Situation Update | Lu Pleh Township, Hpa-an District (2012 - 2013)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in November 2013. It was written by a community member in Hpa-an 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.1 This report was received along with other information from Hpa-an District, including one interview, 164 photographs and 13 video clips.
In Klaw K’Tee village, Meh T’Moo village tract, Lu Pleh Township, the [Burma] government has started to build a new town since 2011. In 2013, they will build a Government school and a hospital. In 2014, the Government has a plan to construct the road from Lu Pleh Town to Klaw K’Tee town. The Government’s education department coordinator conducted a meeting in Klaw K’Tee town and stated that he would build a school that has grade 10 [the final year of high school in Burma]. They already built some of the [public] government buildings. They will pay the villagers who lost their lands because of the construction, but they have not done so yet.
In Lu Pleh Township, Meh T’Moo village tract, there are a lot of valuable white stones, so the company mines it in two places. The first place is at the confluence of Meh T’Moo River and Meh K’Loh River. The second place is at another place where there are a lot of stones, which is close to the confluence of the Paw Baw River and the Meh K’Taw River. They cannot mine during the monsoon season, but they can mine during the summer. It has been two years since they started mining. The Paw Baw stone mine is located inside the mountain, so it does not damage the villagers’ flat fields.
In Lu Pleh Township, they are selling drugs [methamphetamines] in the town. The people who sell the drugs belong to the BGF [Border Guard Force]. The reason that the BGF sell the drug in Hpa-an District is because the Government does not follow [enforce] the [drug] policies completely. There are also many different armed groups, among which there are also people who do things secretly for their own benefits. There are also some people who connect themselves with the armed groups and act as one of them and sell the drugs, but are not members of the armed groups. Because there are many armed groups and many ‘fake people’ [who pretend to belong to an armed group] in Hpa-an District, there is also a lot of drug dealing. The most important reason [for the drug dealing] is that the country’s rules and laws are not effective and enforcing.
During 2012 to 2013 in Hpa-an District, Lu Pleh Township, the ceasefire agreement between the Burma government and the KNU [Karen National Union] made [the amount of] forced labour decrease, as it should be. However, the Tatmadaw camps are still remaining and they have not withdrawn yet.
During 2013, most of the villagers from Lu Pleh Township are flat field farmers and hill field farmers. There is also no other work for them, so most of the youth go to Bangkok to work. Some villagers send their children to school until they finish high school and some villagers until they graduate and get their university degree. After getting their degree, there are no jobs for them [in their own region], so they have to go to Bangkok to work.
In some villages in Lu Pleh Township, the Burmese government built a school and hired teachers. Most of them [the schools] are primary school and middle schools. There are also KNU schools. There are also NGOs who support the schools.
Citizens’ health care
Regarding health care in Lu Pleh Township, the Back Pack [Back Pack Heath Workers’ Team] health workers help the villagers. There are also clinics in some of the villages that are built by the Burmese government, but not in every village yet.
Citizen’s economic situation
There is no economic planning in the Lu Pleh Township. Most of the villagers are farming flat fields or hill fields for income and they also sell their cows and buffalos. Most of them [the villagers] go to Bangkok to work.
The powerful, armed groups in Lu Pleh Township are the Tatmadaw, the KNU, the BGF and the DKBA’s [Democratic Karen Benevolent Army] Kloh Htoo Lah. The DKBA’s Kloh Htoo Lah controls the area in Yaw Poh, Klu Htaw and the riverbank of the Salween River. The BGF controls the area in Hkaw Taw [Myaing Gyi Ngoo].
During 2012 and 2013, in Lu Pleh Township, the [number of] human rights abuses have decreased, as it should be. Therefore, in 2013 and 2014, the leaders in charge have allowed the villagers to cut trees to build their homes. Regarding the lands, the KNU’s land department will measure the villagers’ lands. They will also provide the land titles to the villagers.