PORTERS: KYAUK KYI TOWNSHIP, NOVEMBER 1992

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Published date:
Wednesday, November 10, 1993

The following four men were taken as slave porters by the SLORC and escaped in Kyauk Kyi Township on 18 November 1992. They reported their story to villagers in the area, one of whom wrote it all down. Although this report relates to events one year ago, it was only recently received from Kyauk Kyi Township by the Karen Human Rights Group. It is printed now because it is still relevant; the taking of porters by SLORC troops and the way they are treated have not changed since then. The porter's names have been changed to protect them. They are all from Pegu.

The following four men were taken as slave porters by the SLORC and escaped in Kyauk Kyi Township on 18 November 1992. They reported their story to villagers in the area, one of whom wrote it all down. Although this report relates to events one year ago, it was only recently received from Kyauk Kyi Township by the Karen Human Rights Group. It is printed now because it is still relevant; the taking of porters by SLORC troops and the way they are treated have not changed since then. The porter's names have been changed to protect them. They are all from Pegu.


No. Name Age Occuptation
1.
2.
3.
4.
Maung Hla
U Sein Myint
U Thein Htun
Maung Ni
27
45
42
43
Farmer
Farm labourer
Trishaw Driver
---

On 9 October 1992, these four men were captured from their work, bound and taken away by SLORC soldiers. They were tied up to each other. The next day they were saddled with loads and taken to Byat Kauk SLORC camp. They say each of their loads weighed about the same as 2 baskets of rice, or about 50 kilograms. The older porters couldn't carry this weight, so the soldiers kicked them and stomped on them. Along the way they saw 5 dead porters whose loads had been too much for them. They also saw a 14 year old boy who was trying to catch paddy herons by setting a net. On seeing him, one of the soldiers ran to the boy and stabbed him to death. They also witnessed 4 elderly men hit and killed with rifle butts.

The food given to porters consisted of a very small amount of rice mixed with sand, stones and soy beans which had gone rotten. Each porter was given one sardine tin full of water after eating. At noon when they asked for water the soldiers kicked them. When they arrived at Byat Kauk camp they saw porters being tied up in groups of fours and fives.

The 4 of them decided to escape because they thought if they stayed they would eventually be killed like the other exhausted porters. So on 18 November at 2 p.m., the four men sawed through the rope on their hands and escaped. They followed the water, and after 2 days found an old woman who fed them a little rice and cucumber, then took them to her village and fed them more. They were then sent to a Karen camp, where the wounds on their shoulders and backs were treated. When they arrived they were covered in sores, and their clothes were torn and tattered. The villagers treated them further, gave them clothes and once they were strong enough, sent them on their way with 25 Kyat each. The men said that the SLORC had told them the Karen are barbarians who would slit their throats with bamboo if they caught them; now, however, they said they realized how false was all the SLORC's propaganda.