Hpa-an Incident Report: Stone mining damages villagers’ fields in Paingkyon Township, March 2013

e-mail
Published date:
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This Incident Report describes the destruction of farmland belonging to M--- villagers as a result of stone mining in March 2013. The mining work in question was carried out by Border Guard Force Officer (Battalion Commander) Lah Thay without the consent of villagers living in the area. Villagers living in A--- village expressed concerns that should the mining project continue, their farm plots would be completely destroyed.

Incident Report | Paingkyon Township, Hpa-an District (March 2013)

The following Incident Report was written by a community member in Hpa-an District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor local human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security.[1] This report was received in June 2013 along with other information from Hpa-an District, including one other incident report, one situation update and 319 photographs[2].

Part 1 – Incident Details

Type of Incident

BGF mining stone and damaging farms

Date of Incident(s)

March 1st 2013

Incident Location

(Village, Township and District)

M--- village, Paw village tract, Paingkyon Township, Hpa-an District

 

Victim Information

Name

Naw T---

Age

60

Sex

Female

Nationality

Pwo Karen

Family   

Married

Occupation

Farming

Religion

Buddhist

Position

Villager

Village

M---

 

Perpetrator Information

Name(s)              

Rank

Unit

Base

Commander’s Name

Officer Lah Thay

Battalion Commander

BGF [Border Guard Force][3] Battalion #1017

Ko Ko

Maung Chit Thu

 

Part 2 - Information Quality

1. Explain in detail how you collected this information.

On April 6th 2013, I went to M--- village and met with some of M---’s villagers, including a farm owner who has suffered because of this incident. I asked her about the stone mining occurring beside her farm. She told me that Officer [Battalion Commander] Lah Thay came and mined for stone beside her farm and he did not inform her. She told me that she dares not tell anyone because she worries that people will harm her.

 

2. Explain how the source verified this information.

Regarding this incident, the female farm owner worries that if BGF Officer [Battalion Commander] Lah Thay continues mining [in the same area] the cliff will completely erode and destroy her farm. Therefore, she told me what she saw and the information is true.

Part 3 – Complete Description of the Incident

Describe the Incident(s) in complete detail. For each incident, be sure to include 1) when the incident happened, 2) where it happened, 3) what happened, 4) how it happened, 5) who was involved, and 6) why it happened. Also describe any villager response(s) to the incident, the aftermath and the current living situation of the victims. Please use the space prepared below, and create an attachment if needed.

The incident happened on March 1st 2013, beside M--- village, usually called S--- [by local people]. BGF Officer [Battalion Commander] Lah Thay went to mine stone and rock to sell to road construction [companies]. He hired Burmese people to come and split the stone. He hires them for daily [labour] and pays them per basket. The place which is shown in the photos [below] is located above Naw T---’s farm and is where they started working. If they continue to mine there, the entire cliff will erode and damage [Naw T---‘s] farm. Lay Hkaw Htees are farms that are located along the bottom of a cliff. Those farms are not owned by one person, instead there are many owners. They [farmers] work on them one [villager] per plot. The other land owners [next to Naw T---’s plot] are also worried, [as their plots were damaged too]. This land owner [Naw T---] tried to report it to the village leaders and the [local] BGF leader whom she knows. She asked people [village elders] to assist her to tell the BGF Officer [Battalion Commander] Lah Thay to consider [the damage done] and provide fair compensation for her farm. However, I have not heard any answer [about whether they will receive compensation] yet. They [villagers] all said that they would find a way to get compensation for their farms [which were damaged]. Moreover, all of the farm owners would gather together and go to the BGF’s top leaders. For their security, they will rely on some BGF leaders whom they are friendly with and also the village leaders. They will also inform the [local] monk about the incident. This is one of their strategies when they are suffering from difficult [issues].

Part 4 - Permission for Using the Details

Did the victim(s) provide permission to use this information? Explain how that permission was provided.

The farm owners allowed us to use this information. The reason is because currently they are not afraid of the armed actors like they were in the past. So they asked us to help them stop this incident [from happening again] or help them receive compensation. Some farm owners have already attended a village agency workshop conducted by KHRG.[4] They will consider it [the incident] and write up a report and share it in future workshops.

 

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in eastern Burma/Myanmar to document individual incidents of abuse 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 writing incident reports, community members are encouraged to document incidents of abuse that they consider to be important, by verifying information from multiple sources, assessing for potential biases and comparing to local trends.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in eastern Burma/Myanmar, 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] Border Guard Force (BGF) battalions of the Tatmadaw were established in 2010, and they are composed mostly of soldiers from former non-state armed groups, such as older constellations of the DKBA, which have formalised ceasefire agreements with the Burmese government and agreed to transform into battalions within the Tatmadaw. BGF battalions are assigned four digit battalion numbers, whereas regular Tatmadaw infantry or light infantry battalions are identified by two or three-digit battalion numbers.  For more information, see “DKBA officially becomes Border Guard ForceDemocratic Voice of Burma, August 2010, and, “Exploitation and recruitment under the DKBA in Pa’an District,” KHRG, June 2009.

[4] KHRG facilitates village agency workshops at the community level which provide a space for villagers to share their experiences and support their self-protection strategies by gaining knowledge about international human rights standards and available national mechanisms that they can use to claim their rights.