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, including five incident reports, 14 interviews, one other situation update and 66 photographs.
The human rights abuses and social problems that happened between January 1st 2013 and March 18th 2013
The human rights abuses and the social problems that we are going to address happened between January 1st 2013 and March 18th 2013. These problems happened in the villages from Meh Mweh village tract to Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract.
The social problems that have been happening include the explosion of a landmine in the west of the Yunzalin River Bank, between P--- village and S--- village, K'Ter Tee village tract, Papun District. The explosion happened in February 2013. Regarding this explosion, none of the armed groups took responsibility.
The human rights abuses that happen from Meh Mweh village tract to Htee Th'Daw Hta tract are caused by Myaing Gyi Ngu monk, U Thuzana, who controls the whole area of Myaing Gyi Ngu. For the landmine explosion case, we still do not know and still cannot figure out who was the perpetrator.
Even though we do not know why the landmine was planted, we know that U Thuzana's construction of the bridge in Karen State is to make the transportation [routes] better, so he constructed the Htee Lah Eh Hta Bridge.
Since January 1st 2013, the Myaing Gyi Ngu monk started constructing Htee Lah Eh Hta bridge (or) the bridge that crosses the Yunzalin River in Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract, Bu Tho Township, Papun District. Even though we do not know which company supports U Thuzana's work, he is ordering the villagers from Meh Mweh village tract to Lwa Sin village tract to go for volunteer work. He ordered every villager including men and women, adults and children, from every village starting from Meh Mweh village tract to Lwa Sin village tract [to work on the construction of the bridge]. Therefore, the villagers in the areas face many problems. If it is volunteer work, he [U Thuzana] should only order the villagers [to work for] one or two days. But now, he ordered the villagers to construct the bridge until it is completely finished; we do not know how many months and years it will take, so it cannot be called volunteer work anymore. Moreover, it [the work] does not meet the standards of ILO [International Labour Organization] rules. He [U Thuzana] forced the villagers to work, whether the villagers want to work or not. So, regarding U Thuzana ordering the villagers to construct the bridge, it is obviously forced labour.
The village tracts that are being ordered to do forced labour by U Thuzana are Meh Mweh village tract, Day Wah village tract, Kyaw Pah village tract, Meh P'Lee village tract and Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract, which are five village tracts in total. There are about 40 villages in those five village tracts. He [U Thuzana] ordered everyone from those villages including old people, youth [and] children, [both] men and women. Some of the workers [construction workers in additional villagers] who construct the bridge receive payment and some do not. He [U Thuzana] ordered the villagers starting on January 1st 2013 and until now. We do not know how many months and years it will take in the future.
On February 11th 2013, because of the landmine explosion, five villagers died and a car was damaged. The explosion happened between P--- village and S--- village, [in the] western part of Yunzalin River in K'Ter Tee village tract, Dwe Lo Township, Papun District. The place where the landmine exploded is not close to the K'Ter Tee army camp and is three furlongs away from the vehicle road. The place where the explosion happened is located in the eastern part of the vehicle road.
No one knows who is to blame for the landmine explosion. The armed groups who are active in the area are the BGF [Border Guard Force Battalion] #1013, BGF #1014, DKBA [Democratic Karen Benevolent Army] and KNU [Karen National Union]. None of them took responsibility regarding this incident and none of them tried to find out who the perpetrator was.
Even though we do not know who the perpetrator of the landmine explosion was, there was a lot of damage and death. It happened like this: U L---, who is from Papun, lent his car to Ko Myo, former administrator of K'Taing Tee who took responsibility for the transportation of sand for Green Hill Company. Therefore, U L---'s car was the car that carried sand for the Green Hill Company.
Green Hill Company is [based in] the building that was built for the Border Guard Force #1013 and #1014 to stay in. While carrying the sand for the Green Hill Company, the car got hit by a landmine that was planted by unknown people. It got hit by the landmine on February 11th 2013 while carrying sand from the sand bank.
When the landmine exploded, U L---'s car was damaged and left the car driver and four other villagers dead. Five villagers died in total. For the death of the villagers, Green Hill Company donated 300,000 kyat (US $318.13) [to the family] for each villager who died. Likewise, the former administrator Ko Myo also donated 200,000 kyat (US $212.10) [per family] for the villagers who died.
The forced labour and landmine explosions will still happen in the future because even though the ceasefire happened, the Burmese [Burma] government did not lead their armed groups effectively according to the ceasefire agreement. For example, the leadership in the headquarters is not practiced by the lower rank soldiers [lower ranking solders do not follow orders from headquarters]. And the lower rank soldiers also do not follow the rules. Therefore, for sure, there will still be some problems in the future.