Thaton Situation Update: Bilin and Hpa-an townships, June to November 2014

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Thaton Situation Update: Bilin and Hpa-an townships, June to November 2014

Published date:
Monday, February 23, 2015

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Bilin and Hpa-an townships, Thaton District during the period between June to November 2014, including forced recruitment, arbitrary taxation, ongoing militarisation and non-governmental organisation (NGO) activity.

  • On June 4th 2014, the Thaung Kyan Thu Hsa Kyin Yay A Pwe (Tha Ka Hsa Hpa) anti-insurgency group led by Moe Nyo forcibly recruited soldiers in Bilin Township. Villages in four village tracts were required to provide recruits based on the number of households in the village.
  • Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalion #1014, which is based in Hpa-an Township, have three army camps which arbitrarily demand tax from cow and buffalo traders. These BGF camps are Law Poo, Meh Poo and Pah Paw army camps.

  • Since the ceasefire, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Save the Children and Bridge Asia Japan (BAJ) are entering Bilin and Hpa-an townships and implementing local development projects. Most of the projects involve building schools and clinics, providing solar panels, as well as providing access to a water supply.

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in eastern Burma/Myanmar to document individual human rights abuses 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 situation updates, community members are encouraged to summarise recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important, and present their opinions or perspective on abuse and other local dynamics in their area.

[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] 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.

[4] Tha Ka Hsa Hpa is an abbreviation of Thaung Kyan Thu Hsa Kyin Yay A Pwe, which means ‘anti-insurgency group’ in Burmese. This militia was formed in 2010 by Moe Nyo, a former Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) leader, who split from the DKBA after it transitioned into a Border Guard Force (BGF). Moe Nyo eventually joined the Burma/Myanmar government controlled BGF in Battalion #1014, while still continuing to operate Tha Ka Hsa Hpa. See “Incident Report: Forced recruitment in Thaton District #1, May 2012,” KHRG, May 2013.

[5] See Thaton Situation Update: Hpa-an and Bilin townships, July to September 2013,” KHRG, November 2014 and “Incident Report: Forced recruitment in Thaton District #1, May 2012,” KHRG, May 2013.

[6] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the January 19th 2015 official market rate of 1,031 kyat to the US $1.

[7] 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.

[8] The Karen National Defence Organisation (KNDO) was formed in 1947 by the Karen National Union and is the precursor to the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). Today the KNDO refers to a militia force of local volunteers trained and equipped by the KNLA and incorporated into its battalion and command structure; its members wear uniforms and typically commit to two-year terms of service.

[9] For more information on SDC projects in Thaton District in 2014, see “Thaton Short Update: Bilin Township, October 2014,” KHRG, February 2015.

[10] A big tin is a unit of volume used to measure paddy, milled rice and seeds. One big tin is equivalent to 10.45 kg. or 23.04 lb. of paddy, and 16 kg. or 35.2 lb. of milled rice.