Situation Update | Kyonedoe Township, Dooplaya District (January to August 2013)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in September 2013. It was written by a community member in Dooplaya 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 26 photographs from Dooplaya District.
I am reporting about the politics, campaign, health, education and the human rights situation of the villagers in Kyonedoe Township, where many groups such as the Thein Sein [Burma] government, BGF [Border Guard Force], DKBA [Democratic Benevolent Army], KPF [Karen Peace Force] and KPC [KNU/KNLA-Peace Council] are operating when I went there from January to August 2013.
Government and the BGF
Sometimes, the operations column [Tatmadaw] arrives in A--- village, B--- village, C--- village, D--- village or E--- village. When they arrive [in those villages], they order the village administrator to come to them and when the village administrator arrives, they [village administrator] provides them with one to two viss (1.6 kg. or 3.52 lb. to 3.2 kg. or 7.04 lb.) of chicken. When the other [armed] groups come, he also provides for them, as he provides food for guests. The column commander [once] asked whether the DKBA or KNU soldiers come to the village and they [the village administrator] answered to him that sometimes they [DKBA or KNU] come, but sometimes they do not. He [the column commander] asked what they [DKBA or KNU] come and do, and they [village administrator] replied that they come for community development, such as for education and health. He [the column commander] said that during the ceasefire period, we [Tatmadaw] do not need to be afraid of gunfire. He slept [column commander] in some villages, but in some villages he just asked questions and left.
Some members of the BGF cooperate with the rich people from other areas and they sell the Dali Reserve Forest for 270,000 kyat (US $273.56) per acre and nearly all of the land from the forest reserve is to be sold. Since November 30th 2012, they sold 100 acres of the forest reserve near Moo Wah [village] and the rest of the forest became a new rubber plantation.
KPF and KPC
The groups cooperate with the rich stone miners and some of their members get involved in selling the forest land.
Lieutenant Aung Yin’s company set up their office in A’Le Kyun village and they collect taxes for rubber plantations, phones and logging machines from the villages to which they can reach [villages in close proximity to the office].
The villagers mainly do hill field farming, flat field farming and plantation for their livelihood. Now, the areas of forest have become narrower year by year for hill field farming. The reason is because of deforestation and an increasing number of rubber plantations. Because of that reason [the deforestation], the area has become warmer and the places [paddies] have dried up. The climate has changed so seriously that some of the villagers are suffering from difficulties.
The KNU [KNLA], Thein Sein government [Tatmadaw], BGF, DKBA, KPF and KPC armed groups are controlling the area and the villages need to give [fulfil] the demands from all groups for taxes, donations for the special days, religion, health and education. When the villagers face difficulties, they are not sure which group they have to report to or which group they have to rely on. The culprit often becomes [joins a different armed group after committing a crime], such as the BGF, DKBA, KPC or KPF, so that [the problem] is difficult to solve and the one who reports about the abuse [to the group] would also be in trouble.
On July 11th 2013, about at 9:00 am, BGF Battalion #1012 held [a meeting] led by Battalion Commander Saw P’Loo in Kyonedoe Township in a monastery chapel and there were over 150 people from two villages who attended the ceremony. The people who attended the ceremony [included]:
(1) Kyonedoe Township KNU Campaign [Committee member] Director Saw Kyaw Kaw [and] Kyonedoe Township KNU Campaign Committee [member] Saw Hsa Yoo Moo;
(2) KNDO [Karen National Defence Organisation] Battalion #6 Commander Saw Hpah Ni and KNDO Battalion #6 Deputy Commander Mahn Nyunt Maung;
(3) DKBA Klo Htoo Baw Lieutenant Saw Moo Say;
(4) BGF Battalion #1012 Commander Saw P’Loo; and
(5) KPC Company Commander Mahn Hkin Lin.
In that public conference, they discussed and explained about health, education, land and religious issues.
From the DKBA, Moo Say said that, even though our [military] structures, clothes and logos are not the same, we are still human beings and we also hold the four principles of Saw Ba U Gyi firmly.
From the BGF, Saw P’Loo said that, “We do not want to be BGF but we have to be members because of the situation. If you take out my blood, it is still Karen blood.”
As the villagers are facing difficulties, and in order to benefit something [from the meeting], they reported [asked the armed actors] to help them by building the school in Tha Main Doot, as it is not finished yet, and [they asked if] the groups [could] provide 1,000,000 kyat (US $1,013.17) to each village. Some of the civilians said that the public conference and the support for renovating school building were led by the BGF battalion commander; they persuaded the community to trust them. They try to show the civilians that, even though they are separate [from the KNU] they are good and united for the Karen people. In 2011, they met and held a public conference with the SPDC [Burma] government but nothing has happened. Would it be fine for the villagers if there is only the ceasefire process? The villagers reported to them that now [since the 2012 ceasefire], the only improvement is that there is no fighting, but the villagers have to provide items, such as rations, petrol fees for cars and motorbikes to many groups [armed actors], which costs more money for villagers.
There is no special information related with education [health].
In our region, the Norway NGO [Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI)] and UNICEF [United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund] cooperate and are building three schools with no consultation [from the residents].
I would like to report that in the campaign area [of multiple authorities] of Kyonedoe Township, because the armed groups have taken control, I predict that there will be land issues, no rule of law and the civilians might face many difficulties