Villagers risk arrest and execution to harvest their crops

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Villagers risk arrest and execution to harvest their crops

Published date:
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Despite the heavy presence of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military units across Toungoo District (Taw Oo in Karen), the local mountainous terrain and dense forest has served as cover for displaced communities who seek to evade capture and forced relocation by the Army. As a consequence the area has one of the largest displaced populations in hiding out of anywhere in eastern Burma. Those communities already under consolidated SPDC control face rigid movement restrictions which local authorities dictate through written order documents which they dispatch to the village heads of all relevant communities. Between these two groups are those civilians which live on the peripheries of military authority and confront army patrols only intermittently. Despite order restrictions, many communities in Toungoo District therefore continue to evade military forces; travelling, trading and tending their crops, albeit within an extremely perilous context with the daily threat of arrest and execution should they be spotted by army patrols.

Footnotes

[1] According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in its comprehensive report on contemporary rules of Customary International Humanitarian Law, "The use of starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare is prohibited." See Rule 53, Volume II, Chapter 17, Section A of Customary International Humanitarian Law, ICRC and Cambridge University Press, 2005.

[2] "People have to beg as the situation gets worse in Toungoo District," Kwekalu, September 28th 2007