Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, May to June 2011


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Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, May to June 2011

Published date:
Friday, February 3, 2012

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in August 2011 by a villager describing events occurring in Bu Tho Township, Papun District, between May and June 2011. It contains detailed information about demands by Border Guard Battalion #1013 troops for a total of 10,400,000 kyat (US $13,506.49) from 65 villages, each of which was ordered to pay a share of the total in lieu of providing villagers to serve as unpaid porters. The villager who wrote this report also details villagers’ concerns regarding excessive fees for school attendance, abnormal rains leading to damage to crops and subsequent food insecurity, as well as the collection of arbitrary fees by an organisation that purported to assist families to pay funeral and burial costs, but which subsequently disbanded. The villager who wrote this report points repeatedly to ongoing arbitrary taxation by public officials and expresses villagers’ frustrations at what they perceive to be a lack of material change at the village-level in eastern Burma since the November 2010 elections.


[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] 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 Papun District can be found in the Report, "Papun Interview: Saw T---, August 2011," KHRG, January 2012.

[3] The villager who wrote this report chose, in several cases, to include the Burmese name of a village after the Karen name in the original report. This has been retained to preserve accuracy in the translation.

[4] The villager who wrote this report used the phrases ‘USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] government’ or ‘Thein Sein government’ to refer to the current nominally-civilian government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (RUM) that came to power on March 31st 2011; see "The New Light of Myanmar: President U Thein Sein delivers inaugural address to Pyidaungsu Hluttaw," BurmaNet News, March 31st 2011.

[5] While it is not clear to which incident the villager who wrote this report is referring, a previously-published report submitted to KHRG in April 2011 by a villager trained to document human rights abuses in Lu Pleh Township, Pa’an District described the defection of Tatmadaw Border Guard soldiers in February 2011 to a breakaway faction of the DKBA that had previously refused to transform into Border Guard battalions, and to the KNLA; see: "Pa'an Situation Update: April 2011 ," KHRG, September 2011.

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

[7] Alternate names are included only where explicitly noted by the villager who wrote this report.

[8] This name translates directly as ‘Pain Writing Help Brother Crime Teams’; according to a KHRG researcher who spoke to the villager who wrote this report, this organization purported to assist people with medical and funeral costs, and requested donations from local villagers in order to do so.

[9] In Karen, the Burmese phrases Na Ah Pa (SPDC) and Na Wa Ta (SLORC) are commonly used to refer to the Burmese government or to Burma’s state army, the Tatmadaw. Many older Karen villagers who were accustomed to using the phrase Na Wa Ta (SLORC) before 1997 continue to use that phrase, even though the SLORC has not officially existed since 1997. Similarly, despite the official dissolution of the SPDC in March 2011, many Karen villagers continue to use the phrase Na Ah Pa (SPDC) to refer to the Burmese government or to the Tatmadaw; see: "Mission Accomplished as SPDC ‘dissolved’," Myanmar Times, April 4-10th 2011. The term Na Ah Pa was used by the villager who wrote this report and "SPDC" is therefore retained in the translation of this report.