Between February 2013 and July 2014, KHRG received reports of ongoing human rights violations committed by Border Guard Force (BGF) Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye in Paingkyon Township, Hpa-an District. These abuses include land confiscation, killing, forced labour and arbitrary taxation. Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye, an ethnic Karen and Buddhist, is administratively responsible for BGF Battalions #1015 and #1016 in Hpa-an District. He is a powerful, well known figure in the area and is feared by villagers in Paingkyon Township. He is responsible for many of the human rights abuses in Paingkyon Township, either directly committed by him, or by BGF Battalion #1015 soldiers under his orders. Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye, also known as Hpah T’Kaw, lives in A--- village, Poh Yay Hpoo village tract, Paingkyon Township, Hpa-an District.
On February 1st 2013, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye confiscated an A--- villager’s land in Paingkyon Township in order to plant rubber trees. According to Naw B---, she had inherited this land from her parents and she holds a land title with both the Burma/Myanmar government and the KNU. She was not informed by Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye prior to the confiscation and she did not receive any compensation.
In March 2013, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye and BGF Officer Kyaw Hay confiscated 20 acres of land owned by two women from C--- and D--- villages in Paingkyon Township. The BGF soldiers demanded the women pay a total of 1,100,000 kyat (US $1,130.53) for return of the land. While the women attempted to negotiate with the BGF soldiers, they ultimately sold several of their personal belongings in order to pay for the return of their land. According to the women, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye told them that he would not disturb their land anymore, however they were not provided with any documentation to confirm this. Both women assert they inherited their lands from their parents and that they hold a title for that land with the Burma/Myanmar government.
In early July 2014, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye confiscated approximately 3 acres of land from E--- villagers who used this land to feed their cattle. Seeing that this land was uncultivated land, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye confiscated the land and measured it into small plots, which he subsequently sold to the villagers for use as commercial property.
On June 11th 2013, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye ordered the arbitrary execution of a family in F--- village, Pee T' Ka village tract, Paingkyon Township, Hpa-an district. The killings of Saw G---, his wife and two daughters, the youngest of which was 13 years old, were committed by six soldiers from BGF Battalion #1015 under the direct orders of Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye. The killings were ordered over accusations that Saw G--- had been practicing black magic. No investigation into these accusations was carried out. Saw G--- and his family were executed without question and their bodies, hut and belongings were set on fire. Soldiers also took two gold necklaces and a small amount of money from the victim’s hut.
Forced labour and arbitrary taxation
In 2013, BGF Battalion #1015 soldiers led by Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye collected tax on a variety of goods in Paingkyon Township. Two checkpoints were established in Paingkyon Township in order to collect an arbitrary tax from villagers who were transporting cows or buffalos for the purpose of trade. If villagers could not provide the requested tax, they were asked to pay the tax upon their return, after they had sold their livestock. Villagers were able to reduce the amount of tax after submitting a complaint to the local monk and other BGF commanders in the area. Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye’s soldiers also demanded an annual tax on villagers with telephone lines installed. For those who had phone lines with tall antennas for village use, BGF Battalion #1015 soldiers collected 30,000 kyat (US $30.83) per phone owner each year in every village in Paingkyon Township. Again, after negotiating with local monks and BGF leaders, the number of demands for tax were reduced in some areas. Furthermore, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye instructed his soliders to collect 5,000 kyat (US $5.14) in taxes per boat in each village in Paingkyon Township. They also demanded 50,000 kyat (US $51.39) a year per automobile. Villagers who bought wild yam and cardamom seeds in bulk for commercial use were also subject to an arbitrary tax of 250,000 kyat (US $256.94) per year. Villagers from Paingkyon Township reported that these abuses have become a regular practice.
In January 2014, Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye ordered villagers to clear land in order to plant rubber trees and build pagodas in Noh Hkwee village tract, Paingkyon Tonwship, Hpa-an District. The Cantonment Area Commander also demanded money from villagers in order to build pagodas. The villagers reported that they felt compelled to comply with the order to provide funds for construction and that they felt they lacked any means to refuse his demands.