Situation Update | Hpa-an Township, Thaton District (January to June 2012)
The following situation update was written by a community member in Thaton 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 Thaton District, including five incident reports, five interviews and 139 photographs.
This report is written by a community member who works in his own community and it is written about his community situation, his experience, surveys and what he faced. Upon the incidents that occurred in the villages, they were surveyed, and after confirming them carefully, they were written down. There are three main [categories of] information, and they are:
(1) the situation of the civilians;
(2) the situation of the armed groups and the rich people; and
(3) the situation of the changing of the military government
The situation of the villagers' livelihood
In Hpa-an Township, most of the villagers in the area earn their livelihood by farming flat fields, hill fields and by cultivating rubber plantations. Nowadays, as the environment is being emptied [deforested] and the fertility of the land has decreased, the climate is abnormal and it lessens the production of rice farming and cultivation, so that the insufficient food situation, which the civilians are faced with, increases yearly. Because [villagers from] these places do not have any other opportunities to earn money, some of the people leave their young children with old parents, then go and work in other countries, such as Malay [Malaysia], Bangkok, and most of their children become orphans.
The situation of education
In this district [Thaton], there are three types of schools, such as: (1) public schools, (2) mission schools, and (3) government schools. Public schools are built by the public, and the salary for the teachers and the different kinds of [things] required for the students are provided by the public. For the mission schools, the salary for the teachers is provided by the missionaries who go to and fro, but the food and the teachers' requirements are provided by the public. For the government schools, the government chooses the teachers and sends them [to the village], and it also provides the salary for the teachers and the materials for the school. This year , according to a teacher's statement, the Township Education Coordinator from Hpa-an [Township] said that, there should be "Learning, free of charge, in primary schools," in all of the government schools. However, nothing was discussed related to private schools or the mission schools.
Civilians face difficulties related to the income of the rich people
In this year, 2012, starting from January to June, more companies entered our area; the companies are the Shwe Than Lwin Company, Hein Naing Win Company, and Thein Lay Myaing Company. These companies came into the area and confiscated the civilians' land as "uncultivated land," and they planted rubber and teak. Starting in April, the companies, Shwe Than Lwin and Thein Lay Myain, worked with the former DKBA [Democratic Karen Benevolent Army] leaders who are U Tha Htoo, U La Ba, U Kyaw Than, U Hein Soe. These people called themselves [members of] Karen State Democracy and Development Party (KSDDP). The companies gave them [KSDDP] money and they used the Border Guard Battalion #1014 people, Tin Win, Thaw Ma Na and Moe Nyo. Tin Win and Thaw Ma Na, from the Border Guard, went in and confiscated 500 acres of land from V--- village, T--- village, and W--- village. Starting in April until now, they forced the villagers to go and clear the bushes, clear the fields and plant rubber and teak. They did not give any wages for this. Food and all the materials have to be brought by the villagers themselves. For the Hein Naing Win Company, they confiscated the KNU's [Karen National Union] forest reserve, the land that they bought and got documentation from the government. Then, they planted rubber and made the land theirs. We have known and have seen that the companies came into the area by working together with the armed groups, and they have authority over the civilians and abuse the rights of the civilians a lot. Due to the companies' coming and confiscating the land where the villagers work, villagers from T--- village, W--- village and V--- village do not have places to do cultivation or herd their livestock, and it causes a great problem for their livelihood.
On May 29th 2012, the leader of Tha Ka Hsa Hpa (Thaung Kyaun Thu San Kyin Yay) [anti-insurgency group], who is called Moe Nyo, called five villages to a meeting in F--- village, and he said that his soldiers from Tha Ka Hsa Hpa - Thaung Kyaun Thu San Kyin Yay should not get lost, so he gave the order to select five people from the five villages. On the same day, he held a meeting in H--- village and he ordered that if the villagers cannot send the people, they have to give 50,000 kyat (US $58.34) each month. The villages that are forcibly being asked for soldiers are: (1) D---, (2) B---, (3) F---, (4) E---, and (5) H--- villages. The villages are in Kyon Mon Thwe village tract, Hpa-an Township.
In the past, the leader of the people's militia, Moe Nyo, was a leader in the DKBA. In 2010, after the election, the DKBA was transformed into the Border Guard and he came back and lives as he wants and formed Tha Ka Hsa Hpa - Thaung Kyaun Thu San Kyin Yay [anti-insurgency group] from 2011 until now, because he was old and was not registered on the Border Guard age list. The second thing was, because he was not interested much [with the Border Guard]. However, he later worked together with the leaders from DKBA, who are U Tha Htoo Kyaw and U Kyaw Than, and he later became one of the Border Guard advisors. He worked on both sides, to have more benefits for himself.
The villagers from the five villages complained because they have to give their children to Tha Ka Hsa Hpa (Thaung Kyaun Thu San Kyin Yay), or they have to give 50,000 kyat (US $58.34) monthly for one year if they do not send their children. Therefore, the villager who is called Saw S---, reported that there are four or five households that left their village and went to live secretly in another country. The villagers who are left do not want to follow [the order], but they said that they would discuss it together and they would go report [what is written] above. However, some of the villagers felt afraid and they did not accompany their friends [to report it]. Moe Nyo became hostile and, therefore, the village head and some of the villagers [who left to report] had to return.
Changes in the military government's activities
After the 2010 election, because the SPDC [Tatmadaw] military government changed its name [and turned] into a civilian government, we can say that the activities of the battalions under its control became less [and they do not] go and fight with an ethnic [people's] group, the KNU. However, there is no change regarding building [army] camps; it is still the same.
We know that, beginning when the KNU and the military government entered a ceasefire in Hpa-an District area, their [the Tatmadaw's] army group, the Border Guard, which guards the border, they set up their camp in K--- village. Officers Tin Win and Thaw Ma Na, from Battalion #1014, manage this [area].
Since the KNU and the military government entered the ceasefire, each army has known the limited areas [of operation]. The military government permitted them to go no more than 100 miles [yards] away from each side of the main road. However, we know that they do not follow [the boundary] as it is limited, but they violate some of the orders. On June 7th 2012, LIB [Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalion] #211, which is from Ta Paw Camp, came to P--- village, and they did not let the KNU know, so one thing is that it might create conflict.
The military camps that the military government built, and their unit numbers
On January 26th 2012, LID [Light Infantry Division] #44 came and changed places with LID #11 in Pa'nweh Klah camp.
On January 27th 2012, TOC [Tactical Operations Command] #442 came and changed places with TOC #111 in Meh Pray Hkee camp.
On January 28th 2012, TOC #443 came and changed places with TOC #112 in Ka'ter Tee camp.