Thaton Situation Update: Thaton Township, January to February 2015

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Thaton Situation Update: Thaton Township, January to February 2015

Published date:
Monday, October 5, 2015

This Situation Update provides information on villagers’ livelihoods, healthcare, development projects, Burma/Myanmar government military bases, and the activities of wealthy businessmen in Thaton Township, Thaton District, during the period between January and February 2015.

  • Since the signing of the preliminary ceasefire agreement, organisations such as World Concern, the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), and United Nations agencies, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have entered Thaton Township to conduct local development projects. Most of the projects are aimed at building schools, installing toilets, digging wells, distributing school materials, and conducting vocational training.
  • On February 5th 2015, Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #3, led by Battalion Deputy Commander Zay Ya Win, arrived in the area to stay in A--- monastery in order to observe the activities of the local village heads.
  • Burmese private companies have begun construction of a caustic soda factory in B--- village, Noh Ta Hsguh village tract, Thaton Township.
  • The villagers from Hpa-an and Thaton townships gathered together and held a meeting to discuss how to regain their land that was confiscated to make way for the construction of the caustic soda factory.  

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 writing situation updates, community members are encouraged to summarise recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important, and present their opinions or perspective on abuse and other local dynamics in their area.

[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] According to Burma/Myanmar government demarcations, Thaton Township is located in northern Mon State. However, according to KNU boundaries, Thaton Township, referred to as Tha Htoo, falls within Doo Tha Htoo, or Thaton District,  in Karen State.

[4] This school is partly supported by the Karen Education Department (KED) who provides the school with teaching materials, while the villagers hire and support the teachers.

[5] Here the researcher means that when students finish primary education they will go to the Burma/Myanmar government school which is located in a different area. 

[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] In 10th standard, you are aged around 15-16 years old.

[8] Backpack refers to the Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), who provide medical treatment for villagers in remote areas.

[9] Mya Sein Yaung is a loan initiative established by the Burma/Myanmar government to provide poorer communities access to capital. Further information on the Mya Sein Yaung project and villagers’ reaction in Hpapun District can be found in KHRG report: “Hpapun situation update: Bu Tho Township, February to June 2014,” KHRG, December 2014.

[10] Further information on recent BAJ activity in Thaton Township can be found in the following KHRG reports: “Thaton Incident Report: UNHCR begins development project in Bilin Township, May 2014,” and “Thaton Situation Update: Bilin and Hpa-an Townships, June to November 2014,” February 2015.

[11] Light Infantry Division (Tatmadaw); commanded by a brigadier general, each with ten light infantry battalions specially trained in counter-insurgency, jungle warfare, "search and destroy" operations against ethnic insurgents and narcotics-based armies. LIDs are organised under three Tactical Operations Commands, commanded by a colonel, (three battalions each and one reserve), one field artillery battalion, one armoured squadron and other support units.

[12] 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.

[13] Artillery #402 is based in one of these three army camps but KHRG does not know which one. 

[14] The Max Myanmar Company is owned by U Zaw Zaw, a well-known Burmese businessman who is involved in numerous industries, including rubber plantations, banking, gem stones, transportation, timber, luxury resorts, construction and mechanical engineering. His close relationship with the government affords him import concessions with regards to cars, motorcycles and fuel. He is also blacklisted by the US Treasury Department for his continued dealings with military and ex-military individuals in Myanmar. In 2013, the Max Myanmar Company was blocked by the Singaporean Stock Exchange Ltd. from merging with a Singaporean corporation due to these sanctions and accusations of human rights abuses in Myanmar.  For his profile on the Specially Designated Sanctions List of the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control, see: Office of Foreign Asset Control, Sanctions List Search, accessed on April 25th 2015 (last updated on April 23rd 2015). For more information regarding his sanctioning, and his failed merger in Singapore, see: Edward Chung Ho, “Zaw Zaw’s Singapore Takeover Bid Hits a Snag,” DVB, April 29th 2013; for a case in this reporting period where the company continued to expand their rubber plantation at the expense of local villagers.

[15] Caustic soda, commonly known as lye, is an industrial bi-product of chlorine production usually available in granular form or in ready-made solutions of varying strengths. It has several uses from the manufacturing of paper to use in detergents. It is highly corrosive and can cause severe burns to the skin and eyes.