Situation Update | Bu Tho Township, Papun District (January to February 2013)
The following situation update was written by a community member in Papun District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security. This report was received along with other information from Papun District, nine interviews, one other situation update and 28 photographs.
The Human Rights abuses that happened in Meh Mweh village tract and Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract from January 28th 2013 to February 14th 2013
The human rights abuses that are going to be described [in this report] happened during [the period between] January 28th and February 14th 2013. The abuses happened largely in Mu Traw [Papun] District, Bu Tho Township, from Meh Mweh village tract to Day Wah village tract, [and in] Kyaw Pah village tract, Meh P'Ree village tract and Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract.
The first human rights abuse that is going to be reported is forced labour. The perpetrator that clearly committed the abuse is BGF [Border Guard Force] Battalion #1013 Battalion Commander Saw Hla Kyaing and BGF #1014 Battalion Commander, Saw Maung Chit.
Either to build their army camp or to build the stage for a stage show, to get attention and support from the villagers, the BGF #1013 and #1014 ordered the villagers to do forced labour such as [the collection of] bamboo poles and thatch shingles.
For the project of building a bridge that is called Htee Lah Eh Hta, which will cross the Yunzalin River, close to Noh Hta village tract, they are using the [Buddhist] religion and ordered the villagers for forced labour. They ordered each family member from each household in five different village tracts [to perform work for the construction of the bridge]. The five village tracts are Meh Mweh village tract, Day Wah village tract, Kyaw Pah village tract, Meh P'Ree village tract and Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract. The person who leads the project is U Thuzana who is the presiding monk of Myaing Gyi Ngu.
The recent human rights abuses that are currently happening are:
- BGF #1013 and #1014 order the villagers to serve as set tha everyday.
- BGF #1013 and #1014 order thatch shingles from the villagers.
- BGF #1013 and #1014 order the villagers to cut bamboo poles for them.
- The presiding monk of Myaing Gyi Ngu [U Thuzana] forces the villagers to build the bridge. These are the human rights abuses that currently occur.
If we have to describe the abuses specifically, since Bo [Major] Htun Hla from BGF #1013 and Corporal Saw Nyunt Thein from BGF #1014 came with his soldiers into L--- village until now, the date of this report; they have been ordering two villagers per day in shifts to serve as set tha. Sometimes, the villagers have to perform sentry duties in their army camp and, also while doing that, they have to cook, find firewood, carry water and search for vegetables for them [BGF #1013 and #1014 soldiers]. They also have to carry bullets and pots for the BGF soldiers when they are travelling.
After travelling like that, now the season is getting close to the raining [monsoon] season, so BGF soldiers want to reinforce their roof. To do that, they need thatch shingles, so they forcibly collected them from the villagers. The one very clear example of forcible collection of thatch shingles is that: BGF #1014 Corporal Saw Nyunt Thein ordered 500 thatch shingles from each village including S--- village, T--- village and H--- village, which are in Meh P'Ree village tract, and from M--- village in Kyaw Pah village tract on February 1st 2013. Until now (February 16th 2013), they are still ordering it.
Likewise, on December 16th 2012, BGF #1013 Battalion Commander Saw Htoo Loo ordered M--- villagers to cut 100 bamboo poles for them, and we were told about this by the M--- village head.
Moreover, on January 27th 2013, there was an incident of forced labour mixed with religion that happened in Bu Tho Township, P--- village, which is close to Yunzalin River. In order to be able to cross the river, they [workers under U Thuzana] started constructing Htee Lah Eh Hta Bridge on January 27th 2013. To construct the bridge, five to ten people from each village will have to go and work seven days a week in shifts. In order to complete this bridge project in three years, they [villagers] will have to go on forced labour duty everyday, whether they are free or not. The villagers that have to do forced labour are from Meh Mweh village tract, Day Wah village tract, Kyaw Pah village tract, Meh P'Ree village tract and Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract. Every villager including men, women and children from those village tracts will have to go for forced labour. Until now, February 16th 2013, the villagers still have to go for forced labour in shifts.
We are told that the person who currently leads the bridge construction project is the Myaing Gyi Ngu monk. The human rights abuses are still happening in so many different ways. It is because the villagers who stay in the area do not have an understanding of their own rights and human rights, as well as they also do not know how to protect their own rights. Only if the villagers know how to stop the abuses by showing their strength and unity, the abuses problem can be solved. The human rights abuses will continue happening if the villagers knowledge is not improving.