The Ongoing Oppression of Thaton District: Forced Labour, Extortion, and Food Insecurity

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The Ongoing Oppression of Thaton District: Forced Labour, Extortion, and Food Insecurity

Published date:
Friday, July 7, 2006

Thaton District suffers some of the heaviest SPDC control of all seven of the Karen districts. Most of the villagers in this region already live under direct SPDC control. In other districts further north where their control is not so extensive, the SPDC is mounting a massive offensive against civilian villagers with the intent of making the situation in those areas more closely resemble that which is already present in Thaton District. Villagers in Thaton District are systematically exploited for forced labour and extortion by all of the numerous armed groups operating in the district. The SPDC and the DKBA stand out as the worst offenders: every year villagers are ordered to serve as porters for the military, repair the roads which now cross the district, and supply vast quantities of bamboo and roofing thatch to the SPDC and the DKBA which is then sold for profit, none of which ever filters back down to the villagers. The villagers are struggling under the relentless demands. Many are no longer able to acquire enough to eat. Yet even under such extreme totalitarian control, troops continue to be moved into the district, further tightening the noose around the necks of the villagers.

Footnotes

[1] Known in Karen as the Khoh Loh Kloh, Bway Loh Kloh, Baw Naw Kloh, and Bu Loh Kloh respectively.

[2] See for example Civilians as Targets (KHRG #2006-C1, May 19th 2006) and Without Respite: Renewed attacks on villages and internal displacement in Toungoo District (KHRG #2006-02, June 13th 2006).

[3] See: Karen Human Rights Group. Surviving in Shadow: Widespread Militarisation and the Systematic Use of Forced Labour in the Campaign for Control of Thaton District(KHRG #2006-01, January 17th 2006).

[4] Free Burma Rangers. "Burma Army tortures villagers and burns farms in Thaton District, West-Central Karen State", 12/5/06. Received by email. See www.freeburmarangers.org.

[5] Free Burma Rangers. "Burma Army attacks displace over 100 villagers in Thaton District, Western Karen State, Burma", 3/6/06. Received by email. See www.freeburmarangers.org.

[6] In a previously published report, KHRG noted that one basket (25 kgs. / 55 lbs.) of rice, comprised of two tins, cost 5,500 Kyat in Bilin township in March 2003. One tin therefore cost approximately 2,750 Kyat; see "Food Security" in Surviving in Shadow: Widespread Militarisation and the Systematic Use of Forced Labour in the Campaign for Control of Thaton District (KHRG #2006-01, January 17th 2006).

[7] As of June 30th 2006, US$1 = 1,325 Kyat

[8] The BPHWT are able to access and distribute medicines to villages and internally displaced communities in Bilin township, as are a handful of other Karen relief organisations.