Thaton Interview: Daw Ny---, April 2011


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Thaton Interview: Daw Ny---, April 2011

Published date:
Friday, January 27, 2012

This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted during April 2011 in Pa’an Township, Thaton District by a villager trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. The villager interviewed Daw Ny---, who described an incident which occurred in November 2010, during which Tatmadaw Border Guard soldiers fired small-arms at her husband without warning and without attempting to hail him, seriously injuring his leg and necessitating 3,800,000 kyat [US $4,935.06] in medical expenses, which has had a deleterious effect on her family’s financial situation. Daw Ny--- told the villager who conducted this interview that her husband was visited in hospital by government officials investigating the incident but that no compensation or redress was offered. Daw Ny--- also described arbitrary demands for food and money, and the illegal logging of teak trees from A--- village by Border Guard soldiers; she mentioned that the imbalance in local power dynamics between armed soldiers and unarmed villagers deters villagers from attempting to engage and negotiate with perpetrators. Daw Ny--- raised concerns about the lack of livelihoods opportunities, and corresponding food insecurity, for villagers who do not own farmland; she notes that, in spite of these challenges, villagers offer voluntary material support to schoolteachers and often attempt to support their livelihoods by selling firewood or cutting bamboo. Daw Ny--- notes that some villagers choose to seek employment opportunities in larger towns but strongly expresses her unwillingness to move to an urban area, believing that food insecurity would only be exacerbated by a lack of money and an absence of alternative livelihood opportunities.


[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 conducting interviews, villagers are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in eastern Burma, KHRG aims to make all field information received available on the KHRG website once it has been processed and translated, subject only to security considerations. As companion to this, a redesigned website will be released in 2012. In the meantime, KHRG’s most recently-published field information from Thaton District can be found in the Report, "Thaton Situation Update: Thaton Township, August 2011," KHRG, January 2012.

[3] All conversion estimates for the Kyat in this interview 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 January 26th 2012, this unofficial rate of exchange was US $1 = 770 kyat. This figure is used for all calculations above.

[4] In this section of the interview the interviewee refers to herself in the third person as ‘A Daw’, meaning ‘aunt’ in Burmese.

[5] This is a Burmese term, which is used, particularly in rural areas to refer to a traditional event called ‘Thief’s Day’ during which people make jokes and play pranks on each other, like hiding their shoes or other belongings. This event is also called ‘Kyi Ma Noe’ Festival in urban areas and is akin to the Western ‘April Fool’s Day’.

[6] Thaw M’Nah was described as the Battalion Deputy Commander of DKBA Battalion #1 in Brigade #333 in the previous KHRG report "Villagers responses to forced labour, torture and other demands in Thaton District," KHRG, October 2008. As of September 2010, most DKBA Battalions had transformed to Border Guard Battalions within the Tatmadaw command and salary structure, with the notable exception of DKBA Battalion #999, also known as Brigade 5, which re-commenced resistance against government troops in Dooplaya and Pa’an Districts, following the November 2010 election, and subsequently signed a ceasefire agreement in November 2011. See "DKBA Brigade 5 Reaches Ceasefire with Naypyidaw," The Irrawaddy, November 4th 2011.

[7] A viss is a unit of weight equivalent to 1.6 kg. / 3.52 lb.