Toungoo Situation Update: April 2011

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Toungoo Situation Update: April 2011

Published date:
Monday, June 13, 2011

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in May 2011 by a villager describing events occurring in Toungoo District, during the period between 2006 and April 2011. It contains updated information concerning military activity, specifically the replacement of Tatmadaw battalions under MOC #7 with MOC #9. It also details the following human rights issues: movement restrictions, including road closures and travel restrictions, and the requirement that villagers purchase permission documents to work and travel; restrictions on the transport of medicine and staple food items to civilian areas; forced labour, including portering, production of building materials, messenger duty and road maintenance; the use of civilians' vehicles to sweep for landmines; civilian injuries resulting from the use of landmines by the Tatmadaw and non-state armed groups; and the prohibition of Karen language education in government schools. This situation update also documents villagers' responses to abuses, including negotiation with Tatmadaw officers, false compliance, and lying to avoid complying with forced labour demands. This report also discusses concerns regarding limited access to health care; limited access to quality education for children; and food insecurity due to abnormal weather and limited availability of essential 

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains villagers in eastern Burma to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When writing situation updates, villagers are encouraged to summarise recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important, and present their opinions or perspective on abuse and other local dynamics in their area.

[2] When these documents have been processed and translated by KHRG and when sufficient information has been compiled and analysed, a full Field Report on the situation in Toungoo District will be available on the KHRG website. Until then, KHRG's most recent analysis of the situation in Toungoo District can be found in the recent Field Report, "Attacks on cardamom plantations, detention and forced labour in Toungoo District," KHRG, May 2011.

[3] Ma daw ma gka refers to when community members cooperate on agricultural tasks such as planting, rotating from one household's agricultural project to the next.

[4] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this bulletin are based on the fluctuating informal exchange rate rather than the government's official fixed rate of 6.5 kyat to US $1. As of June 9th 2011, this unofficial rate of exchange was US $1 = 782 kyat.

[5] The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) was officially 'dissolved' on March 30th 2011; see: "Mission Accomplished as SPDC 'dissolved'," Myanmar Times, April 4-10 2011. The term 'SPDC' was used by the villager who wrote this situation update, and is therefore retained in this translation.

[6] Dtah gka bpor, while an effective way to stretch declining food stores, is also a dish traditionally eaten by many Karen in upland areas. When food stores are limited households, and entire communities, may eat a basic dtah gka bpor or may klaw, a more basic thin rice gruel mixed with salt until more food can be procured.

[7] 'Elephant disease' refers to elephantiasis, also called lymphatic filariasis, which is a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes that causes the skin and tissue of the lower half of the body to swell and thicken.

[8] KHRG published a report about these incidents in October 2010. For more information, see "Villagers injured by landmines, assisted by neighbours in southern Toungoo," KHRG, October 2010.