Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, April 2014

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Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, April 2014

Published date:
Thursday, June 18, 2015

This Interview with Saw A--- describes events which occurred in Win Yay Township, Dooplaya District, during April 2014, including land confiscation due to road construction and stone mining, and arbitrary taxation. This report also provides an update on education.

  • A company has constructed the preliminary stage of the road between B--- village and Hpah Pra Town without consulting with villagers. As a result, many of the villagers’ rubber plantations have been destroyed without compensation.
  • The land destruction issue was reported to Karen National Union (KNU) leaders, who spoke to the construction supervising committee regarding compensation, but no compensation has been paid as of yet.
  • The same company also conducted stone mining, destroying the villagers’ rubber plantations and paddy fields. The villagers have not received any compensation for those damages either.
  • KNU soldiers that are situated near B--- village request tax from villagers travelling through the checkpoint.
  • B--- has primary and post-primary school available but the school has not been completely built yet. The villagers have requested funding from the Burma/Myanmar government to finish building the school.

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 conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[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] All kyat to US $ conversions in this report are based on the June 12th 2015 official exchange of 1,115.85 kyat for US $1.

[4] In Burma/Myanmar, 8th standard is equivalent to 9th grade. The post-primary system is out of a total of 11 grades (10 standards), after which a student may go on to attend university.

[5] The term Kaw Thoo Lei refers to Karen State as demarcated by the Karen National Union (KNU), but the exact meaning and etymology is disputed; see: Jonathan Falla. True Love and Bartholomew: Rebels on the Burmese Border, Cambridge University Press: 1991.

[6] 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.

[7] “MGC” likely stands for Myanmar Golden Crown Co. Ltd, a large Burma/Myanmar-based construction and general trading corporation. For more information on the company structure, see: http://www.mgcmyanmar.com/about.php

[8] The Mon people are believed to be some of the oldest inhabitants of Southeast Asia. Most live in the central Myanmar government demarcated areas of Mon State, located in the south of Burma/Myanmar and bordering Kayin State, Bago Region (formerly Pegu Division) and Tanintharyi Region (formerly Tenasserim Division). These areas overlap to an extent with KHRG’s research areas, which follow a locally defined system of demarcation.

[9] Loh ah pay is a Burmese term now commonly used in reference to forced labour, although traditionally referring to voluntary service for temples or the local community, not military or state projects.

[10] “Yellow Scarves” is a term commonly used by villagers to denote the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), in reference to the yellow scarves that form part of their uniform.

[11] 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.

[12] 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/Myanmar 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 Force” Democratic Voice of Burma, August 2010, and, “Exploitation and recruitment under the DKBA in Pa’an District,” KHRG, June 2009.

[13] Saw is a S’gaw Karen title used for men, before their name.

[14] Naw is a S’gaw Karen title used for women, before their name.

[15] Man is a Pwo Karen titled used for men, before their name.

[16] Sa is a Pwo Karen title used for young boys, before their name.