Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, July to October 2012

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Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, July to October 2012

Published date:
Thursday, April 11, 2013

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in November 2012 by a community member describing events occurring in Papun District, during the period between July 2012 to October 2012. It specifically discusses forced labour, torture, the activity of major armed groups in the Bu Tho Township area, including the KNLA, DKBA, Tatmadaw and BGF, as well as villagers' healthcare, education and livelihood problems. The report describes how BGF Battalion #1014, led by Commander Maw Hsee, continues to demand materials and forced labour from villagers in order to build army camps. The report also provides details about a 50-year-old L--- villager, named Maung P---, who was arrested and tortured by the Tatmadaw Military Operation Command Column #2, which is under Battalion #44 and commanded by Hay Tha and Aung Thu Ra, because he asked other villagers to deliver a letter that the Tatmadaw demanded he deliver. The report includes information about the different challenges villagers face in Burma government and non-government controlled areas, as well as the ways villagers access healthcare from the KNU or the Burma government. According to the community member, civilians continue to face problems with their livelihood, which are caused by BGF and DKBA activities, but are improving since the ceasefire; also described are problems faced by villagers caused by natural factors, such as unhealthy crops and flooding. In order to improve crop health, farmers are using traditional remedies, but the community member mentions that those remedies do not address the problems well. Moreover, this report mentions how villagers pursue alternative livelihoods during intervals between farming and to cope with food shortages, including logging and selling wood.

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 2013. In the meantime, KHRG's most recently-published field information from Papun District can be found in the report, "Incident Report: Violent abuse in Papun District, October 2012," KHRG, April 2013.

[3] Loh ah pay is a Burmese term now commonly used in reference to forced labour, although traditionally referring to voluntary service for temples or the local community, not military or state projects

[4] Border Guard battalions of the Tatmadaw were established in 2010, and they are composed mostly of soldiers from former non-state armed groups, such as older constellations of the DKBA, which have formalized ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government and agreed to transform into 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. For more information, see "DKBA officially becomes Border Guard Force," Democratic Voice of Burma, August 2010.

[5] KHRG has reported on the abuses committed by Battalion # 1014, including a June 2012 attack on two elder villagers who were travelling to provide money to one of their daughters who was giving birth at the time. Both villagers were severely beaten, and one died at the site of the attack. See "Torture and killing in Thaton District," KHRG, October 2012. See also, "Situation Update: Pa'an Township, Thaton District, June to October 2011," KHRG, November 2011.

[6] Commander Maw Hsee's name is sometimes spelled "Maung Chit."

[7] Although the community member wrote the unit numbers in this order, the Tatmadaw hierarchy is that Column #2 is a part of LIB #102, which is itself a part of LID #44.

[8] As of November 27th 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.

[9] For more information on the 2012 ceasefire between the KNU and the Government of the Union of Myanmar, see the following KHRG publications: "Steps towards peace: Local participation in the Karen ceasefire process," KHRG, November 2012; and "Safeguarding human rights in a post-ceasefire eastern Burma," KHRG, January 2012.