Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, received April 2012


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Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, received April 2012

Published date:
Sunday, June 10, 2012

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in April 2012 by a community member trained by KHRG describing events occurring in Bu Tho Township, Papun District, prior to April 2012. It contains updated information concerning an increase in Tatmadaw and Border Guard military activity since the January 2012 ceasefire agreement with the KNU, including more frequent transportation of rations, building materials and weapons, and an increase in troop deployment. It describes how Tatmadaw LIB #341, #434, #340, and #642 have established permanent bases by the Papun vehicle road, and how troops reportedly remain stationed at numerous bases along the Thailand-Burma border. Land confiscation for infrastructure projects and the construction of military bases and plantations is highlighted as a significant issue, and continued natural resource extraction also serves to limit the amount of cultivatable land available. State-led development projects at the village level are also cited as contributing to land confiscation as a result of demands for land from government officials involved. Information is also provided on the construction of a new village in Meh Pree Township by a monk in command of approximately 20-30 soldiers. Villagers continue to face demands for food and goods, such as thatch shingles, and demands for forced labour. Significantly, demands for money, or for villagers to serve as soldiers and guides or to perform sentry duty, has reportedly ceased, and there has been a reduction in travel restrictions since January 2012. Some limited landmine clearance is reported to have occurred after villagers discussed the problem with a Tatmadaw officer. Other villagers have adapted to the reduction of suitable farmland by trading livestock and transporting food to sell. Villagers also refused to comply with demands for land in exchange for electricity, and confronted officials over the issue.


[1] KHRG trains community members 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, community members 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, "Sustained Tatmadaw resupply operations in Thaton, Nyaunglebin and Papun during ceasefire," KHRG, May 2012.

[3] These photos were previously published by KHRG in May 2012 in the report, Uncertain Ground: Landmines in eastern Burma.

[4] As of June 10th 2012, all conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on a rate of 818 kyat to US $1. This reflects new measures taken by Burma's central bank on April 2nd 2012 to initiate a managed float of the kyat, thus replacing the previous fixed rate of 6.5 kyat to US $1.

[5] This is an opinion expressed by the community member who wrote this report; it does not reflect KHRG's organizational understanding of the scope or scale of sexual violence or other abuse against women in eastern Burma. Community members trained by KHRG have previously gathered detailed evidence of specific incidents of rape and sexual violence by Tatmadaw soldiers; see Displacement Monitoring Update No. 39: "Body of unidentified naked woman found near Waw Lay village," KHRG, January 2011; Displacement Monitoring Update No. 48: "Interviews with Tatmadaw deserters confirm earlier reported incidents of abuse and general threats to civilians," KHRG January 2011. During 2011, KHRG received reports of rape and sexual violence requiring further confirmation from Papun, Thaton, Toungoo and Tenasserim districts. Note that in all of these instances, KHRG was unable to confirm the date of the incident in question. It is important to note that the majority of community members trained by KHRG to document human rights abuses are men, who face inherent social and cultural constraints in gathering detailed evidence of rape or sexual violence. The Karen Women's Organization (KWO) has released reports detailing incidents of sexual violence in many of the same areas of eastern Burma in which KHRG works; see most recently Walking amongst sharp knives: The unsung courage of Karen women village chiefs in conflict areas of Eastern Burma, KWO, February 2010.

[6] It should be noted that the date displayed in bottom right corner of the four photographs above of '2037/02/02' is clearly an error; the correct date on which the photographs were taken is January 11th 2012, as stated in the photo caption.