Situation Update | Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District (June to November 2014)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in November 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 seven interviews and 36 photographs.
[This report covers events] in Bu Tho Township from June until November 2014. As of November 10th 2014, the issue of human rights violations had not been resolved because Burmese soldiers have not ceased their activities and plan many different [operations in Karen areas]. Between September and October 2014 the [key] event that took place was the Burma government taking over the Ta La A’Aw Hkoh region for the construction of a dam in the Kay Doh area [on the Salween River].
Main Subject [Land Confiscation]
The State Peace and Development Council’s [SPDC] military was active from September to October 2014. The battalions that are based in Hpapun [District], such as Infantry Battalion [IB] #19, Light Infantry Battalion [LIB] #642, LIB #340, LIB #341 and LIB #434, have been active and the soldiers who are [posted] at the camp’s gate [as guards] are armed, which [makes it] frightening for villagers to move around. In addition, on August 17th 2014, LIB #434 and [Burma/Myanmar] government land officers from the Farm Utilisation Department cooperated [with each other] and confiscated land, including villagers’ farms.
In November 2014, LIB #341 planned to go around to villages within arm’s reach [under their control] to distribute solar panels. They also requested that village heads tell [them about] anything that they need help with so that they can assist them [villagers]. [Also] in November 2014, an unknown officer [from] LIB #341 asked Saw G---, a villager from W--- village, to hold a tin of milk while the officer acted as if he was giving it to the villager. [The officer] asked his man [a private from LIB #341] to take a photo [of him with Saw G---] but [in the end] he did not give it [tin of milk] to the villager. The villager [Saw G---] said, “I have no idea what he was trying to do.”
On November 1st 2014, there was a landmine explosion at Klaw Poh Mee [camp], Hkaw Poo village tract, beside the road. The [shrapnel from the] landmine hit the eye of a villager’s buffalo and blinded it. The [landmine] explosion took place close to the Burmese [Tatmadaw] temporary camp on the outskirts of Klaw Poh Mee camp and villagers could not identify exactly which [armed] group planted it.
Civilians in Bu Tho Township mostly do farming and hill farming. In 2014, the thing [animal] that destroyed the paddies were the rats, [while] the paddy [also] did not produce much rice and insects consumed [much of] the rice. The weather was [also] inclement. In a six [month] period [June to November] there was no activity such as military attacks or the [destruction of] property. [However], some villagers who work [on farms] close to the Burma [Tatmadaw] military camp worry, remain afraid and work quickly because the Burma [Tatmadaw] military situation is not like before. [Now], they move around more often with the military tools [weapons] and they are [sometimes] in position [on duty] at night time.
Children and their education
[Most] children are getting the [opportunities] that they are supposed to receive regarding education, but some children no longer have an opportunity [to learn] as they wish because their parents cannot afford further education for them. The reason why they cannot support their children [in further education] is because of livelihood problems.
In this situation update, I [have] mentioned about the armed group situation since November 2014. The armed groups have a different perspective [on the current situation in comparison to local villagers]. Now, mostly the civilians are hoping that the peace will be a real peace.