Abuses since the DKBA and KNLA ceasefires: Forced labour and arbitrary detention in Dooplaya

Pages

You are here

Abuses since the DKBA and KNLA ceasefires: Forced labour and arbitrary detention in Dooplaya

Published date:
Monday, May 7, 2012

In the six months since DKBA Brigade #5 troops under the command of Brigadier-General Saw Lah Pwe ('Na Kha Mwe') agreed to a ceasefire with government forces, and in the four months since a ceasefire was agreed between KNLA and government troops, villagers in Kawkareik Township have continued to raise concerns regarding ongoing human rights abuses, including the arbitrary detention and violent abuse of civilians, and forced labour demands occurring as recently as February 24th 2012. One of the villagers who provided information contained in this report also raised concerns about ongoing landmine contamination in two areas of Kawkareik Township, despite the placing of warning signs in one area in January 2012 and the incomplete removal of some landmines by bulldozer from another area in March 2012. The same villager noted that the remaining landmines, some of which are in a village school compound and in agricultural areas, continue to present serious physical security risks to local villagers, as well as disrupt livelihood activities and children's education.

Footnotes

[1] For the full reports written by three different villagers, published as they were received with only minor edits for clarity and security, see: "Incident Report: Arrest and torture in Dooplaya District, December 2011," KHRG, March 2012 ; "Incident Report: Arbitrary Detention and violent abuse in Dooplaya District, December 2011," KHRG, March 2012 ; and "Incident Report: Dooplaya District, August 2011," KHRG, March 2012.

[2] DKBA forces in Pa'an and Dooplaya districts that refused to transform into Tatmadaw Border Guard battalions and which, in November 2010, began fighting Tatmadaw forces have been variously referred to as DKBA #907, Klo Htoo Baw(Golden Drum), and Brigade #5. Each of these terms refers to different configurations of DKBA units commanded by the brigadier general commonly known as Na Kha Mway, whose real name is Saw Lah Pwe. Na Kha Mway left the KNU/KNLA in 1997 and became the commander of DKBA Battalion #907; in 2007 he was promoted to head four DKBA battalions (#901, #906, #907 and a security battalion) as the commander of the Klo Htoo Baw [Golden Drum] Tactical Command. In May 2009 this unit was reconfigured as DKBA Brigade #5, with Na Kha Mway commanding Battalions #901, 905, 906, 907 and 909; Brigade #5 was active in the Kya-In Seik Kyi, Kawkareik and Myawaddy areas of Dooplaya and Pa'an districts. In September 2011, it was reported that remaining DKBA forces were to be reconfigured into two tactical commands, Klo Htoo Wah and Klo Htoo Lah, and that Na Kha Mway would be the senior commander of these forces. Most recently, in early November 2011, Brigade #5 signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government in which demands for its forces to transform into Border Guard units have been dropped, and the brigade has moved to reestablish its headquarters at Wah Lay, Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District (Sone Seen Myaing, Myawaddy Township); see: "DKBA to accelerate military tactics," The Irrawaddy, September 8th 2011.

[3] Waw Lay village is also called 'Sone Seen Myaing' in Burmese and is located in what is known as Myawaddy Township on Burma government maps. Waw Lay village was a focal point of armed activities during post-election conflict in Dooplaya District in 2011 and 2012, due to the fact that it was the previous base of Brigadier-General Na Kha Mway. Between November 7th 2010 and November 2011 when DKBA signed a ceasefire agreement, KHRG published a total of 24 short updates that dealt with fighting between armed actors, displacement of civilians and human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, detention, and sexual violence in Waw Lay village; see "Displacement Monitoring: Regular updates on protection concerns for villagers in Dooplaya and Pa'an districts and adjacent areas in Thailand," October 2011 . For more on the origins of the post-election conflict and the conclusion of the ceasefire agreement in November 2011, see: "Protection concerns expressed by civilians amidst conflict in Dooplaya and Pa'an districts," KHRG, November 2010 ; and "DKBA Brigade 5 Reaches Ceasefire with Naypyidaw," The Irrawaddy, November 4th 2011.

[4] Demands for the transportation of military rations by the Tatmadaw have also been reported in Toungoo District between November 2011 and February 2012, with five villages being forced to provide a total of 77 motorcycles for rations transport in February 2012 alone. See: "Ongoing forced labour and movement restrictions in Toungoo District", KHRG, March 2012.

[5] Further analysis of implicit and explicit threats backing forced labour demands, as well as 207 written forced labour orders, several of which include explicit threats that villagers would be treated as 'enemies' and 'punished' accordingly for non-compliance, are included in the recent KHRG report Civilian and Military order documents: March 2008 to July 2011, KHRG, October 2011; see particularly Orders #123, #201 and #202.

[6] This is an extract from an incident report written by a villager trained by KHRG to document human rights abuses, based on information provided by a local village head. It was received by KHRG at the end of March and has not yet been processed and published in full on the KHRG website.

[7] This situation update was received by KHRG at the end of March and has not yet been processed and published in full on the KHRG website.

[8] Both villagers were trained by KHRG to document human rights abuses and wrote reports about this incident which have been published in full on the KHRG website; see: "Incident Report: Arrest and torture in Dooplaya District, December 2011," KHRG, March 2012 ; and "Incident Report: Arbitrary detention and violent abuse in Dooplaya District, December 2011," KHRG, March 2012.

[9] Both the researcher conducting the interview and the interviewee used the term 'Kaw Thoo Lei', which refers to Karen State as demarcated by the Karen National Union (KNU). The exact meaning and origin of the term 'Kaw Thoo Lei' is disputed; see: Jonathan Falla. True Love and Bartolomew: Rebels on the Burmese border, Cambridge University Press: 1991.

[10] For the full published report written by this villager, see "Incident Report: Arbitrary detention and violent abuse in Dooplaya District, December 2011," KHRG, March 2012.

[11] For the full published report written by this villager, see: "Incident Report: Arrest and torture in Dooplaya District, December 2011," KHRG, March 2012.

[12] See for example Update No. 54: "Landmines planted near Oo Kreh Htah village", KHRG, February 15th 2011. It should be noted that the difference between the current spelling of 'U Kray Hta', compared with 'Oo Kreh Htah' used in past KHRG reports, follows from the adoption of a new KHRG transliteration key in January 2012, which was developed in cooperation with fourteen local NGOs and CBOs to ensure the consistent spelling of place names.

[13] While it is not clear which actor planted these landmines, in January 2011, a local source in the U Kray Hta area described the DKBA warning villagers that they had planted landmines near U Kray Hta village in order to prevent Tatmadaw troops from accessing the village; see Update No. 54: "Landmines planted near Oo Kreh Htah village", KHRG, February 15th 2011. It should be noted that the difference between the current spelling of 'U Kray Hta', compared with 'Oo Kreh Htah' used in past KHRG reports, follows from the adoption of a new KHRG transliteration key in January 2012, which was developed in cooperation with fourteen local NGOs and CBOs to ensure the consistent spelling of place names.

[14] For example, a villager was killed by a landmine while travelling on an unfamiliar path on the way back from forced portering for Tatmadaw Border Guard troops in January 2011; see "Papun Interview: Saw H---, March 2011," KHRG, February 2012.