Situation Update | Kyainseikgyi Township, Dooplaya District (December 2014 to February 2015)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in March 2015. It was written by a community member in Dooplaya 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 Dooplaya District, including 305 photographs.
When I went to meet a villager in A--- village, [the villager] said, “What should we do? If the Chinese continue mining the stone we will not have [any] fresh water [left]. The stone mining will impact the whole Ya Moo Hta River. Villagers [from A--- village] are using that river as a fresh water [source]. Local leaders planned to dig a well for us but they have not dug the well yet. Stone mining has already started, so what can we do? The development [project] will bring consequences for [the local community]. In our country [Kayin State] these things are happing in our areas [Kyainseikgyi Township].”
On February 7th 2015, I went to meet a villager in C--- village. The stone that the rich men [Maung Myat and Kyaw Aye] are currently mining is on this villager’s [land]. When he [the villager] discovered the stone [deposit], he decided to sell it for 20,000,000 kyat (US $19,446.56). At that time, Maung Myat and Kyaw Aye told him that he should not sell it. [They said], “We might do stone mining on that stone [deposit], so if you need money we will give it to you.” [Later], two companies came to do stone mining [there]. These were the Min Zaw [company] and a Chinese [company]. The Min Zaw [company] told the stone owner that they would give him an amount of [money] each year. They [Min Zaw company] have already been stone mining for four years, but only gave [the land owner] 659,000 kyat (US $640.74). Therefore, the [land] owner is not happy with what they have done. The stone that [the company] had been mining is on that [land owner’s] mango plantation, so the whole mango plantation [is now] destroyed. Some villagers from C--- [village] reported that because of the stone mining [there was] air pollution, but some of them did not report this. The villagers have no unity so [they] could not do anything.
Human rights violations [occurred] in Dooplaya District, Noh T’Kaw [Kyainseikgyi] Township, including armed groups demanding taxes in D--- village and E--- village, Noh Taw Pla village tract. [For example], [Battalion Commander] Pa Nyay’s Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) Battalion demanded a tax [from] farmers. [Farmers have to pay] them [DKBA] yearly as well as the mother organisation [KNU], who [also] demands taxation [every year]. The villagers cannot [afford to] pay the tax. [Despite this], the demand [made by the DKBA] forced villagers to [come up with the money for] the tax. The villagers said that they have to pay taxes to the mother organisation as well as the DKBA. [Villagers] only have one harvest [per year] and they have to pay taxes to the people [DKBA and KNU] so they do not have enough for themselves. They [DKBA] limited [the tax] to 5,500 kyat (US $5.35) per household. [However], they [villagers] do not want to pay [taxes to the DKBA].
The villagers have had conflict in this area [with the DKBA]. On January 17th 2015, the person who demanded tax [payment] was DKBA [Company Commander] Shin Gyi. The person who asked him [to collect the tax] is Saw Pee Dah, a platoon commander [from the DKBA]. [Previously], on July 16th 2014, the villagers had [also had] a disagreement with the DKBA for demanding the tax. They [DKBA] asked for 100,000 kyat (US $97.23) in taxes per lumber saw. [When Shin Gyi came to collect the tax, the villagers] asked him for a receipt. He [Shin Gyi] did not have a voucher so he asked for 50,000 kyat (US $48.61) [in taxes] per lumber saw. They [DKBA] asked the head villager to send the tax to them. If the head villager does not do this they will come and drown the head villager in the water. Shin Gyi is a company commander [in the DKBA].
Road construction negatively affected a villager because they [the road construction company] took the soil from a villager’s land to fill the road. Therefore, the land owner was not happy with [what the construction company did]. Realistically, they could take the soil from other places in order to fill the road. They went to take the soil from the villager’s land and the villager [was] not happy. The place that they went to take soil from was B--- [village]. The owner of the land [which they took soil from] is [originally] from F--- village.
On January 16th 2015, I came back from F--- village and sat [down] for a rest in a shop in G--- village. I saw the Tatmadaw transporting their food on nine cars. I do not know how many [Tatmadaw] members [were in the cars]. I do not know their battalion number. In the cars was food and weapons.
The armed group [Tatmadaw] based on the Ka Lee Hkee Mountain has cut down [trees or bamboo] from village reserve forests in the last two months. They used cars for transporting the bamboo [or trees] and many cars were full. The villagers are not willing to tell them [to stop logging because they are afraid]. The bamboo that they cut [was used to] repair their camp, which is on Ka Lee Hkee Mountain. They are gradually repairing their camp.