Hpapun Interview: Saw A---, January 2015

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Hpapun Interview: Saw A---, January 2015

Published date:
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This Interview with Saw A--- describes events and issues occurring in Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District, during January 2015, including improvements in education, villager opinions about the ceasefire, and land confiscation.  

  • The Karen Education Department (KED) said they will raise each teachers' salaries from 4,500 baht (US $133.48) to 7,500 baht (US $222.47) per year starting in 2014 in B--- village.

  • Saw A--- expressed his opinion on the ceasefire agreement between the Burma/Myanmar government and the Karen National Union (KNU), saying that he does not have faith in the current ceasefire.

  • Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #340 confiscated villagers’ land in Hpapun area and put up a sign declaring it to be the battalion’s land. The villagers remain the legal landlords but the LIB is exercising de-facto control. The interviewee’s brother had submitted a complaint about this to the KNU Land Department several times in 2014 and, although he was told the land will be returned, there has been no observed progress towards land reclamation or compensation.

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in southeast 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 southeast 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] 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.

[4] 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.

[5] A Standard refers to a grade in the Burmese education system. Primary school runs from Standard 1 to Standard 4, middle school is Standards 5-8 and high school is Standards 9-10.

[6] The Karen National Union's Education Department. The main goals of the KED are to provide education, as well as to preserve Karen language and culture. During the civil war in Burma/Myanmar the KED became the main organisation providing educational services in the KNU controlled areas in southeast Burma/Myanmar. The KED also previously oversaw the educational system in the seven refugee camps along the Thai-Burma/Myanmar border, however in 2009 these activities were restructured under the Karen Refugee Committee – Education Entity (KRCEE). See "Conflict Erupts over Govt teachers deployed to KNU areas," Karen News, August 20th 2013, and the KRCEE website:  'About,' accessed July 9th 2015.

[7] All baht to US $ conversions in this report are based on the June 15th 2015 exchange rate of 33.7125 baht to US $1.

[8] All kyat to US $ conversions in this report are based on the June 15th 2015 exchange rate of 1,112.48 kyat to US $1.

[9] A bowl is a unit of volume used to measure paddy, milled rice and seeds. One bowl is equivalent to 1.28 kg. or 2.88 lb. of paddy, and 2 kg. or 4.4 lb. of milled rice.  A bowl is also equivalent to 2 mess tins, 8 milk tins, or 1/8 of a big tin.

[10] A viss is a unit of weight equivalent to 1.6 kg. or 3.52 lb.

[11] 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.

[12] For further details about the renewed fighting in Kachin State, see “Hundreds flee new fighting in Myanmar's north,” Al Jazeera, January 2015.

[13] The interviewee is likely referring to a high-profile incident from November 19th 2014 near Laiza in which 22 cadets who were training for combat at Jawng Rung base died and at least another 15 were injured due to artillery shelling by the Tatmadaw military base at Hkarabum. The killed cadets were from the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA), All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) and Chin National Front (CNF), all allies of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). See, “22 Dead as Burma Army Fires on Kachin Military Academy, Rebels Say,” The Irrawaddy, November 2014; and “Laiza shelling fatalities were from KIO allies, ABSDF, AA, CNF, TNLA,” Kachin News, November 2014.

[14] The interviewee is likely referring to another high-profile incident that occurred in January 2015 in northern Shan State and involved the rape and murder of two ethnic Kachin school teachers. The murders are widely believed to have been perpetrated by Tatmadaw soldiers who had recently arrived in the area. For more information see, “2 Kachin teachers found dead in Shan State,” The Irrawaddy, January 2015; and “2 Kachin teachers brutally raped and killed by Burmese Army,” Burma Campaign UK, January 2015.

[15] For more information on incidents of forced labour in Hpapun District prior to the 2012 preliminary ceasefire, see, “Papun Interview: Saw T---, December 2011,” KHRG, July 2012; “Incident Report: Papun District, June 2011,” KHRG, May 2012; and “Papun Interview: Saw H---, March 2011,” KHRG, February 2012.

[16] Light Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprised of 500 soldiers. However, most Light Infantry Battalions in the Tatmadaw are under-strength with less than 200 soldiers. Primarily for offensive operations but sometimes used for garrison duties.

[17] Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprised of 500 soldiers. However, most Infantry Battalions in the Tatmadaw are under-strength with less than 200 soldiers. Primarily for garrison duty but sometimes used in offensive operations.