Papun Situation Update: Lu Thaw Township, March to November 2012

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Papun Situation Update: Lu Thaw Township, March to November 2012

Published date:
Monday, February 25, 2013

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in November 2012 by a community member describing events occurring in Lu Thaw Township, Papun District during the period between July 2012 and November 2012. It describes how the Tatmadaw continues to resupply and repair military infrastructure despite ongoing ceasefire talks with the KNU, as well as make new preparations for gold extraction projects. The Tatmadaw also tried to build relations with civilians by providing free food placed beside vehicle roads, but fears of poisoned food and mistrust prevented the civilians from accepting the food. On March 19th 2012, soldiers from the Tatmadaw LID #66 killed two villagers, 30 year-old Saw K--- and 19 year-old Saw E---, and injured one, 28 year-old Saw N---, when they crossed a road in K'Kyay Hta; the Tatmadaw took the 160,000 kyat that the victims were carrying. The civilians in the internally displaced persons areas still do not dare to show themselves to the Tatmadaw, and continue to monitor troop movement along vehicle roads. The situation update also discusses villagers' concerns regarding the ceasefire, describing how civilians want peace so that they can return to work on their land. Currently, heavy rains in 2011 and crop maladies have caused food security problems for many communities. In response, communities support one another with food transportation and use of traditional medicine cooperatives, which are still developing local involvement and action plans.

Footnotes

[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 fromPapun District can be found in the report, "Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, June 2012," KHRG, October 2012.

[3] 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 community member who wrote this Situation Update and "SPDC" is therefore retained in the translation of this Situation Update.

[4] The ceasefire agreement signed between the KNU and RUM officials on January 12th 2011 in Hpa'an Town was an agreement in principle on '11 key points', to be followed by more in-depth talks after 45 days. Senior KNU officials have since announced that the deadline of 45 days is unlikely to be met; 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 Hpa'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 Hpa'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] The Tatmadaw is the Burma state military.

[6] 'Home guard' or gher der groups have been organized locally in parts of northern Karen State threatened by Tatmadaw operations targeting civilians, and the resulting acute food insecurity. Villagers interviewed by KHRG have reported that gher der were established with the objective of providing security for communities of civilians in hiding, particularly when those communities engage in food production or procurement activities, and when other modes of protection are unavailable. For more on the gher der see: Self-protection under strain: Targeting of civilians and local responses in northern Karen State, KHRG, August 2010, pp.88-95.

[7] As of November 28th 2012, all conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the official market rate of 852 kyat to the 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.

[8] During March and April 2012, the KHRG office field Director visited the area separately from the community member who wrote this report. During that visit, it was reported to KHRG that the home guard members had discovered Saw K--- and Saw H--- on March 9th, but were unable to access their bodies until March 16th, because Tatmadaw soldiers remained in the area where the shooting occurred.

[9] Not only the soldier use walkie-talkies but also the villagers use walkie-talkies to contact one another in order to be able to avoid the Tatmadaw.

[10] Thay ghee waseh is a Karen phrase that directly means “tree and bamboo roots,” but in this situation update thay ghee waseh means traditional medicine.