Hpa-an Field Report: January to December 2013


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Hpa-an Field Report: January to December 2013

Published date:
Monday, January 19, 2015

This Field Report includes information submitted by KHRG researchers describing events occurring in Hpa-an District between January and December 2013. The report describes human rights violations, including drug production, sale and use, especially in Nabu Township; landmines and restrictions on the freedom of movement, land confiscation, arbitrary taxation, forced labour, extrajudicial killings and fighting between armed groups causing injury to civilians. The report also documents issues important to the local communities, such as access to education.


[1] 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 battalions are assigned two digit battalion numbers and 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.

[2] The KNU/KNLA Peace Council (also called the Karen Peace Council or KPC), is an armed group based in Htoh Gkaw Ko, Hpa-an District, which split from the Karen National Union (KNU) in 2007 and subsequently refused to comply with orders from the then-SPDC government to transform its forces into the Tatmadaw Border Guard. See: “KPC to be outlawed if it rejects BGF,” Burma News International, August 30th 2010.

[3] The Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), formerly the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, was formed in December 1994 and was originally a breakaway group from the KNU/KNLA that signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burma/Myanmar government and directly cooperated at times with Tatmadaw forces. The formation of the DKBA was led by monk U Thuzana with the help and support of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the name of the military government in Burma/Myanmar at that time. For more information on the formation of the DKBA, see "Inside the DKBA," KHRG, 1996. The DKBA now refers to a splinter group from those DKBA forces reformed as Tatmadaw Border Guard Forces, also remaining independent of the KNLA. As of April 2012, the DKBA changed its name from "Buddhist" to "Benevolent" to reflect its secularity.

[4] On January 12th 2012, a preliminary ceasefire agreement was signed between the KNU and Burma/Myanmar government in Hpa-an. Negotiations for a longer-term peace plan are still under way. 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.

[5] Yaba, which means “crazy medicine” in Thai, is a tablet form of methamphetamine. First developed in East Asia during World War II to enhance soldiers' performance, methamphetamine has become increasingly popular in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Vietnam, and in Burma/Myanmar where it is typically manufactured. See, "Yaba, the 'crazy medicine of East Asia," UNODC, May 2008 and “Woman raped and killed in Pa’an District, October 2012,” KHRG, December 2012.

[6] See “Hpa-an Situation Update: T’Nay Hsah Township, June 2012 to February 2013,” KHRG, July 2013 and “Hpa-an  Situation Update: T’Nay Hsah Township, March to May 2013,” KHRG, August 2013. This information was also included in an unpublished Situation Update from Hpa-an District received by KHRG in October 2013.

[7] Ar wer day is the name of an event that was founded by Commander Mya Hkaing, formerly of the DKBA and currently Border Guard Battalion #1016 Commander. Ar wer day events typically consist of a group of people gambling and using yaba.

[11] Oh daw a ner translates directly to “have their horns”, which means they have weapons.

[12] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the January 8, 2015 official market rate of 1026.50  kyat to the US $1.

[16] KHRG is unable to verify claims regarding which armed group may or may not have planted landmines.

[18] Light Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprised of 500 soldiers. However, most Light Infantry Battalions in the Tatmadaw are under-strength with less than 200 soldiers. Primarily for offensive operations but sometimes used for garrison duties.

[20] KHRG has received numerous reports concerning human rights violations committed by BGF Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye, including killing, forced labour, arbitrary taxation and land confiscation. See “Human rights violations by BGF Cantonment Area Commander Kya Aye in Paingkyon Township, Hpa-an District, February 2013 to July 2014,” KHRG, September 2014.

[22] Saying that monks will need to be called if the money is not paid is the equivalent of a threat to the villagers’ lives; this is clear in the original Karen language document.

[24] This information was also included in an unpublished Short Update from Hpa-an District received by KHRG in July 2013.

[28] See “Hpa-an Situation Update: Nabu Township, September to October 2013,” KHRG, June 2014.