Forced labour and extortion in Pa'an District


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Forced labour and extortion in Pa'an District

Published date:
Friday, June 22, 2012

During March, April and May 2012, residents of five village tracts in Pa'an District were ordered to perform forced labour without payment and pay arbitrary fees in lieu of forced labour and for damage to crops by animals. Villagers from Htee Hpoh Kyaw, Mya P'Deh and Noh Ta Pweh village tracts in T'Nay Hsah Township were ordered to cultivate land for Tatmadaw and Border Guard troops, while T'Kaw Bee village tract residents were ordered to transport building materials from Kawkareik town and perform forced labour building a water well for the DKBA. Most recently, in May 2012, residents of Htee Wah Blaw village tract were ordered to pay a total of 600,000 kyat (US $733.50) in lieu of sending six villagers to serve as porters for Border Guard troops.


[1] Further information on land confiscation and forced labour ordered by Commander Dih Dih can be found in "Pa'an Situation Update: T'Nay Hsah Township Sept 2012," KHRG, May 2012 , and, "Pa'an Situation Update: Nabu Township September 2011 to January 2012," KHRG May 2012.

[2] Border Guard battalions of the Tatmadaw were established in 2010; they are composed mostly of soldiers from former non-state armed groups, such as older constellations of the DKBA, that concluded ceasefires with the Burmese government and agreed to transform into Border Guard battalions within the Tatmadaw. Border Guard battalions are assigned four digit battalion numbers, whereas regular Tatmadaw infantry or light infantry battalions are identified by two or three digit battalion numbers; "DKBA officially becomes Border Guard Force" Democratic Voice of Burma, August 2010 , and, "Exploitation and recruitment under the DKBA in Pa'an District," KHRG, June 2009.

[3] As of April 5th 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.

[4] This incident is also referred to in one as-yet-unpublished situation update that KHRG has on file. 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 Pa'an District can be found in the interview "Pa'an Interview: Saw Bw---, September 2011," KHRG, June 2012.

[5] While Tatmadaw and DKBA units have for years operated together, this operational hierarchy became formalised with the DKBA's transformation into a 'Border Guard Force' under control of the Tatmadaw and containing a fixed number quota of Tatmadaw officers. This transformation dates to at least May 2009, when commanding officers stated in high-level meeting of DKBA officers that the DKBA would transform itself into a 'Border Guard Force.' Leaked minutes from the May 2009 meeting are retained by KHRG on file. Ceremonies attended by Tatmadaw commanders officially announced the transformation of large portions of the DKBA into Border Guard Forces in September 2010; see, for example: "Border Guard Forces of South-East Command formed in Paingkyon of Kayin State," New Light of Myanmar, August 22nd 2010; and "Border Guard Force formed at Atwinkwinkalay region, Myawady Township, Kayin State," New Light of Myanmar, August 25th 2010. For further background on the formation of Border Guard battalions in Pa'an District, see also "Exploitation and recruitment under the DKBA in Pa'an District," KHRG, June 2009.

[6] The DKBA was formed in December 1994, led by Monk U Thuzana and with the help and support of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which was the name of the Military Government in Burma at that time. For more information on the Formation of the DKBA, see "Inside the DKBA," KHRG, March 1996.