Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho and Dwe Lo townships, September to December 2012

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Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho and Dwe Lo townships, September to December 2012

Published date:
Friday, March 8, 2013

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in January 2013 by a community member, who describes events occurring in Papun District during December 2012. Specific abuses include arbitrary arrest of a villager by a KNLA officer, Border Guard demands for money, labour, and items, religious discrimination by the Border Guard and a Buddhist monk, violent abuse, looting and movement restrictions through road closures. The community member reports how one KNLA Commander named Saw Hpah Mee arrested and violently abused villager Saw M---, as well as shooting one of his cows, while Saw M--- was travelling to trade cows in Bu Tho Township, on the Thailand-Burma border, but was unaware that the road he used was closed. This report also describes how Border Guard Battalion #1014 soldiers arrested a Muslim villager who was selling his cows on the Thai border, and subsequently looted his money, and how Border Guard Battalion #1013 soldiers forced villagers to work for them and restricting them from trading. Also described in the report is a meeting held on September 10th 2012, during which a Buddhist monk informed villagers of four rules that were created to prohibit Buddhists from interacting with Muslims, which were distributed by the Border Guard. Villagers then reported this to the KNLA and the Tatmadaw, who subsequently held a meeting regarding the rules and explained that religious discrimination should not happen. Details on the incident are published in "Incident Report: Religious discrimination and restrictions in Papun District, September 2012," KHRG, March 2013.

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 from Papun District can be found in the report, "Incident Report: Religious discrimination and restrictions in Papun District," KHRG, March 2013.

[3] KHRG received reports on the activities of Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalion #1014, which has been active along the border of Papun and Thaton Districts. Battalion #1014 is commanded by Major Maung Chit, which is also sometimes spelled Maw Hsee, whom is allegedly to be a part of an advisory committee that oversaw the 2010 transformation of the DKBA into the BGF, and assumed responsibility for business activities for the group. See "The Situation In Karen State After the Elections," EBO (Euro-Burma Office) Analysis Paper No. 1/2011, April 2011. More recently, on August 5th 2012, the KNLA and BGF #1014 engaged in a firefight in Mae Seik village, Papun Township, despite the terms of the ceasefire. KNLA and Government's Militia Fight – Four Soldiers Killed Karen News, August 7th 2012. For additional articles discussing abuses perpetrated by BGF #1014, see these KHRG reports: "Torture and killing in Thaton District," KHRG, October 2012; "Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, received April 2012," KHRG, June 2012; "Papun Interview: Saw T---, August 2011," January 2012; "Thaton Situation Update: June to October 2011," KHRG November 2011; All the Information I've Given You, I faced it myself, KHRG December 2011, page 14.

[4] While the KHRG community member uses the word 'torture' to describe the abuse perpetrated by Border Guard Force and the KNLA soldiers in this report, there is no indication that the soldiers were attempting to extract information from the villagers they were abusing and, therefore, the incidents described in this report are not likely to meet the internationally-accepted definition of torture. However, that the community member chose to use the Karen phrase, 'ta ma er mah ner ta' meaning torture, as opposed to ma p'yweh, meaning 'abuse', or ma na ma hphaw, meaning 'torment' to describe the event, suggests the severity of the incident justifies this classification. The incident regarding violent abuse by the KNLA commander is also described in, "Incident Report: Violent abuse in Papun District, October 2012," KHRG, April 2013.

[5] As of February 13th 2013, all conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 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] Commander Maung Chit's name is sometimes spelled "Maw Hsee." Commander Maung Chit is not to be confused with Maung Chit Thu, who is a top-tier officer in the Border Guard, while Maung Chit is the commander for Battalion #1014. Maung Chit Thu is part of the intelligence division for the Border Guard and not much is currently known about his actual role in the command structure. In December 2012, KHRG verified that these two names do not refer to the same officer. For more information on Maung Chit Thu's authority, see this KHRG report: "Pa'an Situation Update: June to August 2011," KHRG, October 2011.

[7] Thara is a Karen term used for any teacher, pastor, or any person to whom one wishes to show respect.

[8] The community member who wrote this report is referring to themself in the third-person.

[9] In a separate incident report, this community member documented testimony from a Saw W---, a Muslim man from M--- village. Saw W--- reported that Company Commander Saw Bah Yoh, from Border Guard Battalion #1013, was responsible for having the leaflets posted. See "Incident Report: Religious discrimination and restrictions in Papun District," KHRG, March 2013.