Situation Update | Nabu Township, Hpa-an District (September to October 2013)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in December 2013. It was written by a community member in Hpa-an 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 Hpa-an District, including 21 photographs.
I would like to report about the Norwegian [organisation, Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI)], which came and built three schools for the villagers in my region during 2012 and 2013. In 2012, they built a school in N--- village, Noh Hpyoo village tract, T’Nay Hsah [Nabu] Township, Hpa-an District. The school was built successfully and villagers decided to hold [classes] until the 8th standard in that school. Karen literature is not taught in that school and the Karen flag is not allowed to be flown. I saw [met] some of the villagers reflecting [upon the situation] and [they] were asking themselves, “We live in a Karen village, we are the Karen ethnic group, so why can’t we learn Karen literature and why can’t we fly the Karen flag? We can only fly the Burmese flag and it means we are under control of the Burmese people. We have many Karen armed groups and I would like to tell them to take action in order for us to be able to learn our own language and to be able to fly our own flag at our village school as we are the Karen ethnic group.”
I would also like to report about the Norwegian [organisation that] helped to build a school and supports the Karen villagers in S--- village, Htee Hpoh Kyaw village tract, T’Nay Hsah Township, Hpa-an District. After the ceasefire [agreement], I saw that the villagers have been able to give [their] opinion more and they also dare to express their ideas regarding the rights that they should have in their region. In my [the researcher’s] opinion, our Karen Human Rights Group should be more active in the region. Regarding the school that I have mentioned, it is located in a very complicated area where five different armed groups are active: Tatmadaw, KNLA, KPF [Karen Peace Force], DKBA [Democratic Karen Benevolent Army] and BGF [Border Guard Force]. This is a place where villagers are injured and killed. This school was successfully [finished being] built on October 10th 2013 and all of the teachers teaching in that school are [appointed] by the Myanmar government so that the Karen people are not taught the Karen language and Karen textbooks are not produced [used]. Karen people see that this situation is not good. How can I answer the people if they ask me, “How can we solve the problem and how are we are going to discuss the problem?”
I also would like to report about M--- School, which is being supported by the Norwegian [organisation], and was finished being built on September 15th 2013. The villagers are trying hard for their children in order [for them] to be able to attend school with a higher quality so that they [the villagers] set it up until the 10th standard. It is not a school that the government set up, but it is a school in which the school [students’] parents and the leaders try [to run the school] as a self-help basic school. They understand the situation [of their village] and have worked together for a better situation for the children who need to spend money to attend school in the town. Even if they need to hire teachers, they are going to hire them. Regarding this issue, I asked them whether the Government acknowledges the students and will provide the certificate of the school, [in] which the government acknowledges them or not. They replied to me that, “We only need to have money in Myanmar. We can buy the certificate. If we pay money to the headmaster or the teacher, it is easy for us to get the certificate. The only important thing for us is for our children to be literate. If we go and learn in their school, even after ten years, they would not let our Karen children pass the exam. It’s only a waste of money and the Burmese people will only keep our Karen people below them.” This school is set up in M--- village, Keh K’La village tract, T’Nay Hsah Township, Hpa-an District.