Civilian and Military order documents: August 2009 to August 2012

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Civilian and Military order documents: August 2009 to August 2012

Published date:
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This report contains a total of 58 translated copies of order documents issued by military and civilian officials of Burma's central government, as well as 'Border Guard' battalions, to village heads in eastern Burma between August 2009 and August 2012, including 44 order documents issued since February 2011. To provide additional context for forced labour incidents documented by KHRG community members during 2012, original excerpts from 23 pieces of KHRG field information are also included. These documents cumulatively serve as primary evidence of ongoing exploitative local governance in rural Burma. During 2012, systemic forms of forced labour consisted of military camp maintenance or building; portering; labour for community or development projects; and agricultural labour. This report thus supports the continuing testimonies of villagers regarding regular demands for labour, money, food and other supplies to which their communities are subject to by local civilian and military authorities. The order documents collected here include demands for attendance at meetings; the provision of money and food; the production and delivery of thatch, bamboo and other materials; forced labour as messengers and porters for the military; forced labour on road construction and repair; the provision of information on individuals, households and non-state armed groups; and the imposition of movement restrictions. In almost all cases, demands were uncompensated and backed by implicit or explicit threats of violence or other punishments for non-compliance. Most demands articulated in the orders presented in this report involved some element of forced labour in their implementation.

Footnotes

[1] Pursuant to its obligations under Art.26 of the ILO Forced Labour Convention, the Burma government is obligated to apply the ban on forced labour 'to the territories placed under its sovereignty, jurisdiction, protection, suzerainty, tutelage or authority'. See ILO Forced Labour Convention 1930, Art. 26.

[2] 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 Force formed at Atwinkwinkalay region, Myawady Township, Kayin State," New Light of Myanmar, September 2010.

[3] For descriptions of land confiscation since February 2012 in Toungoo District related to the construction of Toh Boh Dam, see "Toungoo Interview: Saw H---, April 2011," KHRG, September 2012 and "Photo Set: More than 100 households displaced from Toh Boh Dam construction site in Toungoo," KHRG, April 2012. For a description of the destruction of agricultural land that would result from the Tavoy (Dawei) deep seaport in Mergui-Tavoy District, see "Complaint letter to Burma government about value of agricultural land destroyed by Tavoy highway," KHRG, July 2012. For descriptions of potential large-scale flooding and displacement of villagers that would result from the construction of a dam in Papun District, see "Photo Set: Villagers register concerns about proposed Hatgyi Dam," KHRG, June 2012. For descriptions of exploitative demands for food and the large-scale confiscation of land in Papun District, see "Papun Situation Update: Dweh Loh Township, January to March 2012," KHRG, May 2012; and "Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, Received April 2012," KHRG, May 2012. For details about forced labour on military agricultural projects in Pa'an District, see: "Forced labour and extortion in Pa'an District," KHRG, June 2012. For details about the forced transportation of military supplies and functional sweeping for landmines by civilians during road-building in Toungoo District, see: "Ongoing forced labour and movement restrictions in Toungoo District," KHRG, March 2012. For a description of rations transport in areas known to be heavily mined, see: "Abuses since the DKBA and KNLA ceasefires: Forced labour and arbitrary detention in Dooplaya," KHRG May 2012. For a description of the forced production of building materials in Thaton District, see: "Forced labour in Bilin Township," KHRG, April 2012.

[4] See point six of the eleven-point preliminary ceasefire agreement signed between the KNU and RUM officials on January 12th 2012 in Pa'an Town; see: "KNU ceasefire meeting with government behind schedule," Karen News, February 23rd 2012. Meanwhile, as-yet-unpublished KHRG information received on February 19th 2012, suggests that there have been clashes between government forces and non-state armed groups in Pa'an District in February 2012 and that recent re-supply operations carried out by Tatmadaw forces in Nyaunglebin District exceeded the amount of supplies usually sent, and included heavy artillery. Local media sources have also reported ongoing fighting in Pa'an and Nyaunglebin Districts since January 12th 2012; see: "Killings and attacks between DKBA and BGF drives villagers from their homes," Karen News, February 24th 2012; "Ceasefires, Continued Attacks and a Friendly Encounter Between Enemies," Free Burma Rangers, February 3rd 2012.

[5] For the full text of the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between the ILO and the RUM, see "ILO Governing Body "Developments concerning the question of the observance by the Government of Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention," 1930 (No. 29)" Geneva, 313th Session, GB.313/INS/6(Add.), March 2012, Appendix 2.

[6] This was described by ILO officials in statements reported by media groups, see "Soldiers using forced labour to be prosecuted," Democratic Voice of Burma, May 9th 2012.

[7] This is an extract from the ILO, Provisional Record, 101st Session, Geneva, May–June 2012, Additional agenda item, Report of the Officers of the Governing Body, para 14. See also ILO Convention 29 (1930), which calls for the elimination of all forms of forced labour in signatory states.

[8] See: ILO, Provisional Record, 101st Session, Geneva, May–June 2012, Additional agenda item, Report of the Officers of the Governing Body, para 16.

[9] "The Mission was particularly encouraged to hear that the Joint Strategy would be endorsed by the government's cabinet, as this reinforces the elimination of forced labour as a common endeavour to be undertaken by all public authorities. It is also important that the Joint Strategy be widely publicized to ensure the broadest public awareness." See:ILO, Provisional Record, 101st Session, Geneva, May–June 2012, Additional agenda item, Report of the Officers of the Governing Body, para 16.

[10] "The Mission was informed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services that he had issued instructions to all units on 21 March 2012 to the effect that the prohibition of forced labour by law applied to the military; that the exaction of forced labour would not be tolerated and would be punished pursuant to article 374 of the Penal Code; that non-military personnel, including convicts, would not be used for forced labour in conflict zones; and that the military must engage non-military personnel in non-conflict zones for purposes such as construction or portering, by way of freely engaged and paid employment." See: ILO, Provisional Record, 101st Session, Geneva, May–June 2012, Additional agenda item, Report of the Officers of the Governing Body, para 19.

[11] KHRG research areas include some of all or parts of government-delineated Kayin and Mon states and Bago and Tanintharyi regions. The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor has noted that Kayin state and Bago region are suspected to contain the heaviest landmine contamination in Burma and collectively have the highest number of recorded victims. The Monitor also identified suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) in every township in government-delineated Kayin state; in Thanbyuzayat, Thaton, and Ye townships in Mon state; in Kyaukkyi, Shwekyin, and Tantabin townships in Bago region; and in Bokpyin, Dawei, Tanintharyi, Thayetchaung and Yebyu townships of Tanintharyi region; see Country profile: Myanmar Burma, ICBL Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. Similarly, Dan Church Aid (DCA) which currently operates mine-risk education (MRE) programs and a prosthetic clinic in eastern Burma, has noted that, while verifiable data is difficult to gather due to infrequency of access, Burma experiences some of the highest mine accident rates in the world. DCA also notes that no de-mining programs are currently being pursued as new mines continue to be deployed by both government and NSAGs; see DCA Mine Action: Burma/Myanmar.

[12] In April 2012, the ILO affirmed the conclusion that forced labour attends increased landmine risks in a meeting in Yangon with KHRG. For further explanation, see the recent KHRG thematic report Uncertain Ground: Landmines in eastern Burma, KHRG, ay 2012, pp. 55 – 59.

[13] "Report of Commission of Inquiry reveals widespread and systematic forced labour in Myanmar (Burma)," International Labour Organisation (ILO), August 20th 1998, ILO/98/32.

[14] For the full text of the MOU signed by inter alia the Deputy Minister of Defence Aung Thaw, see ILO Governing Body 313th Session, Geneva, 15– 30 March 2012GB.313/INS/6 (Add.).

[15] See, Andrew Selth, Burma's Armed Forces: Power Without Glory, Norwalk: Eastbridge, 2002 p. 136. See also, Mary Callahan, "Of kyay-zu and kyet-zu: the military in 2006," pp. 36-53 in Monique Skidmore and Trevor Wilson (eds.),Myanmar: The State, Community and the Environment, Canberra: Asia Pacific Press, 2007 p. 46.

[16] See, Andrew Selth, Burma's Armed Forces: Power Without Glory, Norwalk: Eastbridge, 2002 p. 136. See also, Mary Callahan, "Of kyay-zu and kyet-zu: the military in 2006," pp. 36-53 in Monique Skidmore and Trevor Wilson (eds.),Myanmar: The State, Community and the Environment, Canberra: Asia Pacific Press, 2007 p. 46.

[17] For more on the relationship between abuses such as forced labour and food insecurity, see Food crisis: The cumulative impact of abuse in rural Burma, KHRG, April 2009. For more on the relationship between abuses such as forced labour and displacement, see Abuse, Poverty and Migration: Investigating migrants' motivations to leave home in Burma, KHRG, June 2009. See also, "Central Papun District: Village-level decision-making and strategic displacement," KHRG, August 2010.

[18] Noted in Richard Horsey, Ending Forced Labour in Myanmar: Engaging a pariah regime. New York: Routledge, 2011, pp.15 fn.39.