Situation Update | Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District (November 2013 to February 2014)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in March 2014. It was written by a community member in Hpapun 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. This report was received along with other information from Hpapun District, including 25 photographs.
In Bu Tho Township, some human rights abuses happened during the three-month period from November 15th 2013 to February 15th 2014. The abuses happened in Htee Th’Daw Hta village tract and Meh Pree village tract and the perpetrator was the BGF [Border Guard Force].
In Bu Tho Township, there are three different armed groups: the KNLA [Karen National Liberation Army], Tatmadaw and BGF. These three armed groups are active in Bu Tho Township. BGF soldiers are only active in Htee Th’Daw Hta village tract, Meh Pree village tract and Kyaw Pah village tract. After the ceasefire talks in 2012, the Tatmadaw’s activities have changed a little, they [are less active in the area], but have begun to use the BGF more [instead].
There are two BGF battalions operating in Bu Tho Township; they are BGF #1013 and BGF #1014. BGF #1013 is led by Commander Hla Kyaing and Battalion #1014 is led by Commander Maung Chit. The two battalions’ operational areas cover Htee Th’Daw Hta village tract and Meh Pree village tract. They have two camps which are Meh Seik army camp and Meh Pree army camp. But they don’t have permanent camp commanders, so we are not sure who the camp commanders are. On December 30th 2013, BGF #1013 soldiers and BGF #1014 soldiers used drugs while conducting an operation in Meh Pree village tract. While they were [conducting the] operation, they threatened and pointed guns at a villager in Meh Pree [village tract], Saw D---, who is 16 years old and lives in L--- [village]. Because of that D--- is afraid to go far from his village.
On January 13th 2014, a BGF #1014 soldier, [2nd Lieutenant] Hpah Tha Beh [also known as Saw Tha Beh], who is company commander of Company #3, which is operating in Htoh Hta, T’La Aw Hkoh and T’Khay Hkoh [villages], violently abused a villager from S--- village. One of his arm bones was broken and he [Hpah Tha Beh] also demanded 300,000 kyat (US$ 309.91) from him. He also said that Saw P--- [the villager who was abused] had been doing logging and had not paid [the necessary] tax. Hpah Tha Beh’s commander didn’t punish him despite what he had done. After Saw P--- was abused, he dared not go back to his home, so he just stays with the KNLA and [now he] relies on them.
During the three months, the Tatmadaw sent rations and repaired their battalion’s army camps.
As for the KNLA situation, they operate in Bu Tho Township and operate according to orders from the mother organization, the KNU. They are an armed group that doesn’t get any salary, so they work together with the villagers and rely on them [for food]. If they [act] against [the will of the villagers] or abuse any of the villagers, they would go to that villager and solve the problems. Whatever punishment their leaders give them, they will try to fulfill it and they don’t blame anyone [engage in reprisals against villagers for reporting them].
In Bu Tho Township, starting from November 2013 [and continuing] until February 15th 2014, even though the villagers didn’t have complete freedom of movement, the situation got a little better following the ceasefire talks. They were able to go [move] around and work on their livelihoods a little better compared to the past. The situation is getting a little better. There was no abuse that made them want to flee to other villages during the three month period.
Demands and Taxation
In Bu Tho Township, taxation is still happening. On January 13th 2014, BGF battalion #1014’s Company #3 commander demanded 300,000 kyat from S---villager Saw P--- and they said that Maw Kyaw Hla was a logger, and that he hadn’t paid the [necessary] tax to them.
The information in this Situation Update was collected during a three month period. I [the community member who wrote this report] haven’t started to be active [document incidents] yet, and so I got some of this information from the KNLA and some from the villagers.