Toungoo Interview: A---, August 2013


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Toungoo Interview: A---, August 2013

Published date:
Thursday, July 24, 2014

This Interview with A--- describes events occurring in B--- village, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District in August 2013, including arbitrary arrest, detention and violent abuse. On June 26th 2013, Tatmadaw Infantry Battalion (IB) #30 Battalion Deputy Commander Hsan Htun punched and kicked A--- and hit him with his gun before ordering him to report to the nearby Tatmadaw camp. A--- sustained serious wounds to his body, which he still suffered from at the time of the interview, and was partially blinded in one eye. A---‘s wife, a local school teacher, had attempted to negotiate with Hsan Htun when he continued to kick A--- while he was receiving initial medical treatment from a school committee member, and she subsequently reported the incident to members of the Burma legislature and to UNICEF. Despite his physical suffering and inability to work, A--- continued to be present at the Tatmadaw meetings regarding his incident. Ultimately, Operations Commander (G3) Ye Htunt provided A--- with 10,000 kyat (US $10.32) as compensation. No action was taken against Battalion Deputy Commander Hsan Htun.


[1] KHRG trains community members in eastern Burma to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in eastern Burma, KHRG aims to make all field information received available on the KHRG website once it has been processed and translated, subject only to security considerations. For additional reports categorised by Type, Issue, Location and Year, please see the Related Readings component following each report on KHRG’s Website. 

[3] This is referring to the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade #2, which comprises the same geographic area as Toungoo District.

[4] Dog fruit, also known as jengkol, is a bean containing sulphur and a mildly toxic amino acid. It is native to Southeast Asia and is commonly eaten with rice and fish paste.

[5] Operations commander (G3) refers to a lieutenant colonel or colonel. In the Tatmadaw they are also known as strategic and/or tactical commanders.

[6] The Assembly of the Union is the national legislature of Burma established by the 2008 national constitution.

[7] Nay Pyi Taw is the capital city of Burma. In 2005 the military regime moved the capital from Rangoon to a greenfield at its present location, 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of the city. See “Nay Pyi Taw now less of a ghost town,” Bangkok Post, December 11th 2013.

[8] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the July 8th 2014 official market rate of 969 kyat to the US $1.

[9] On January 12th 2012, a preliminary ceasefire agreement was signed between the KNU and Burma government in Hpa-an, the capital of Kayin State. The exact terms for a long-term peace plan are still under negotiation. For updates on the peace process, see the KNU Stakeholder webpage on the Myanmar Peace Monitor website. For KHRG's analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the ceasefire, see Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response since the 2012 ceasefire, KHRG, May 2014.

[10] Betel nut is the seed from an areca palm tree (Areca catechu) which is commonly chewed in Southeast Asia. Chewing betel nut produces a colourful red liquid which leaves a distinctive stain on surfaces.

[11] In Burmese, nyi lay is a familiar term of respect toward someone younger than you. Although it translates into ‘brother’ in English, in Burmese it does not necessarily imply actual familial ties between the ‘Brother’ and the KHRG researcher who conducted this interview.