Hpa-an Situation Update: T'Nay Hsah Township, June 2012 to February 2013


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Hpa-an Situation Update: T'Nay Hsah Township, June 2012 to February 2013

Published date:
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in February 2013 by a community member describing events occurring in T'Nay Hsah Township, Hpa-an District between June 2012 and February 2013. The report describes monks demanding money and labour from villagers for the building of roads and pagodas. Also detailed in this report is the loss of money and possessions by many villagers through playing the two-digit lottery. Further, the report describes the cutting down of forest in Yaw Ku and in Kru Per village tracts by the DKBA and the BGF, including 30 t'la aw trees, which villagers rely upon for their housing; the Tatmadaw have also designated land for sale without consulting local villagers. This report also describes the prevalence of amphetamine use and sale in the area, involving both young people and armed groups including the BGF, KPF and DKBA. Finally, the report details the ongoing danger posed by landmines, which continue to stop villagers from going about their livelihoods and are reportedly still being planted by armed groups.


[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 Hpa-an District can be found in the report, "Hpa-an Situation Update: Ta Kreh and T'Nay Hsah Townships, December 2012," KHRG, April 2013.

[3] Saying that monks will need to be called if the money is not paid is the equivalent of a threat to the villagers' lives; this is clear in the original Karen language document.

[4] Sarpyanpwe Festival is held in May or June; the month of Nayon in the Myanmar calendar. The festival marks the beginning of the rainy season and also the time of examinations for Buddhist monks, when they are tested on their knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures.

[5] As of May 15th 2013, all conversion estimates for the Kyat in this report are based on the official market rate of 909 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] The leaves of t'la aw trees are traditionally collected by villagers and used for the roofs of houses.

[7] 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, and, "Exploitation and recruitment under the DKBA in Pa'an District," KHRG, June 2009.

[8] Democratic Karen Benevolent Army; originally called the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, is a 1995 breakaway group from the KNU/KNLA which signed a ceasefire agreement with the SPDC government and directly cooperated at times with Tatmadaw forces, now referring to a splinter group from those DKBA forces reformed as Tatmadaw Border Guard forces, but independent of KNLA.

[9]  Yaba, which means 'crazy medicine' in Thai, is a tablet form of methamphetamine. Introduced to East Asia during World War II to enhance soldiers' performance, methamphetamine has become increasingly popular in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Vietnam, and in Burma where it is typically manufactured; see "Yaba, the 'crazy medicine' of East Asia," UNODC, May 2008.

[10] Kyaw Thu, Kyaw Wah is a phrase in Karen language which is equivalent to the phrase 'Tom, Dick and Harry' in English, meaning multiple unspecified people or 'anyone.'

[11] Ar Wer Day is the name of an event that was founded by Commander Mya Hkaing, formerly of the DKBA and currently Border Guard Battalion #1015 Commander. Ar Wer Day events typically consist of a group of people gambling and usingyaba.

[12] Karen Peace Force, which was formed in February 1997 after splitting from the KNU/KNLA, by surrendering to and signing a ceasefire with the Burmese military government. The KPF controls some administrative areas in Three Pagodas Pass and operates a number of road and river checkpoints in the area of Three Pagodas Pass. Following repeated rejections of Burmese government proposals to reform KPF into the Tatmadaw Border Guard, substantial elements have since reformed in the Tatmadaw Border Guard in 2010 while others remain independent. See Mizzima Election 2010 Factsheet: KPF.