Hpa-an Situation Update: Lu Pleh Township, 2012 to 2013


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Hpa-an Situation Update: Lu Pleh Township, 2012 to 2013

Published date:
Thursday, February 13, 2014

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Lu Pleh Township, Hpa-an District throughout 2012 and 2013, including development projects, stone mining, drug production and ongoing militarisation.

  • Villagers who lost their lands to governmentally instructed projects still await financial compensation.
  • Non-compliance with existing anti-drugs laws and regulations has resulted in a high presence of methamphetamine drugs that is controlled by the Border Guard Force (BGF) and other armed groups.
  • The villagers voiced their concern about the ongoing Tatmadaw’s presence in the area.
  • The lack of development structures in the area has negative consequences on the education and work opportunities for the youth, who move to Bangkok in search of work.


[1] 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. For additional reports categorized by Type, Issue, Location and Year, please see the Related Readings component following each report on KHRG’s redesigned Website.

[2] A village tract is an administrative unit of between five and 20 villages in a local area, often centred on a large village.

[3] The drug the community member is referring to is a tablet form of methamphetamine produced and sold in Karen areas, called k’thee k’thay, meaning “horse medicine” inthe Karen language, or yaba, which means “crazy medicine” in Thai.First developed in 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 and “Woman raped and killed in Pa’an District, October 2012,” KHRG, December 2012.

[4] Border Guard Force (BGF) 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 formalised ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government and agreed to transform into battalions within the Tatmadaw. BGF 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 ForceDemocratic Voice of Burma, August 2010, and, “Exploitation and recruitment under the DKBA in Pa’an District,” KHRG, June 2009.

[5] On January 12th 2012, a preliminary ceasefire agreement was signed between the KNU and Burma government in Hpa-an, Karen State. Negotiators from the two parties met for a 2nd round of talks on April 4th, where they signed a more detailed preliminary ceasefire plan, and held a 3rd round of negotiations on September 3rd and 4th 2012; see “Preliminary Ceasefire Talks,” Karen National Union, April 4th 2012; “KNU Delegations Departs for the Third Round Negotiation of Ceasefire with the Burmese Government,” Karen National Union, September 1st 2012.  In 2013, the ceasefire process became a nationwide effort. On November 2nd, 17 ethnic armed groups signed a joint proposal for a nationwide ceasefire in Laiza, Kachin State; see "Burma's armed ethnic groups sign nation-wide ceasefire pledge in Laiza," Kachin News, November 5th 2013. Two days later in Myitkyina, Kachin State, the EAGs presented their proposal to a Burma government delegation, which then presented its own plan. The Government rejected the EAG’s proposal for a multi-ethnic federal army, the EAGs requested more time to review, and both sides agreed to meet again; see "Myanmar Peace Talks Fail to Nail Down Cease-Fire Agreement," Radio Free Asia, November 5th 2013. On January 25th 2014, in Law Khee Lar, Karen State, 17 ethnic armed groups agreed to an updated proposal to be presented to the Burma government in Hpa-an in February 2014; see "Ethnic armed groups sign 11-point nationwide ceasefire draft," Myanmar Freedom Daily, January 26th 2014.  For more information on the ceasefire and how it has affected local villagers, see “Safeguarding human rights in a post-ceasefire eastern Burma,” KHRG, January 2012 and “Steps towards peace: Local participation in the Karen ceasefire process,” KHRG, November 2012.

[6] The Klo Htoo Baw are DKBA forces in Hpa-an and Dooplaya Districts that refused to transform into Tatmadaw Border Guard battalions and which, in November 2010, began fighting Tatmadaw forces. They have been referred to as DKBA #907, Klo Htoo Baw (Golden Drum), and Brigade #5. Each of these terms refers to different configurations of DKBA units commanded by the brigadier general commonly known as Na Kha Mway, whose real name is Saw Lah Pwe. In September 2011, it was reported that the remaining DKBA forces were to be reconfigured into two tactical commands, Klo Htoo Wah and Klo Htoo Lah, and that Na Kha Mway would be the senior commander of these forces. In early November 2011, Brigade #5 signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burma government in which demands for its forces to transform into Border Guard units were removed, and the brigade has moved to re-establish it’s headquarters at Wah Lay, Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District. See “DKBA to accelerate military tactics,” The Irrawaddy Magazine, September 8th 2011; and “DKBA Brigade 5 Reaches Ceasefire with Naypyidaw,” The Irrawaddy Magazine, November 4th 2011. For more on the origins of the current conflict and the transformation of DKBA troops into Border Guard battalions, see: “Protection concerns expressed by civilians amidst conflict in Dooplaya and Pa’an districts,” KHRG, November 2010.