Following the January 2012 ceasefire, villagers have consistently reported to KHRG that Burma/Myanmar Tatmadaw soldiers have moved with greater ease and frequency throughout KHRG’s research areas in southeastern Burma/Myanmar, causing feelings of insecurity and anxiety among villagers. KHRG has received information regarding various aspects of ongoing militarisation, including the Tatmadaw repairing and constructing roads for military use, resupplying their camps with ammunition and food, and strengthening and repairing camps in Toungoo, Nyaunglebin, Hpapun and Dooplaya districts in southeastern Burma/Myanmar.
In December 2013, Tatmadaw soldiers in Toungoo District transported a large amount of rations and ammunition using civilian roads. According to the villagers in the area, the Tatmadaw assigned 100 of their soldiers to provide security for the convoy, and they used more than a hundred horses for transporting the supplies. Villagers also reported that when the Tatmadaw are transporting rations and ammunition, despite the fact that the ceasefire is in place and that they are not disturbed by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), they continue to fire mortars in civilian areas to deter KNLA ambushes. As a result, villagers in Toungoo District are worried that fighting will resume again. The Tatmadaw, although they have signed the ceasefire, are transporting rations and ammunition in greater numbers than are needed, according to local civilians.
In Nyaunglebin District, the Tatmadaw sent more rations than is typical to their frontline army camps, beginning in early 2014. In past years, such as 2013, they would resupply their camps with rations using 40 trucks, or 50 trucks at the most, in one day. In 2014, villagers have reported between 60 and 70 trucks being used to transport their rations. Additionally, in 2014 this process took them three or four days, while in past years, they were able to transport their rations and return within one day. The rations the trucks transported were not for the villagers and the villagers do not know exactly where they are sending the supplies. Before the ceasefire, the villagers had to porter the rations for the Tatmadaw soldiers but presently they use a lot of trucks to transport them instead. This activity by the Tatmadaw has increased feelings of insecurity among local villagers.
In Hpapun District, in areas populated by internally displaced persons (IDPs), villagers have reported that the Tatmadaw has repaired a vehicle road, and they also have created a new vehicle track, which they built one cubit deep, due to fears that the KNLA might plant landmines on the road where they patrol and send rations. By constructing the track this way, if the KNLA planted landmines, the Tatmadaw would see them. They have also repaired and improved the trenches and fencing surrounding their camps. Additionally, the Tatmadaw fired heavy weapons during the times when they were transporting their rations and ammunition, to deter KNLA ambushes, the same tactic as that used in Toungoo District. Thus, the villagers are afraid and worried that there will be a resumption in fighting, despite the ceasefire.
In Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District, villagers reported that while they had seen a reduction in Tatmadaw patrolling and other activities, they have experienced an increased presence of two Border Guard Force (BGF) battalions (#1013 and #1014), who have been active in the area since the ceasefire. Villagers in Bu Tho Township have raised numerous concerns regarding the BGF’s soldiers and officers from these two battalions, as they have committed multiple human rights violations, including the violent abuse of villagers, as well as threatening, demanding taxation and forced labour.
In Dooplaya District, a villager reported:
"The ethnic groups [Tatmadaw and KNU] are in a ceasefire. If we look at the [current] situation, although they [Tatmadaw] said they have stopped fighting, we do not know what they have planned. They also have not withdrawn the Border Guard Force (BGF) soldiers. They [Tatmadaw] are [still] sending rations and weapons [to their camps]. We do not know what their purpose [for doing this] is. If we look at the [Thai-Burma/Myanmar] border in Kwee Ler Ter, Per Hkler and Tha Waw Thaw villages, the Tatmadaw repair their camps to be better. It is not good for the villagers [as they might harm the villagers]. It is not a good thing."
Overall, based on KHRG reporting since the 2012 preliminary ceasefire, villagers in southeastern Burma/Myanmar have experienced a reduced number of human rights violations committed by armed groups. However, when villagers see the increase in Tatmadaw military activities in the region, it increases feelings of insecurity, and makes them fear that fighting will reoccur.