wounded or killed since the SPDC started building the road in 1995. The KNLA has planted many landmines along the roads and paths to ambush SPDC columns or vehicles. The landmines then lie in wait and remain a threat to civilians for the six to nine months that it takes for the batteries inside them to die. Once the batteries expire, the homemade landmines are rendered ineffective without a power source to ignite the detonator. Considering the number of landmines laid in the district and the frequency which the villagers are forced to porter loads for the SPDC along the heavily landmine-contaminated trails, it is only a matter of time before a villager's luck runs out and he or she steps on a landmine. In order to minimise the chances of this happening, many villagers speak of walking on rocks, along the edges of cliffs, in rivers and tributaries, or in the footprints of those who have gone before them whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

"We are suffering in our village. Ever since the Burmese troops came here, we have had to go and carry loads to Bu Sah Kee. Sometimes when the villagers have to go and carry the loads, some of them die on the way. Many people have been hurt by landmines; there have been a lot. They forced us to go in front. It makes us unhappy to talk about this. Even on Sunday _ we want to worship but they do not allow us. They force us to go, so we must. When we think about it, it is very painful for our hearts, but we can't do anything about it."

"Naw Paw Eh" (F, 22), villager from K– village, Tantabin township (Interview #81, 4/01)

"I have never seen peace. All of the villagers are faced with trouble and it is very difficult for them to stay alive. When IB #30 entered [the village], the women had to go and porter for them. When the women would porter, the enemies [SPDC] would torture them. They would die on the way by [stepping on] the landmines and this would hurt my heart a lot. At that time [when IB #30 came], three girls were killed."

"Saw Ba Htee" (M, 40) villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #97, 11/00)

Q: "Has there been anyone who has been injured by a landmine and had their legs or arms blown off when they have gone to porter?" 
A: "Yes, there have been ten men. Their names were Saw Ler Say, aaaa, Saw Oh Moo, Elder Kya Aye, bbbb, Saw Kler Paw, cccc, dddd, eeee, and ffff. ... Four of them [were killed]. They were Saw Ler Say, Saw Oh Moo, Saw Kler Paw, and Elder Kya Aye. They died straight away. Their friends had to bury them."

"Naw Hser Lay" (F, 50), villager from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #15, 7/01)

"One or two people hit a landmine every year. People always have to go for loh ah pay and sometimes they hit the landmines."

"Saw Hser Moo" (M, 29), forcibly relocated villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #51, 3/02)

"Many people have been injured. They have been hurt by the landmines. There have been four or five people hurt by the landmines. They were all men. The women also have to go to work [portering], but none of them have been injured. ... One of the villagers who was hurt by the landmines was Saw Aye Pray, he died at the Klay Loh River. Another one was Saw Ta Blu, he was also hurt by a landmine at the Klay Loh River. Another one was Saw Hsa Mee, he was hurt by a landmine below Maw Ni Dtine Gyi [Naw Soe] Army camp. Ta Htoo Pa was also hurt by a landmine at Maw Ni Dtine Gyi [Naw Soe] Army camp, and Win Maung was also hurt by a landmine at Naw Soe. They all had to go and carry loads for the enemy [SPDC]."

"Saw Koh Gyi" (M, 45), villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #53, 4/02)

"Since I have been the village head, they have called me many times over many months. They send me to the dangerous places at Kaw Thay Der and Der Doh. I have to walk on the rocks and beside the cliff. It is a place where I am afraid to walk, but I have to go. If I do not go, they will torture me. "

"Saw Hser Paw" (M, 25), forcibly relocated village head from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #165, 3/02)

"When we arrived on the other side of the Yaw Loh [River], they told us, 'You have to step in each other's footprints.' We only went half way and then came back. We did not dare to go any farther."

"Naw Thet Wah" (F, 58), forcibly relocated villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #165, 3/02)

"When they forced the people to carry the loads, they [SPDC] would not walk in front. They forced the people to go in front and they followed them. When the villagers had to go like that, they would get wounded. Four people have died. ... Another eight have been injured. All of those eight people had their legs blown off so they cannot work [to get food] to eat."

"Naw Paw Eh" (F, 18), villager from K– village, Tantabin township (Interview #81, 4/01)

"The enemy forced them to be porters and then they were hurt by the landmines. They all died straight away. They [SPDC] would walk behind them [the porters]. Sometimes when they forced them [the porters] to walk in front, they were injured by the landmines and were killed."

"Saw Koh Gyi" (M, 45), villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #53, 4/02)

"They do not clear the road [of landmines] for the porters. If they [SPDC] do not dare to go in front and are afraid of the landmines, they force us to go in front. We do not dare to, but we have to go [in front]. We have to stomp on the landmines for them. Fifteen people have been injured. Three of them have died. One of them was a woman. We buried her on the side of the road. We had to bury her ourselves. The Burmese [SPDC] didn't come and help us. We didn't take any machetes or mattocks, so we had to bury her with a knife. It [her body] didn't cover well. We didn't take anything [to dig with] with us. We wrapped her in a tarpaulin. That happened over four years ago."

"Naw Lah Mu" (F, 20), villager from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #31, 7/01) 

People do not dare to go to that place, that place is dangerous...

"They [SPDC] planted landmines beside the road so that the people [villagers] couldn't travel anywhere. Our people didn't dare to go there. After they planted the landmines, they posted a sign in front of Kler Lah village which said that they had planted landmines. When they laid the landmines they also gave an order [document], so that they did it legally. There have been many people who have hit the landmines. One of the Kaw Thay Der villagers hit a landmine and had his leg blown off. He did not die, we had to treat him. Now he can walk. Another Kaw Thay Der villager, named Naw L– hit a landmine on April 2 nd [2002] at 11:45, but later died at 2:00 o'clock. Her friend also got a big injury, so she was sent to town [to be treated]. One of the villagers from xxxx [village] was arrested by Deputy Battalion Commander Min Thaw from IB #264 and ordered to walk in front [of the soldiers]. They [SPDC] knew that there were landmines so they forced him to walk in front. He stepped on a landmine and his leg was blown off. Captain Thet Oo of Strategic Operations Command #3 ordered his men to lay landmines on the Klay Wa path beside the Klay Loh River near yyyy [village]. This is the path that they [villagers from yyyy] use when they go to buy food from Kler Lah. On March 21 st [2002] at 6:00 o'clock in the morning, two villagers from yyyy stepped on a landmine and died immediately. One of their friends was also injured. In the afternoon at 1:00 o'clock another villager was injured. He had his leg blown off. He stepped on a landmine at the same place. On April 26th [2002] at midnight, Saw Ki Ki Htoo, a villager from zzzz [village] was killed when he stepped on a landmine. He went to catch some fish. This is the same path that the villagers use when they go to Kler Lah to buy food. Two other people from wwww [village] hit a landmine. One of them died straight away and the other one's eyes were injured, he is now blind. We heard that they laid twenty landmines on the path from Klay Wa to Kler Lah, but we do not know how many they planted beside Kaw Thay Der. People do not dare to go to that place, that place is dangerous. Before, the people were not sure if they [SPDC] had laid landmines or not, but now people are stepping on the mines and dying. Before, the Burmese [Army] threatened, but now they do not threaten anymore, they are really doing it. There have been many people who have stepped on landmines and died. Most of the people [who step on the mines] die. The SPDC mines are very powerful. When the people step on them, most of them die."

"Saw Htoo Say" (M, 38), KHRG field researcher (Interview #3, 8/02)

"They knew [that there were landmines in the area], that is why they did not dare to go. They told the people to go first and that they would come later. They would force us to go in front whenever they did not dare to go themselves."

"Naw Paw Htoo Mu" (F, 25), villager from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #12, 11/00)

Whenever a villager or a villager porter is wounded, the SPDC simply claims that it is the KNU, not the SPDC who is liable. This justification is used by SPDC officers to avoid having to pay compensation for landmine victims. On occasion SPDC units have paid for villagers, usually wounded porters, to go to a hospital, but this is rare. More often it is the villagers themselves who must transport the injured villager and pay for any medical treatment. The SPDC also does not usually pay compensation for villagers who have died from landmines. When a villager is killed or wounded by a landmine it becomes much more difficult for the family to find food.

"My husband hit the landmine on the 23rd of April, 1999. After he hit the landmine he went straight home. He died after he arrived home. I remain alone and my father has to look after me. My father has only one leg. One of his legs was blown off [when he also stepped on a landmine] so he has many problems."

"Naw Blu Paw" (F, 25), villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #122, 3/02)

"My son was wounded badly [by the landmine]. He was wounded on his buttocks and has many other wounds. There were eighteen pieces [of shrapnel] inside him. It happened on January 7th 2002."

"Naw Si Si Paw" (F, 65), villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #99, 1/02)

"When we would go and carry and if one of us got an injury, they would say, 'Your relatives [KNLA] came here and laid these landmines. That is why you were injured.'"

"Naw Paw Htoo Mu" (F, 25), villager from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #12, 11/00)

"There is no compensation. If we die when we go [to porter], we die like the insects."

"Saw Eh Kaw" (M, 40), forcibly relocated villager from xxxx village, Than Daung township (Interview #124, 3/02)

"Aaaa had his leg blown off by a landmine. We had to carry him back ourselves, the men carried him. The soldiers would not do it. We hope that one day we will get peace."

"Naw Paw Htoo Mu" (F, 25), villager from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #12, 11/00)

"They [SPDC] didn't look after them [the landmine victims] and they continued to force us to carry their loads. Then we had to go again and again. The victim's siblings or parents would have to go [for portering] and did not have time to look after them. They [SPDC] did not take responsibility and forced the family to go [for portering]. The victims were left at home without anyone to take care of them. They could do nothing. We had to carry the load for them, and we still do."

"Naw Paw Eh" (F, 18), villager from K– village, Tantabin township (Interview #81, 4/01)

"When my son was alive he could help me, because I can't work. I can't carry, so he would look after me. When he went to Kler Lah, he hit a Burmese landmine, so now there is no one who can help me. ... When their father died, the oldest one [son] was eight years old and the younger one was four years old. Now, the older one is fourteen years old and the younger one is ten. When I think about it [losing both her husband and her son], my heart nearly breaks, but my relatives encourage me so I can stay. If it were not for them, my heart would be broken and I would die."

"Naw Paw Ghee" (F, 45), internally displaced villager from K– village, Than Daung township (Interview # 171, 3/2002)

The internally displaced villagers in Toungoo District suffer more from the landmines than the Nyein Chan Yay villagers. Landmines continue to be one of the leading causes of injury and death among the internally displaced villagers. The SPDC deliberately targets displaced villagers by laying landmines on the paths that they use, in their fields, and in their villages after the inhabitants have fled into the jungle. Displaced villagers who have been arrested by SPDC troops have frequently been forced to porter loads and ordered to walk in front of the soldiers as human minesweepers [see 'Killings, and Shootings' in 'Ywa Bone Villages'] . Internally displaced villagers who are wounded by landmines often die before they can receive medical treatment. It can sometimes take days for the villagers to carry a wounded person to where a medical team or a clinic is. The medics often have insufficient medicines and equipment to take care of landmine injuries.

"I stepped on a landmine. It was on March 22 nd 2002 at 1:55 [pm]. I went to my hill field and when I was coming back I stepped on the landmine beside the Klay Loh River."

"Saw Thu Ka Ma" (M, 24), internally displaced villager from D– village, Than Daung township (Interview #184, 4/02)

"Right now, we are hearing that they are [planting] landmines everywhere. They lay landmines on the two paths at Klay Wa. They put landmines on the path we take to go and get food and on the way to the river, so it is not easy for us to go and get food."

"Saw Ba Kyu" (M, 24), internally displaced villager from M– village, Than Daung township 

The SPDC has laid many landmines on the paths which they know are used by displaced villagers to go to their fields, to the larger villages where they must buy rice, or to the rivers where they catch fish and collect water. On March 22 nd 2002, a small party of displaced villagers left their hiding site in Than Daung township to travel to Kler Lah to buy rice. Upon reaching the Klay Loh River, one of the group, a 14 year old boy, was killed after stepping on a landmine. Some of the men dropped their baskets and rushed to the boy's aid. In doing so, one of these men also stepped on a mine. He too was killed outright and another villager, "Saw Sha Lu", was wounded. "Saw Sha Lu" was lucky to survive. His basket on the ground beside him absorbed most of the blast, allowing him to escape with comparatively few shrapnel wounds. The SPDC has sometimes planted a number of mines in the same location with the logic being that those who attempt to help the wounded are also maimed or killed. Scores of landmines have also been planted in the villagers' fields and plantations after the villagers have fled by SPDC Army columns. The villagers, unaware of the presence of these landmines then go to tend to their crops where many villagers are inevitably wounded, maimed, or killed. 

"Recently on March 22nd 2002, our villagers went to Kler Lah to get some food. When we arrived beside the Klay Loh River, some of the people hit the landmines. There were five people who walked before me and there were two people walking behind me. At that time, one of the children stepped on a mine and the mine exploded. I looked at him and I thought that I would go and help him. I took three steps forward and put my basket down so that I could help the child. Another man was following me and another mine exploded beside me. My basket was broken and I was injured. I looked down and saw that I was wounded three times on my leg, twice on my wrist, and once on my head. I was wounded six times altogether."

"Saw Sha Lu" (M, 26), internally displaced villager from K– village, Than Daung township (Interview #173, 3/02)

"Sometimes they tell us that the villagers are their enemies. Sometimes they put landmines on the path where the villagers travel. When we go out, we don't know that there are landmines and we step on the landmines. Recently, on March 22nd 2002, we went to get food from Kler Lah. Since we didn't know anything [about the mines] we walked beside the river. My older brother and one of his friends hit a mine and died. The rest of the people ran away in fear."

"Saw Pee Thay" (M, 33), internally displaced villager from K– village, Than Daung township (Interview #160, 3/02)

"They [SPDC] come here sometimes to the edge of the village to the betelnut plantations. If they see any people while they are patrolling, they will shoot them. Every time that they come here, they shoot people dead. When they came last time they planted landmines. I didn't know about it and I struck one and it blew my leg off. The gunpowder burned my left leg and my right leg was blown off. ... [Prior to this] they arrested me and took me to Kaw Thay Der. They arrested me in my house while I was cooking rice. Four or five of them came in so I could not flee. They released me later and I came back the next morning to look at my betelnut [plantation] at xxxx [village] and I stepped on the landmine. That happened at 8:17 in the morning on March 6 th 2002. It was IB #53 [under the order of] Deputy Battalion Commander Aung Koe Lin [who was responsible for planting the mine]. The SPDC shoot and torture people, so I want to say that they [SPDC] should not plant landmines among the places where the villagers are living. They should not do this because they are supposed to be the government."

"Saw Pwih" (M, 37), internally displaced villager from xxxx village, Tantabin township (Interview #52, 4/02)