STATEMENTS BY INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE

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STATEMENTS BY INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE

Published date:
Wednesday, April 28, 1993

The following statements have been transcribed from recorded interviews with internally displaced Karen civilians. The interviews were conducted in the Karen language in March 1993, in villages inside Burma which are temporarily safe from Burmese troops. The villagers are from areas under SLORC control in Thaton District, but recently had to flee due to the unilateral and unprovoked wave of atrocities against civilians which SLORC troops are currently committing in the area. This campaign appears to be aimed at cutting off all possible contact between the Karen population in the area and Karen resistance forces, as well as terrorising the civilian population into complete submission, establishing a captive relocated population for use as slaves and porters, and clearing entire areas as "free fire" zones. All of these could be preparatory moves for an upcoming full-scale offensive on Karen areas near Manerplaw, to the east.

The following statements have been transcribed from recorded interviews with internally displaced Karen civilians. The interviews were conducted in the Karen language in March 1993, in villages inside Burma which are temporarily safe from Burmese troops. The villagers are from areas under SLORC control in Thaton District, but recently had to flee due to the unilateral and unprovoked wave of atrocities against civilians which SLORC troops are currently committing in the area. This campaign appears to be aimed at cutting off all possible contact between the Karen population in the area and Karen resistance forces, as well as terrorising the civilian population into complete submission, establishing a captive relocated population for use as slaves and porters, and clearing entire areas as "free fire" zones. All of these could be preparatory moves for an upcoming full-scale offensive on Karen areas near Manerplaw, to the east.

Those displaced as a result of this SLORC campaign now join the hundreds of thousands of others already internally displaced by the SLORC in Karen State. These families brought little or nothing with them, and receive no outside aid. For now, they are surviving on food given to them by other villagers.

Their names have been changed and some personal details omitted to protect their relatives still in areas of SLORC control. However, all the names and places included in their stories are real. Please feel free to use this information in any way which may help end the suffering of these people and allow them to return safely to their homes without fear of further persecution.

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1) NAME: Naw Mi Lah Htoo                     SEX: F                 AGE: 40
    ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY: Married with several children

We had to leave. We couldn't even dare go to work our farm anymore. Our children are very young, and we didn't know how we could keep supporting our family. We never had any time to work to support ourselves, because we were always having to run from the SLORC soldiers.. We don't dare face them, so whenever they came we couldn't stay in the village to work. Also, because our children are very young, only my husband is free to work the farm, but we never dared let him go because if he ever met the soldiers they would hurt him. We've heard of this happening again and again, and I couldn't bear the thought of the soldiers doing anything to my husband because we all depend on him.

Every time we returned to the village after running away from them, we found many of our things gone or destroyed and many of the houses damaged. The soldiers took almost all our livestock. If they saw any animals like pigs or hens they took whatever they wanted, and just didn't care. No one dared to stop them. If any of us stayed and tried to stop them they said, "We must take it". They tried to accuse the Karen soldiers by telling us, "If the Karen soldiers came to your village they'd take it too". But I told them, "If the Karen soldiers want anything, they come and ask; if they don't get permission then they never take anything, not like you."

If the soldiers come across families living in one or two houses alone out in the forest they also rape the women and do other things. Our village is a big village, but even so they sometimes came and camped outside the village very quietly in the forest. Then if any villager went outside the village the soldiers caught them by surprise, tied them up and tortured and interrogated them. Now everyone is afraid to leave the village alone. I have a niece who had many buffaloes, and she worried a lot about them. One day when they were a little far from the village, I saw her on the outskirts of the village. She asked me if any villagers were going out to get their carts near where her buffaloes were, so she could go with them. I told her I didn't know and advised her not to go anywhere. She was worried about her buffaloes and wanted to get them. Then later another villager told me, "Your niece and her friend were captured by the soldiers". The mothers of the two girls were very worried and cried, "My daughter is still young. What will the soldiers do to my daughter?" But all they could do was sit and wait for news. Several days later we heard that the soldiers had been looking for information about Karen soldiers so they’d arrested and interrogated many people from other villages too, including men. Because there were men there, the soldiers didn't rape the two girls.

Battalion #24 used to be in our area and they weren't as bad to the villagers. But now 77 and 99 Divisions have taken over from them. The soldiers said they were sent because 24 Battalion couldn’t handle our villages. Nowwhenever soldier's from 77 or 99 Division come to a village they always torture the villagers. If anyone looks unfamiliar or suspicious, they just take them and kill them on the spot. In our village, they beat one man nearly to death, and they tied up the headman for 2 or 3 days and beat him. His name is Saw Bay. They beat him all over his body. They heated up pieces of metal and put them on his mouth. They put his head in water again and again and held him there. He suffered so much that he said, "I can't bear to suffer your torture anymore. If you want to kill me just kill me, but don’t torture me anymore. I'm not guilty. I haven't done anything". Another village elder pleaded with them to free Saw Bay. After 3 days they freed him. He looked like he'd come back from hell. He nearly died. He couldn't bear it.

The soldiers grab any villager on the road anytime they like and do anything they want to them. We heard that they raped one woman at a place called Kway Ta Kaw. There are only one or two houses around there. She's married with children, but one night she was home alone and they came and raped her. I can't believe it, even though she has a husband and children, they still raped her. She was so upset that she tried to kill herself. She didn’t eat for many days, but the villagers and her relatives tried to comfort her. If. they hadn’t looked after her she would have killed herself. We're all shocked that the soldiers can do such horrible things. We can't even mention all the horrible things they say and yell at us. But still they say that they always do good things for the civilians; they say, "the Karen soldiers hurt you but we do you good". But it's only the SLORC soldiers who treat us badly.

Then the soldiers ordered, us to move our village. They said we had to build our houses along both sides of the road in the new place, and said we had to guard the road against Karen soldiers and each family has to send one person to mend the road because the Army wants to use it. We had to say Yes to whatever they asked, ,just say Yes with our mouths because we live under there power and were so afraid of them. If they speak ill about Karen soldiers then we have to also, even though it’s not true.

Now the SLORC troops destroyed a lot of the paddy near our old village and they keep a tight grip on the area. No one dares to go back. When we ran away and came here I brought nothing with me. Nothing at all. When we were leaving we had to hide in a boat so they wouldn't arrest us for leaving. The village headman gave us permission to leave, but he warned us, "If you meet, with SLORC on the way they'll interrogate you. What will you say? If you have an answer for them then go." He advised us, to go stay with relatives if we have any somewhere. After we left, the soldiers noticed we were gone because of the Family Registration List, so they interrogated him. But we were already gone.

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2) NAME: Naw Bo Wah                     SEX: F                 AGE: 26
    ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY:  Widow with one infant

My husband Tha Htoo was killed by SLORC soldiers. I had gone to them to get permission to go to our farm, and they gave us 5 days so we went. But my husband’s friend told him there were soldiers nearby in No Kwa, so we had to find a hidden place to sleep. We went and slept in the forest the first night, then early in the morning we came back to the farm. My husband was walking behind me, and a soldier yelled at him to stop. He tried to run, but he couldn't get away. The soldiers grabbed me too, interrogated me and hit me with a gun. Then they dragged me to my husband. When I got there they were searching his friend. The soldiers spat at me, and freed me, so I went back to the village and asked the village head to go and vouch for my husband. As we were going, the soldiers saw another group of people running from them, so they shot at them. They dragged my husband to the bushes and he tried to run, but another group of soldiers from Noh Ni caught him. Then they took him and tortured him for a week.

We decided to try to collect 10,000 or 20,000 Kyat and pay the soldiers to free my husband. The village headman said not to worry - if we can buy his life we will. He said don't worry about the money. But the soldiers refused us. They said, "He is a Karen soldier, so if you want him you must give us a gun. Go and tell his commander that he’s still young and strong and useful, and he can buy him back with a gun. We'll free him." But my husband was just a farmer. We told them, "He's not a soldier, we have no gun. If you want money we'll pay you somehow". But they said "No way" and kept asking for a gun.

After a week, the village head had vouched for him 3 or 4 times and they said they would free him, but they didn't. Two or three days later they let us see him, and then they killed him that night.

At the time I was 6 months pregnant with my child. 24 Battalion murdered my husband. Now we have 77 and 99 Divisions in our area. Since they killed my husband, the soldiers never even look at my house anymore, but before they killed him they used to come and interrogate us all the time. They always accused him of being a Karen soldier, and said I wasn't married to him.

They took all of our livestock, and even our rice. If they saw any food or livestock in the village, they took it to eat. If we tried to stop them they beat us. If the village head tried to stop them they tied him up. I had nothing left to bring when I ran away to come here. When my mother wasn't home I didn't even dare stay in my house - I had to go stay with others. We were all so afraid of them.

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3) NAME: Saw Klo Wah                     SEX: M                AGE: 30
    ADDRESS: No Tha Ray village, Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY: Married with several children

Two or three months ago the soldiers came to the village to get porters, but I ran away. The people they caught told me they had to carry very heavy things. If they couldn't climb the mountains, the soldiers kicked them. They also didn't feed them much at all. The villagers got a little bit of cooked rice in the morning and had to pack it. They didn't get a chance to eat it until 7 or 8 in the evening, and it was spoiled by then. The soldiers take everyone they can get to do this, they don't care if you're single or married, and sometimes they take women too. The soldiers go along in front, in the back, and in the middle. They’re everywhere.

Once when I was a porter they also took my wife and my son along with them and made them march to Ko Ta Gyi. They made them walk in the sunshine at noontime. It was too hot. I was carrying a load of rice, and I saw my wife and my son. My son was only 4 years old. It was hard for him to keep walking in the hot sun and he was moving very weakly, so I picked him, up and went on. It was very heavy and hard for me with my load, but I had to carry my son until they freed the women and children in Ko Ta Gyi. The village headman had tried to get them to free the children before that, but the soldiers had taken so many villagers, even the old men too, that there was nothing he could do. Since then, my son died of disease.

Usually when they ordered us to send porters to them, if I could hire someone to go in my place I did so. I used to make many baskets to make money. Whenever I had nothing to do I slivered bamboo and made baskets tosell. For 15 days’ work I could make 500 Kyat. But to hire a porter for 5 days I had to pay 300 Kyat, and we also had to give 30 or 40 Kyat to the soldiers’ money collector every time he came. [Note: The SLORC routinely sends orders to Karen villages to send porters, and the villagers often hire itinerant workers in the area to go in their place. However, SLORC troops also storm villages to capture porters at random, and when this happens the villagers have no way out. 'Captured' porters are generally treated much more brutally than 'Conscripted' porters.]

The soldiers always took our things, and never gave us anything. They took our rice, and if we ran from them and they saw our houses with no one in them, they took everything, even the planks so they could sell them.

Recently the soldiers came to No Tha Ray from Par Pu Po at night. That night they went very closely twice around the outskirts of No Tha Ray. They called to my mother, "Hey Mother, have any Karen soldiers been here?" My mother told them she hadn't seen anyone. Then the SLORC men went to the Christian part of the village, and they saw Pa Day Khay going to the toilet. He tried to run from them and they shot him. This happened when the cocks were crowing for the first time in the morning - we couldn't see clearly because of the morning mist. My younger brother, my brother-in-law and I wanted to escape from the soldiers. We got out of the village but we met more soldiers in the banana trees. They put their rifle barrels against us and said, "Don't run away or try anything - we'll kill you if you disobey us". We told them we're civilians, and we won't do anything for sure. They checked our baskets and found my woodcutting tools, so they asked, "Where are you going?" We said, "We're going to saw and load wood in Htee Po Neh". But they followed us to the stream and then, arrested my brother-in-law. They took us back to his house and searched it. Many girls in our village had gone to harvest rice and left their beauty powder and makeup there. The soldiers asked about it but when my brother-in-law told them they weren't satisfied. They said it belonged to Kyaw Soe's wife, and that Kyaw Soe had been there. [Kyaw Soe is a localKaren Army commander] They asked, "How many are in Kyaw Soe's group?" and threatened to hit my brother-in-law, so he said, "I only saw 5 of them". Then the soldier hurt him with a karate chop to his neck, and said. "You’re sure there weren't 15?" But my brother-in-law insisted that he had only seen five.

Then they took my brother and hung him up by his hands with rope. They dragged him along with them and hung him from the coconut trees again and again. Finally the village headman pleaded for his freedom so they stopped torturing him but still kept him tied up. Then after a while they went to another village and dragged a man named Cha Day out of his house and ordered him to show them where the Karen soldiers stay, even though he was just a civilian. He couldn't speak Burmese well so they took him and submerged him in water. He couldn't breathe so he stood up quickly, and the soldiers who were stepping on his back fell over. This made them very angry, so they put their knife in a fire until it turned red, and then put it on his face twice, once on each side of his face. Then they dragged him to the village and poked his chest again and again with the knife. The village headman finally got them to stop by vouching that Cha Day was just a civilian.

The soldiers then went to Paw Tha Pru at about noon, arrested the village headman for interrogation and brought him back to No Tha Ray. On the way they saw a man slivering bamboo and when he tried to run away they shot him. The bullet grazed the side of his skull and he fell down, but got up and managed to run away from them. The other villagers cured him, so he didn't die.

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4) NAME: Pa Neh                     SEX: M                     AGE: 35
    ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY: Married with 2 children

We ran away because they forced our village to move, they forced us all to dismantle our houses and then go and build a hut in their relocation camp. I was very upset about moving and I discussed it with my wife. We both thought, "If we go and stay there, how can we earn our living? We have no farm there, we won't be able to survive". We knew if we ran out of food, the soldiers wouldn't give us anything for sure. So we decided to escape from them. My wife and children left first, took the boat to Shwegun and then to Ka Ma Maung, then went on by foot. I stayed back and went to the relocation camp because if I didn't we would all have trouble.

I gathered some bamboo to make a hut, just to make the soldiers believe we were moving to the camp. They hung papers in front of each hut for family registrations, and I just sat and started slivering bamboo. But then some soldiers came to me, so I asked to go to the toilet and ran away. When I got to the river a friend told me, "The soldiers are following you to arrest you", so I kept going with just a pot and some rice. I got to Lay Kho village and it was empty, so I continued to another village but nobody lived there anymore either. I just slept in the bush at night and went on. Some villages still had people, and I stopped and did hard jobs for them for a day or a few days to make some money to keep going. In one village I reached, I found out SLORC troops were already in the other part of the village, and I had to ask a villager to take me to the road to get out right away. Finally I found my family, and we all arrived here just 4 days ago.

My brother-in-law was also living with us before the relocation because his wife died last summer, but he ran away with his 4 kids as soon as he heard that the soldiers were going to force us to move. But I think he ran in the other direction. And I don't even know where my mother is anymore. We'd built a good house for her in the village so she didn't want to run away, but after they relocated us we all had to run in different directions. For people who had livestock, it was very hard. We couldn't bring anything ourselves, only a couple of pots. We are very poor.

Many people had to run from them. I don’t know what happened to them all. We all had to run around everywhere - I was separated from my family for a whole month. If the SLORC troops meet people in the forest, they shoot. One villager tried to go to work his farm to get rice. The soldiers found out, so they followed him and shot him. He was killed on the spot.

We couldn't dare go back home. If they find people still in the village, they tie them up and beat them very badly. As for the villagers in the relocation camp, right now the soldiers don't al1ow them to go anywhere, not even to the surrounding forest. They don’t provide them with anything. The soldiers tormented our minds terribly with all their ill treatment.

The soldiers are from 99 Division. With them around, villagers like us have no chance to sleep at home. We always have to be ready to run away from them. In many villages they took almost all the livestock - after they left you could see the hair from the dead livestock all over the place. They take whatever they want. They took almost all my Aunt's rice. They just took and took, and never asked permission for anything. If we asked for the cost, we were ignored. They just tormented us. I can't describe how angry they made me.

At Kwee Hta Kaw village, a man named Ko Htaw had run away from the soldiers because if they see any men in a village, they always tie them up and beat, hit, and kick them. So Ko Htaw's wife stayed alone with her children, and usually slept at her sister's house. Her sister is single so she's very afraid of the soldiers, so whenever they come near the village she goes away to stay with her aunt. This left Ko Htaw's wife alone with her children, one boy and one girl, and one night the soldiers came to her house and two of them raped her. She wanted to tell their commander but they threatened to kill her if she did, so she had to keep quiet. When Ko Htaw found out he was so angry, he wanted to fight them. But we can do nothing.

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5) NAME: Naw Shee Ku                 SEX: F                 AGE: 27
    ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY: Married with one child

The SLORC soldiers say to us, "If Karen soldiers come and ask for your livestock you give it to them. If we ask you refuse all the time." They get drunk and ask to have sex with us, so we can't dare sleep at home. Group after group of soldiers comes to our houses, and they’re very often drunk. They ask for alcohol but we have none, so they say we keep it for the Karen soldiers. They went to my sister’s house, took almost all of her fish paste [a staple Karen food, eaten with rice] and broke the vat. No one dares to stop them. She asked for the cost, and they didn't answer. They said, "You keep the fish paste for Karen soldiers". If we stopped them they would accuse us of being rebels, so no one dares speak to them. They say, "You are relatives of Karen soldiers. If you, give birth to a boy then when he grows up you'll let him join the Karen Army". A few months ago they were even arresting the girls as rebels, they didn't even care if they were single or married. If they see children around the village they call them "Son of a Karen soldier" and beat them so all the children run from them. They even hurt the children.

One morning when they came to ask for alcohol, they saw a widow so they said she's a Karen soldiers wife, and she had to run away from them and could only come back after they left the village. They arrested my cousin and accused her of being Kyaw Soe's wife [Kyaw Soe is a local Karen Army commander]. A militiaman came to my house twice and asked me "What is the name of Kyaw Soe’s wife?", but I said I didn't know her. So they went to my mother, and asked her again and again until she was afraid, so she made up a name and said, "Her name is Mu Chit". Then they said, "We've got Mu Chit" - but the woman they'd arrested is Ma Bee, and she's single.

They told Ma Bee, "You are Mu Chit - admit it and we'll free you", but Ma Bee said, "I'm not Mu Chit, I'm Ma Bee, and I'm single. Mu Chit has 3 children." Then the soldiers beat her. They only freed her the next morning, after the villagers had vouched for her. A few weeks later they caught a woman named Mu Chit, who is about 25 and single. They accused her of being Kyaw Soe's wife and tortured her a lot - so I think if Ma Bee had said she was Mu Chit just to go free, they would only have tortured her more instead. They tortured Mu Chit until she was bruised very badly. They tied her hands behind her and beat her again and again. They wouldn't allow the village head to see her, They just said, "It's not your concern, so mind your business or you'll get trouble too." Then the headman said, "She is my niece. If she's going to die then I'll die too." He spoke very bravely, and he told them she's single. But the soldiers insisted she was married because "she doesn't look single". Finally when the village headman bribed them and vouched for her again, they freed her. Kyaw Soe's real wife had already escaped the village long before, so the soldiers just tortured poor Mu Chit in her place.

The soldiers are very proud of their 99 Division. They said, "24 Battalion couldn't handle you, but we are 99 Division." They always took our chickens and fried them as if they were free. They took our things and tried to sell them cheaply around the village, but no one would buy from them. They even went around selling our spoons for 2 Kyat each, and our pots and knives. If no one will buy it from them they keep it, or if they don't want it they just throw it away. They come and take our things again and again. None of us dares to stop them, because we're scared of their guns.

They don't like anyone to speak against them. If you do, they threaten you with a gun. They abuse the villagers and say that if you are against them they'll shoot you for sure. They even shot an old woman who went against them - she was very old and just a civilian. They arrest even the women to carry loads for them, and even the children all run away from them. No one dares wear any green clothes or a black watch because they will say you're a Karen soldier. If a woman wears new clothes, they accuse her of being the wife of a Karen soldier.

They saw one man slivering bamboo in the village and tried to arrest him. When he ran they shot him, but he wasn't killed and killed and got away. They came to another woman’s house to take all her chickens and she told them, "If you want you can take 2 or 3 of them, but you're very stupid ifyou take them all." So they shot her, and she died. They took her body and buried it outside the village.

No woman can go anywhere alone - we must always go in groups of at least two or three, or they'll take us for sure. They arrest people again and again, and they take everyone's possessions. Even if they don't want it, they take it anyway and just throw it away. They even took my new sarong that my mother-in-law gave me. Whenever they take everything they say we are all Kyaw Soe's relatives and members of the Karen Army.

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6) NAME: Naw Aye Da                     SEX: F                    AGE: 30
    ADDRESS: Tee Pa Doh Kee area, Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY: Married with several children

The soldiers always made us work in their camp, making fences. They took everyone, they didn't care how old or young. They just made everyone go and stay until the work was all finished. Even the old women always had to go make fences for them. The soldiers in the camp guarded us.

We never saw them kill people in our village but we know they killed people in other villages. Two people from our village disappeared, though. We saw their families crying. Nobody was sure whether the soldiers had killed them or just took them away.

Not long ago the soldiers came to our village and forced us to move. They came and threatened us with their guns and said, "You must move right away. You can't stay here." Some people said they didn't want to move, but they were beaten very badly. So we had to move. For people who had a lot of livestock or possessions it was very hard. They couldn't take, all their things with them. The soldiers forced us to dismantle our houses. We pleaded with them only to remove the leaf roof and the bamboo floor, but they forced us to dismantle them completely. They said if we wouldn't, they'd pull them apart nail by nail for us. I thought if we refused, they might burn the houses. So we had to dismantle everything.

They moved us to a place called No Ka Ray, on the riverbank, on sand. We had to build our huts there, and the soldiers put guards around us. There were guards on every gate into and out of the village. We didn't dare try to go back to our old village.

Earlier this month we ran away and came here. We had to flee from them. They didn't know we ran away, or they would have tried to catch us on the way and we would have disappeared because they would have killed us. They want us all to stay under them, and they can do anything they want to us.

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7) NAME: Saw Kyaw Moe                     SEX: M                     AGE: 35
    ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY: Married with children

Recently the soldiers surrounded No Tha Ray village to catch villagers. They arrested Po Kyauk Kae and tortured him. He couldn't bear it, and later he told everyone how they tortured him. So they took him again, forced him to show places where people were hiding, and then killed him.

Two men, Po Kwa Lay and Du Du, were on their way to his funeral when they met some soldiers. The soldiers knew Po Kwa Lay is a Karen soldier, so they tied him up and slashed his friend Du Du's stomach with a knife. Du Du's cousin Maung Htay vouched for Du Du and they freed him because Maung Htay is in their militia, but he didn't dare vouch for Po Kwa Lay. The soldiers took Po Kwa Lay to show them hiding places, and then they killed him.

Whenever we see the SLORC soldiers we run from them because whenever they see men in a village they torture us. Just before I came here they arrested my brother, and I still don't know if they killed him or freed him. He was walking to another village with his friend Kyaw Oo to buy a cow. A group of soldiers arrested them and tortured Kyaw Oo. Then they went to Kyaw Oo's wife in the village, but quietly so no one knew. They interrogated her, and we heard that she had to sleep with them to save her husband, but we're not sure.

Another girl from the village disappeared while watching her cows. When her mother went to get her back, she met soldiers on the way. They just slapped her in the face, pulled her hair and sent her home. She never got to see her daughter. The soldiers held her daughter for a week before they freed her.

Also, at Pa Boh village they shot 30 cows at once. Then they just took a little of the meat, and left the rest laying there to rot.

I'm married, but if I were single I'd get a gun and fight them. I really want to fight them.

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8) NAME: Saw Po Thay                     SEX: M            AGE: 25
    ADDRESS: Tee Pa Doh Hta village, Pa'an Township, Thaton District
    FAMILY: Married with one child

Sometimes the SLORC soldiers come to our village once every two days, sometimes only once or twice a month, but it’s not always the same Battalion. If any men are in the village, they take 15 or 16 of them as porters. If no men are there then they take the women. Sometimes they say they'll take them for 2 or 3 days but then take them for a month.. None of the porters get enough food, and some are beaten. The soldiers make us carry 84 mm. rockets, 6 apiece, or 81 mm. shells, other equipment and food. Even those who get sick have to carry. Two or three men from the village got very sick with dysentery or malaria as porters. Sometimes the soldiers even keep the porters for 2 months.

We hear rumours that the women have been raped when they're taken as porters, but they never talk about it. If they get pregnant they take special medicine to stop it, and just keep quiet about

it. The soldiers take the women for two purposes, firstly as porters and human shields for long time periods like one month, and secondly for one or two nights at a time to be raped. Soldiers come from the nearby camp of 19 Battalion and take girls away into the forest. This happens frequently.

In December 1992 I had to go as a porter with one of my friends. The soldiers came into the village and shot some chickens and ducks, then they forced us to go with them for one day to Nya Po Kee. There were 140 soldiers and 16 porters. The porters were convicts from Toungoo Prison, but some had already escaped so the soldiers were capturing villagers to take their place. The soldiers were from 19 Battalion of 99 Division, Battalion Commander Tin Nyunt. Their home camp is in Pegu Division, but now about 300 of them are based just 20 minutes' walk from our village.

There is also 15 Battalion, and whenever they meet villagers they beat them and torture them saying that they're Karen soldiers. They tortured two men from my village, Saw Ta Pu Ka, who is 24 years old with a wife and one child, and Pa May Kay, who is 26 with 3 children. On January 3, 1993 these two men were going to the forest to collect firewood, and the soldiers saw them, captured them and took them to their camp. They said, "You are Karen soldiers" and beat them and tortured them. They told them to go and get their guns and bring them, as if they were Karen soldiers. Then they put a 5 foot bamboo pole across their shins, and soldiers kept standing on both ends of it until they couldn't bear it anymore, and then the soldiers rolled it up and down their shins by hand. Next they poked them in the stomach with bayonets until it bled, just to cause pain, and put nylon bags over their heads and poured cold water over the bags so they couldn't breathe. [This is a common SLORC torture; the victims can breathe through the nylon until water is poured on it, which makes it airtight]. Saw Ta Pu Ka and Pa May Kay were kept tied up while this went on for 3 days, and then they were untied but the torture went on for 4 more days. On January 10, Win Nay Soe, who commands 15 Battalion, said that if a teacher and the village nurse went to their camp and guaranteed that the men weren't Karen soldiers then they'd be released. After they were freed they had to be treated in the village for one whole month, and even now they still have internal pain. Now they can work again, but not as much as before.

Also, about one month ago near No Aw Lah village, 84 Battalion was along the road. Some villagers saw them and tried to run away, so the soldiers shot at them and killed 2 people.

In December 1992 they ordered us to relocate, but the village has 400 houses, so it is too big and we didn't move. All of the small villages with 50 houses or less have been forced to move, though. I think over 100 villages altogether have recently been forced to move in Thaton and Papun Districts. They're doing this to cut off the Karen Army from the Karen people. In our area many have been forced to move to the big villages like Tee Pa Doh Hta which has 400 houses, Lay Po Hta with 320 houses, and Tee Chu Baw with 260 houses. Some of the villages near Tee Pa Doh Hta which have been forced to move are Tee Chee Baw Kee (30 houses), Ma Klu Taw (35 houses), Kwa Lah (35 houses), Ta Meh Kee (25 houses), and Nya Po Kee (28 houses). That's well over 1,000 people, just from those villages. Many of them are now in Tee Pa Doh Hta. They have no way to earn a living anymore because they can't go back to their farms. It's even dangerous now for Tee Pa Doh Hta villagers to go to our farms, because SLORC troops patrol everywhere and if you meet them they take you as a porter. But everyone in Tee Pa Doh Hta feels sorry for the people who've been forced to move so we give them rice and they try to help us on our farms. All of them still hope that sometime they can go back to their home villages and farms, but now it's very hard for them. It's worse than ever before.