ONGOING SLORC LOOTING IN KAREN VILLAGES

e-mail
Published date:
Tuesday, December 28, 1993

The following accounts were given by Karen villagers in a village which has just been looted by SLORC troops in Thaton District. The name of the village is omitted to protect it against being burned down by SLORC troops. The villagers' descriptions show the extent of the systematic looting being conducted by SLORC throughout the country, and the soldiers' utter disregard for human life. Many of the things taken, such as children's clothes, cucumber seeds and a baby's cradle, would be useless to the soldiers and are obviously being taken just to be destroyed or sold for money. Though it may be easy for many Westerners to laugh at the "trivial" possessions these people mourn the loss of, it should be remembered that these people have already been the victims of an intensive terror campaign by SLORC for the past year; these last few belongings are their only hedge against starvation, and cannot be replaced. Many people in this area are already dying of malnourishment and disease, with no outside aid. These accounts are typical, and are now happening in more villages every week. All of the villagers quoted are Karen Buddhists; many of their names have been changed. Almost all of them are women because the men have already had to flee the village to avoid being tortured and killed as suspected Karen soldiers or taken as porters.

The following accounts were given by Karen villagers in a village which has just been looted by SLORC troops in Thaton District. The name of the village is omitted to protect it against being burned down by SLORC troops. The villagers' descriptions show the extent of the systematic looting being conducted by SLORC throughout the country, and the soldiers' utter disregard for human life. Many of the things taken, such as children's clothes, cucumber seeds and a baby's cradle, would be useless to the soldiers and are obviously being taken just to be destroyed or sold for money. Though it may be easy for many Westerners to laugh at the "trivial" possessions these people mourn the loss of, it should be remembered that these people have already been the victims of an intensive terror campaign by SLORC for the past year; these last few belongings are their only hedge against starvation, and cannot be replaced. Many people in this area are already dying of malnourishment and disease, with no outside aid. These accounts are typical, and are now happening in more villages every week. All of the villagers quoted are Karen Buddhists; many of their names have been changed. Almost all of them are women because the men have already had to flee the village to avoid being tortured and killed as suspected Karen soldiers or taken as porters.

============================================================

(Name, Sex (M/F), Age:)

Naw Bweh Paw Mo, F, 44: The soldiers came into my house, pointed guns at me and called me a "ringworm's wife" ["ringworm" is derogatory SLORC slang for "Karen rebel"]. I was angry and I started crying, and I told them I'm not. While I argued with them, other soldiers went into the rooms of my house and started pouring out all our rice and pulling down our baskets, boxes and things. My daughter called out, "Mother, they're searching everything in our rooms!" I asked them, "What do you want from me? I'm not an insurgent." A soldier said, "Whenever we come in this village we never see men, only women. Your husband is a ringworm. Where is he now?" I said, "My husband is a farmer, so he's gone to the farm." Then the soldiers ordered me to find alcohol for them. I told them that nobody in our village makes alcohol, and then 3 soldiers pointed their guns at me and said they'd kill me if I didn't get them alcohol. I said, "So kill me then. A person can only die once." Then the soldiers went to look for a pig around my house - they found just a small thin one, then they found a fat one but it was pregnant. I told them, "You can take the thin one, but not this one because it's pregnant." But they didn't listen, and they smashed in its skull. One soldier [probably a corporal or sergeant] ordered the others, "This is an insurgent village, so take everything, eat everything." They went and tried to find and kill every pig and chicken in the village. The officer came, and I told him, "Your soldiers pointed guns at me and said they'd kill me if I didn't find alcohol for them", and then I sat down and cried. He said nothing, and they left my house after taking a pot, a spoon, 2 kilos of rice, and 5 kilos of sesame. Then they went around killing all the animals they saw and taking whatever they wanted.

Sa Weh Si Mo, F, 31: They stole 1 kilo of rice, 2 machetes, 5 kilos of sesame, 2 pigs and 20 coconuts. They searched my whole house. I didn't dare stay while they did it - it was too frightening, so we fled to a friend's house. The soldiers said to me, "We're going to kill you, mother!" At night if we wanted to go out, even just to the latrine, their sentries watched us so that we couldn't leave the village.

Pa Neh, M, 44: I am head of the village. When the enemy [SLORC] army entered the village, they plundered everything, including rice and animals. They took all our valuables, worth 300,000 or 400,000 Kyat altogether. They didn't kill anyone in our village, but they killed a man named Noh Ghay from a nearby village. They also ordered 4 or 5 women to go with them as guides. Altogether 450 soldiers came into our village, from the 44th Division. I don't know the commander's name. They tried to destroy the entire village by looting and ransacking it. They acted just like a pack of robbers and looters, but still they call themselves a government. All the villagers blame Ne Win, because it is his army that comes to rob us. They stole all our chickens, pigs, pots, plates, our rice and everything. No one dared stand up to them too much, because there were only women in the village at the time. One day they will pay for what they have done. They act as though our property were their own. The women tell them not to touch their things, but they just take them anyway. They only know how to rape defenceless women and rob our village. Every time they see our women, they just want to rape them. It is the SLORC who are the insurgents against us, not the other way around.

Sah Naw Klu Mo, F, 70: The SLORC army took nearly all my paddy. I told them that I have to keep my grandchild fed, because his mother died only a few days ago, but they wouldn't listen. So they took all my paddy, and other things too. Pa Lah Bwe Mo, F, 70: The soldiers stole one pig, and I tried to keep a hen in my room but they took it from me by force. I couldn't resist them because I am too old and one of my hands is crippled. When I tried to take back my hen and rice, the soldier grabbed my crippled hand and twisted it.

Lah Pweh Mo, F, 70: The SLORC took 1 hen and a tin of rice. The soldiers told me to chase and catch my cat for them, but I refused - I said that in our village there's a tradition of never giving away or selling cats. The soldier said he needed the cat to cure his malaria. I quarrelled with them and they threatened me. The next morning, they called me and ordered me to carry their military kit-bag, and they asked me where I was hiding my daughter. I told them I had no daughter, and asked "How could I hide a daughter from you?" Then they ordered me to carry the kit-bag, but I begged them not to - I told them I can't even carry water for myself, because I am too old. Then they let me go.

Ma Oo Mo, F, 28: The SLORC soldiers searched my whole house, and took my pig and a sarong.

Ma Lawah Po Mo, F, 33: The SLORC stole a tin of rice, and they tried to steal a hen but I raised my hand and said to them, "Other people call you Sia [teacher], but you only do things by force." Then the soldier threatened to kill me. He searched the house and took 4 hens and a machete.

Ba Ta Mo, F, 48: The SLORC took 4 hens and a tin of rice. They searched my whole house.

Ma Teh Mo, F, 40: The SLORC stole 10 hens, a goat and my daughter's pair of pants from my house. Then they called me to them and beat me. I said, "I'm not your enemy. Why do you have to beat me?"

Ma Ni Mo, F, 35: They stole a pig, an axe and a hen.

Ma Chi Mo, F, 63: They took one pot, a sleeping mat, a kettle and 10 viss of betel nut.

Pa De Say Mo, F, 55: The SLORC killed my pig, and stole one machete, a viss of salt and my betel nut. I went and asked for my machete back, and the soldiers pointed a sharp knife at me and said, "Be careful - you are only a mouthful, not a potful." [meaning "I can kill you easily if I like"].

Sah Weh Mo, F, 33: The soldiers came to my house, took one sarong, and also kicked down many of my things from their places and tore some of my clothes.

Ku Paw Mo, F, 28: They took a viss of my salt and just poured it out on the path. They also took my cucumber seeds, but that's all, because I'd hidden everything else in the bush.

Ma San Yo Mo, F, 42: The SLORC soldiers came to my house but they saw nothing to steal, so they beat me with a big bamboo stick. Then I sat down and cried.

Ma Mi Eh, F, 27: They took my 2 hens because that's all they saw.

Pa Li Mo, F, 33: They stole 2 plates and about 32 tinfuls of rice. They saw nothing else to take, so they said they wanted to kill us all, roast us and eat us just to teach us a lesson.

Sah Eh Mo, F, 35: The soldiers stole my 2 pigs, one hen and one viss of jackary.

Ma Mi Eh, F, 30: The soldiers took 2 hens, one knife, and a tin of rice from me.

Ma Chi, F, 25: The soldiers took 3 kilos of rice, 4 hens, and searched my whole house.

Ma Neh, F, 21: They searched the whole house, took one pig, 3 hens, one sarong, a kilo of rice and some coconuts.

Ma Che Mo, F, 50: The soldiers searched my whole house and abused us, and also took 2 kilos of rice, 5 hens and a sarong.

Ma Shwe, F, 32: They took all our cups, pans, pots, and even our cutlery, and they destroyed the kitchen area of our house. I didn't dare face them - I had to run away from my house while they were there.

Ma Eh Mo, F, 40: The SLORC took my 2 goats, but they found nothing else in my house so they abused me.

To Eh Mo, F, 27: When the soldiers entered the village I ran. When I came back, they'd stolen 2 pans, 4 plates, and a machete, and they'd destroyed my house.

Pa La Dweh Mo, F, 48: They took 2 kilos of rice, 2 pans, 4 spoons, a machete and 1 viss of salt. The soldiers swore at us and frightened us, and took everything by force.

Nah Klo Mo, F, 60: The SLORC patrol came and took my 30-viss pig, 10 kilos of rice, 10 hens, and my pots and spoons. They tried to frighten me by threatening to hit me and raising their hands against me.

Twe Ma Mo, F, 25: The soldiers took my 2 hens, 2 pigs, 5 pots, plates and spoons, an axe and 2 spades, and they told me to go find my husband or else I would have to be a porter for them. Tah Sah Mo, F, 40: The SLORC soldiers took my things, and they said I was too talkative and ordered me to go to their officer. I refused, but they said, "You have to go".

Moo Pweh Mo, F, 33: They took 4 kilos of rice from me, and they killed one of my pigs to eat and left the carcass under the house, where it smelled really bad. They also took my blanket and 2 pots.

Pa Ta Chi Mo, F, 30: They came and tried to take a family of hens, but I took them back, and then they said they'd burn my house down. They said this to frighten me, and then they took a pig. I tried to get it back but I couldn't before they killed it. I tried to argue with them, but they forced my things from me. I told them how evil they are and how wrong it is to rob everything in people's houses, and then they threatened again to burn my house down.

Ma Tha U Mo, F, 25: They took a hen, and also threatened to burn my house down.

Sah Ka Paw Mo, F, 45: The soldiers took 4 kilos of rice, 4 hens, one pig and a pot.

Naw Kati, F, 33: A soldier tried to steal my hen, and when I resisted he accused me of trying to take his gun, so I had to stop struggling and let him take the hen. He kicked me, and then he took the hen away.

Zaw Oo Mo, F, 40: When they came to my house, I went to a friend's house and avoided them. They stole my things while I was gone, and then they told me not to bother going back to my house because there was nothing left there. They took everything I had.

Kwa Li Mo, F,70: They came and stole my rice and a big pot.

Naw Dah, F, 35: The soldiers took my one pig, 10 hens, 2 ducks and a pot, and they searched my whole house.

Naw Myai Mo, F, 28: They entered my house and stole a box full of clothes, a pot, a machete, a spoon, and a pig. They yelled at me and tried to frighten me, demanding I tell them where I was hiding my things. They took all that we had in the house.

La Koo Mo, F, 50:The soldiers stole my pig, 4 pots, a tin of rice and 3 hens.

Ta Kloo Mo, F, 25: They searched my whole house and took my rice, pots, plates, and hens.

Naw Mo Mo, F, 47: They stole 1 pig from me.

Say Yay Mo, F, 35: The soldiers stole a pig that weighed 20 viss, 15 hens and a tin of rice from me.

Kyaw Thu Mo, F, 20: The SLORC took 3 men's and one woman's sarongs, 3 pots, 5 plates, 8 hens and 6 viss of sesame paste.

Po Chi Mo, F, 60: They stole my 6 kilos of rice and 3 pots.

Cha Tay Mo, F, 30: The soldiers stole my 3 goats.

Twe No Mo, F, 38: They stole a goat, 5 hens, and 3 pots.

Ah Nay Mo, F, 57: They stole 2 goats, 2 pigs, a cat and 2 hens.

Tha Ghay, F, 21: The soldiers took 20 kilos of rice, 50 tins of paddy and a tin of sesame paste.

Paw Thay Ya Mo, F, 20: They stole my 2 pots, my axe, a machete and my spoons.

Say Po, M, 28: They took 8 tins of paddy, a pig and a goat.

Aye Chi, F, 23: They stole my pots, plates, a tin of sesame paste, 4 men's and 3 women's sarongs, and my children's clothes.

Nah Ree, F, 20: They took a machete, my kettle, 3 viss of sesame paste and other things too.

Thay Shwe, M, 56: The soldiers took 5 pots, plates and spoons, a machete and a woman's sarong.

Nah Pwah, F, 32: They took 4 kilos of rice, 2 plates and some spoons.

Ma Lah, F, 23: They stole my 3 hens, 10 coconuts, an axe, an iron and a sarong.

Naw Dah, F, 30: They stole my rice, sticky rice, and sesame paste.

Pi Nyo Win, F, 70: They took a machete and 20 coconuts.

Tin Nyo Mo, F, 77: They stole 2 goats, 10 hens, 4 kilos of rice, spoons and an axe from me.

Ma Pe Leh Mo, F, 54: They took my 21 tins of paddy, a pig, a pot and a spade.

Eh Klu Mo, F, 40: They took 10 coconuts and 1 viss of fishpaste.

Naw Sheh, F, 14: The SLORC took 2 boxes of clothes, 5 goats, 5 hens, and 6 plates from us. The SLORC also killed my father when they came before.

Naw Shwe, F, 35: The soldiers took my 2 pots, plates, sleeping mats, a sarong and a tin of paddy.

Ha Koo Pa, M, 31: They stole a pig, 2 sarongs and 400 Kyat from me.

Naw Nyah, F, 40: The SLORC ordered us out of our house onto the ground, and then they went in and took 10 goats, 2 pots, a hen, a machete, 5 kilos of rice, a tin of sesame paste, 2 pumpkins and my cucumbers.

Saw Koo Mo, F, 20: They took my rice, coconuts, plates, and a bundle of children's clothes.

Mo To To Mo, F, 25: The SLORC stole my 2 hens, 4 kilos of rice, and a machete.

Ko Leh Mo, F, 62: They took a tin of my rice, 2 tins of sesame paste and a viss of salt. They didn't get my clothes because I took them with me when I ran away. They left me with only 2 tins of rice, and I had to give that to villagers who were left with none, so now I have none either.

Meh Meh, F, 47: The SLORC took our pig and one machete, and they searched the whole house. We had to hide all our possessions before they came to our house.

Ma Lah, F, 56: The soldiers took 2 kilos of rice and 3 viss of betel nut, and they searched the whole house.

Ma Ti, F, 44: We hid all our things, so they searched our whole house but only got 2 plates.

Mah Wah Mo, F, 60: They stole 2 hens and a shirt from me.

Naw Teh, F, 35: They came and took one pig, 2 pots, and 2 spoons from us.

Cha Leh, M, 67: The soldiers stole some rice, 1 duck, and 2 viss of sesame paste from me.

Tha Eh Mo, F, 47: They stole 10 viss of betel nut, some rice, and a hen.

Ah Lah Gyi, M, 44: The soldiers searched the whole house, and took a pig, 1 hen, and some rice.

Theh Theh Mo, F, 52: The SLORC took my eggs, hens, and a machete. They searched my whole house with a torch.

Nay Saw Mo, F, 60: The soldiers stole some rice, a box of tobacco, and 75 Kyat. Then they tried to take the pig under my house by force. I kept telling them that they had to leave, but they threatened me and took the pig anyway.

Kay Mo, F, 23: Soldiers searched my whole house, and took a hen and a pot.

Bay Lay Mo, F, 48: I had a pig and 20 small tins of rice stolen.

Ma Chi Mo, F, 53: They searched my house and took 1 pig, 1 hen, and my axe.

Ah Moo Lay, F, 28: The SLORC soldiers took my 5 hens, some rice, 6000 Kyat, and my machete.

Ma Chi Mo, F, 59: I lost 8 hens, a tin of rice, and a machete.

Kaw Moo Mo, F, 40: They took 3 hens, a duck and a tin of rice.

Meh Kee Mo, F, 60: From me they stole a tin of rice, a tin of fishpaste, a machete, a duck and a hen. They searched my whole house.

Wah Kay Mo, F, 76: They stole 3 hens and one of my grandchildren's sarongs.

Ma Tha Yee, F, 27: They took a tin of rice from me.

Shwe Way Mo, F, 67: I had 3 hens taken.

Nah Wah Mo, F, 42: The SLORC stole 8 hens and a tin of rice from me. When I tried to get my hens back, they threatened to shoot me.

Tah Kay Mo, F, 33: They stole 1 tin of rice, betel nut, my son's shirt, and my cat.

Ma Ni Mo, F, 60: The soldiers took 4 tins of rice and a tin of betel nut from me. They yelled at me and tried to frighten me.

Mya Chi Mo, F, 65: They stole 10 viss of betel nut and a hen from me.

Na Too Mo, F, 60: They took 4 hens, rice and a machete from my house.

Eh Mya Mo, F, 68: I lost 1 hen and a tin of rice. They searched my whole house and constantly threatened us.

Pah Wah Mo, F, 60: They stole my 80 coconuts, 10 viss of betel nut and 10 bars of soap. They searched everywhere.

Na Wah Mo, F, 53: They took away 4 hens, 2 pots, sleeping mats, 2 plates and the bean seeds we needed to plant.

Mi Oo Mo, F, 47: They stole a pot and a cloth bag from me. They searched my whole house, and kept threatening and yelling at us. They said that we must worship them like the Buddha.

Meh Koo, F, 33: The soldiers stole 2 hens, a duck, 2 tins of rice, 3 plates and our baby's cradle.

Mya So Mo, F, 43: They searched my whole house and took 4 hens and a tin of rice.

Pa Peloh Mo, F, 62: They took my pot, cooking oil, and all the candles we use to worship at the pagoda.

Shwe Eh Mo, F, 25: The SLORC searched my whole house, and they stole a tin of rice, a hen, and my son's shirt. They tried to accuse me of hiding weapons, and said if they found any they would kill me. I just told them, "How could we be hiding weapons? We've never even touched a weapon before."

Keh Way Lay, F, 25: The SLORC searched my whole house and took one plate and 2 tins of rice. They also tried to catch my pig, but it got away from them.

Mo Chi Mo, F, 40: The soldiers stole a pig, 7 tins of rice, and 4 viss of sesame paste from my house. They searched everywhere, and they yelled at us and tried to frighten us.