Toungoo Situation Update: Tantabin and Than Daung Townships, September to December 2012

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Toungoo Situation Update: Tantabin and Than Daung Townships, September to December 2012

Published date:
Friday, March 1, 2013

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in February 2013 by a community member describing events occurring in Tantabin and Than Daung Townships in Toungoo District, during the period between September and December 2012. Specifically, it describes how over 40,000 acres of villagers plantations were flooded due to Toh Boh Dam operations in October 2012, and how the Shwe Swan Aye Company provided compensation to some, but not all, of the affected villagers. This report also describes how, on September 3rd 2012, Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalions #124, #546 and #084, based in Ba Yint Naung Camp, confiscated villagers' lands, forcing villagers in the Than Daung Gyi area to sell their lands to the battalion. The community member reported that the Tatmadaw battalions also continue to send rations, rotate troops and conduct training every four months; in one incident, heavy and small weapons were fired during a military exercise, landing in and damaging villagers' plantations. Villagers' livelihood problems caused by flooding of land from the dam, as well as villagers concerns about the ceasefire process in the context of ongoing Tatmadaw military operations, are also described.

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, "Toungoo Interview: Saw H---, April 2011," KHRG, September 2012.

[3] For more information on the impact and construction of the Toh Boh dam, see "Toungoo Interview: Saw H---, April 2011," KHRG, September 2012; see also "Photo Set: More than 100 households displaced from Toh Boh Dam construction site in Toungoo," KHRG, August 2012. The Toh Boh dam is also a project under observation in an upcoming KHRG thematic report, which will be published in March 2013, and analyses the trends, collective responses, and consequences related to land confiscation and development issues in Karen areas.

[4] Here, the community member means that the villagers did not want to be paid for the land, but wanted replacement land instead.

[5] As of February 4th 2012, all conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the official market rate of 856 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.

[6] In an interview conducted by a KHRG staff member in January 2013 and received at the same time as this situation update, a villager describes how the firing of heavy and small weapons into villagers' plantations caused a fire, which spread and destroyed the plantations.

[7] The ceasefire agreement signed between the KNU and RUM officials on January 12th 2011 in Pa'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 had since announced that the deadline of 45 days was 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 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.

[8] For more information on Tatmadaw resupply and troop deployment since the January 2012 ceasefire, see these KHRG reports: "Torture and killing in Thaton District," KHRG, October 2012; "Tatmadaw soldiers fire at four villagers carrying rice, order forced labour in Toungoo District," KHRG, July 2012; and "Sustained Tatmadaw resupply operations in Thaton, Nyaunglebin and Papun during ceasefire," KHRG, May 2012.