Situation Update | Pa’an Township, Thaton District (June to October 2011)
The following situation update was written by a villager in Thaton District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security. This update was received along with other information from Thaton District, including six interviews, 21 photographs and photograph notes.
Tatmadaw and Border Guard abuse of civilians in Pa’an Township between June and October 2011
On July 15th 2011, Tatmadaw LIB #220 led by and under the command of Battalion Commander Zaw Win Htun, which is based in S---, T--- and H--- villages, did not let villagers in the area leave their villages. They [the Tatmadaw] did not let villagers go out to look after their cattle or go to their farms. Then they said they will kill any villagers and village heads who contact the Karen National Liberation Army [KNLA], if the KNLA comes and shoots at them.
On July 21st 2011, soldiers under the command of Aung Kyaw Soe, Column #2 and Deputy Battalion Commander of Tatmadaw LIB #215 and Tin Win, a Company Commander of Tatmadaw Border Guard Battalion #1014, forced two villagers [per household] from K---, Y--- and G--- villages to go and clear the road from G--- monastery to the foot of the large limestone outcropping at G---. He ordered two people per household from these three villages to go and clear the road.
On August 5th 2011, Tatmadaw LIB #216 led by Battalion Commander Naing Tin Hla entered W--- army camp and [then] went to E--- village in Bilin Township on August 7th 2011. He forced one person from each household [in E---] to go with his troops and guide them to A---. He ordered villagers to walk between his soldiers [one villager between two soldiers]. Even though the villagers were afraid to go, they had to go.
On August 9th 2011, Tatmadaw Border Guard Battalion #1014 [soldiers] led by Company Commander Tin Win ordered villagers from each village in O--- village tract to porter and stay with them for three months. If a village did not provide porters, the village had to pay 450,000 kyat (US $584). They demanded one porter from L--- village, one porter from N---, one porter from I--- village, two porters from B--- village and two porters from R--- village. They threatened that they would boh [cover something with cloth or plastic] the village heads’ heads [if they did not provide porters or payment]. On August 15th 2011, they also demanded porter fees of 1,200,000 kyat (US $1,558) from Kh---, Ky--- and Ht--- villages, and 600,000 kyat (US $779) from Kw--- and P--- villages.
On August 20th 2011, Tatmadaw Border Guard Battalion #1014 Company Commander Tin Win moved and set up an army camp at H--- village, and forced villagers to go and build the army camp for him. The villages that had to go and build the camp were S---, Hs---, T---, H---, Bp--- and U--- villages. The army camp had to be built by August 24th 2011. The villagers finished building the camp by the date when they had to finish. This Border Guard unit recruited soldiers to increase their strength, so they forced [forcibly recruited] Saw G---’s son, Saw B---, Saw H---, Saw T---, Saw P--- and Saw N--- in H--- village. They also demanded 13 people [recruits] from S---, Hs--- and T--- village. They will pay 35,000 kyat (US $45.45) per month to these people. To recruit new soldiers and pay the new soldiers’ salary, they demanded 2,000,000 kyat (US $2,597) from S--- and 1,000,000 kyat (US $1,298) from Hs--- villages, 1,000,000 kyat from T--- and 4,000,000 kyat (US $5,194) total from Bp--- and U--- villages. Those villages have already paid half [the amount], but they will have to pay it all by August 30th 2011.
The civilians’ situation
The problems that civilians in Pa’an Township have to face are Tatmadaw and Border Guard demands for money, and flooding and destruction of paddy fields [due to flooding]. Within the five months between June to October 2011, villagers have had to pay millions of kyat to the soldiers under the Tatmadaw and Border Guard commanders. Some villagers have had to sell their land and property to pay porter fees and the recruitment fees for new soldiers. This year, there was also heavy rain and flooding for a whole month which caused paddy in the fields to become rotten. Pa’an Township is close to the Salween River. The farms are about 4.5 miles (7 km) away from the river. Most farms there were destroyed and paddy crops died because of the flooding. For this reason, we can say that the villagers will have to face food crisis [shortages] in the coming year.