Situation Update | Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District (August to October 2013)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in November 2013. It was written by a community member in Hpapun 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 Hpapun District, including five incidents, 14 interviews and 31 photographs.
Since the Karen National Liberation [Army] and Thein Sein’s government or Nay Pyi Daw government signed the ceasefire agreement, we have to admit that human rights abuse, forced labour, [including] sentry and messenger [duty], are decreasing.
However, we cannot say that it [human rights abuses] have decreased in every part of Karen State. Especially in the places where both the Nay Pyi Daw government [Tatmadaw] and KNU [Karen National Union/ Karen National Liberation Army] control the area, or the places where media groups cannot reach, such as Meh P’Lee village tract, Meh K’Law village tract, the Tatmadaw are still committing human rights abuses. So, I have included it in the situation update [reporting on issues occurring] between August 30th and October 31st 2013.
For the people who live in places where media groups cannot access, even when they are forced to do labour or tortured, they do not know where and who to report the abuse that they have suffered to, and they also do not know that they can talk to the parliament about the abuse. The local people also do not understand human rights. Because of that, the local villagers are always being ordered to do forced labour, sentry, messenger, porter, [as well as face] sexual harassment or abuse towards women. These kinds of abuses are still happening in the areas that I mentioned above.
Before the ceasefire talk, the Tatmadaw, in particular, was committing the human rights abuse and, after the ceasefire talk, we can say that the Tatmadaw reduced [the frequency with which they were] abusing human rights. Even though we can say that they reduce it, the BGF [Border Guard Force],which is led by the Tatmadaw, is still sexually abusing the women and abusing human rights. Moreover, they also ordered the villagers to serve as messengers and sentries in their camp everyday, to use them when they need anything to be done. We can still see that the villagers are still being ordered by the BGF to serve as sentries. Likewise, the BGF [soldiers] also use drugs, such as beer and hard liquor, which are sold illegally, and go around the village and sexually abuse the women. They would not have sexually abuse the woman if they were not intoxicated, but they did it after using a lot of drugs.
If I have to talk about the incident precisely, on August 21st 2013, Ma P--- was sexually harassed when the BGF from Weh Gyi area came into the village on that day. The person who committed the abuse is the sergeant, Saw Dah Tu; he committed it when he drank a lot of alcohol and got drunk while staying at Ma P---’s house.
At 9:00 pm that night, BGF #1014’s Sergeant Saw Dah Tu went into Ma P---’s room while he was drunk and sexually harassed her. That was on August 21st 2013 and the location is S--- village, Meh P’Lee village tract, Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District, in Ma P---’s house. Ma P---’s mother, Ma Hs--- or [also referred to as] Naw W---, went to see Saw Dah Tu’s BGF #1014 Bo Saw Tin Win and told him about the incident. Because of that Bo Tin Win gave her 200,000 kyat (US $203.05) as compensation for what his comrade sergeant had done.
And the other human rights abuse is forced labour, such as forced labour or ordering the villagers to serve as sentries without paying them. The armed groups that came and based their camp in S--- village, Meh P’Lee village tract, Bu Tho Township are BGF #1013 and BGF #1014. Since they started building their army camps and, until now, October 30th 2013, they order the villagers to serve as set tha [messengers] and sentries. The villagers also will have to guide them and porter their stuffs and weapons for them. Until now, while the KHRG community member is interviewing the villagers, the BGF is still ordering the villagers to serve as messengers and sentries. The community member interviewed Saw T---, who is 37 years old.
Moreover, the Hpapun Agriculture Department staff, Saw Ah Ei, or [also named] Ja Ei, raped the Ei--- villager, Ma D---, who is only 25 years old. The rape case happened on June 2nd 2013 in Hpapun Town, [section # censored for security], Meh K’Law village tract, Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District. The perpetrator is U Ah Ei or U Ja Ei (31 years old, father’s name U Htun Hla Shwe), and he is a staff from Hpapun Agriculture Department. The abuse happen when Ma D--- went to the water pump, which is located close to U Ja Ei’s house. Because of the sexual abuse that the son had done, U Htun Hla Shwe, who is U Ja Ei’s father, compensated 300,000 kyat (US $304.57) to Ma D---. However, U Ja Ei or U Ah Ei is still kept in the jail in Hpapun Town and has not been released yet.
Furthermore, I also want to report about the development projects [happening] since the ceasefire talk. The vehicle road from Hpapun Town to K’Ma Maung, called Aung Theint Dee town, is being repaired and developed with cement. The repairing and developing started on October 15th 2013. The bridges along the Aung Theint Dee vehicle road, which are still in the process of being developed, are the T’Kone Taing village’s bridge, Hway Hsan village’s bridge and Nyi Naung [village’s] bridge, which is located close to Ma Htaung village.
The T’Kone Taing Bridge is 60 feet long and it was built with the concrete, so the cost is 173 billion kyat (US $175,634,517.77). It was built by the engineer, Ko Min Thant, who is from the branch of the Burma [government] construction ministry special group #13. The Hway Hsan Bridge is also built by the Burma construction ministry special group #13, but it was led by Engineer Daw Yin Nwe. The bridge is 50 feet long and it is also built by cement so, the cost is 167.80 billion [kyat] (US $170,558,375.63).
The Nyi Naung Bridge, which is located close to Ma Htaung village, is still in the process of being constructed and repaired by the Burma construction ministry special group (13), which is led by Engineer Daw Yin Nwe. The bridge is 60 feet long and it costs 164.30 billion. The bridges that are mentioned were all started to be constructed and repaired on October 15th 2013, and some of them are still in the process of constructing.
Everything that mentioned above happened between August 30th 2013 and October 31st 2013. Just as the human rights abuse has change positively, like vehicle construction, there are also some negative changes.