Situation Update | Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District (June to October 2015)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in November 2015. It was written by a community member in Hpapun District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security.
[The information was documented] from June to October 2015 in Bu Tho Township about the Burma government’s activities, the Tatmadaw’s activities, Burma/Myanmar healthcare activities, education activities, the KNU’s [Karen National Union] activities, and civilian activities.
Burma/Myanmar government’s activity
In Bu Tho Township, from June to October 2015, the Burma/Myanmar government started constructing bridges and roads and they also distributed solar panels to villagers. The Burma/Myanmar government distributed solar panels in KNU controlled areas in Baw Hta, Plaw Day, and Day Law Poo villages, in Meh Klaw village tract, Bu Tho Township [but] they did not [give] prior notice to the KNU and [had] not asked for permission from the KNU. Thus, the KNU did not accept [the distribution of solar panels] and asked the villagers to return it [them] to the Burma/Myanmar [government] administrators, and most of the solar panels were [then] being sold by the administrators, but the Burma/Myanmar [government officials] did not know that the [local] administrators were selling the solar panels.
Regarding the 2015 election in Bu Tho Township, [among] the villagers who currently live near the main road between Hpapun and Ka Ma Maung [towns], some villagers’ names were not on the voter lists and [the names of] some people who [had] passed away were revealed to be on the election voter lists. In this election the villages which are Baw Hta, Noh Law Hsoo, and other villages [did not have the] names [of all their residents] on the election voter lists. Thus, they submitted [a complaint] to the Hpapun Township Election Commission but [voting] permission was not given [to them]. Some villagers wanted to vote but their names were not on the voter list, thus they could not vote.
Regarding this issue we got the information from civilians. They said that the villagers that live outside [the Burma/Myanmar government controlled areas] were only allowed to conduct election campaigns for the NLD [National League for Democracy] and the KPP [Karen People’s Party]. The USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] said election campaigns should be allowed for all parties even if it is outside the [government] controlled [areas]. Not all parties were allowed to conduct election campaigns in the villages which are located outside the government controlled areas, therefore the Burma/Myanmar government did not permit them [the villagers outside government controlled areas] to vote. In this election the polling stations were set up in Ma Htaw, Win San, Tan Khun Taing, Me Tha Lut villages, section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4, and Naung Bet Ka in Hpapun town. They also set up polling stations for the military [Tatmadaw] in [the camps of] LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] #434, LIB #430, LIB #341, IB [Infantry Battalion] #19, and the Strategic Operations Command [SOC] base. Most of the people who were in charge of looking after the polling stations were Burma/Myanmar government school teachers. For the civilians they set up [polling stations] in clinics and schools.
Burma/Myanmar military activity
The Burma/Myanmar military which is the BGF [Tatmadaw Border Guard Force Battalion] #1014 was more active [during this reporting period] in Meh Pree village tract, Bu Tho Township. Even though the leaders [had] signed the [2012 preliminary] ceasefire they were still active and asked villagers to porter and work for them. They also did not respect the KNU [boundaries] because they always passed over KNU delimited territory and it caused clashes between the KNU [Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)] and BGF Battalion #1014.
The KNU’s activity
In Bu Tho Township the KNU [KNLA] follow their leaders’ orders [not to cross over delimited territory]. After the leaders signed the [2012 preliminary] ceasefire they ordered them to [only] be active in [the KNU controlled] territory and listen to each other [the Tatmadaw and the KNLA] thus, they were active as per the orders from their leaders. They were active in their own territory and took responsibility for providing security for the villagers in the area.
In Bu Tho Township the civilians are very glad after hearing that the [KNU] leaders signed the ceasefire. But, the civilians said that they did not know what was going to happen after signing the ceasefire, therefore they could not entirely build trust [in the peace process].
In Bu Tho Township the [students who study] one to four Standards in government schools do not have to pay anything [to the schools]. One school uniform was also provided to each student. On October 22nd 2015, Hpapun High School Education Administrator U Pa Thaw Khel’s son Saw Tha Hay Bluh, who is teaching in Baw Hta Primary School, beat the students who did not pass their monthly exams. He beat them on their heads, thighs and calves. We saw that the calves and thighs of the students were bruised and some students were not able to go to school [after having been beaten by the teacher].
In Bu Tho Township if we look at healthcare, the people who go to [get] treatment in government hospitals have to pay less for medicine. The number of health workers is increasing and [the treatments available are] improving a bit. They [Burma/Myanmar government health workers] provided immunisations to the children on time. The Golden Plain Project started in 2014 [and runs] to 2016. The non-governmental organization HelpAge International provided support to Baw Hta village, Meh Klaw village tract, Bu Tho Township. They provided corn, pesticides for paddies, and backpack insecticide sprayers. For the villagers who are very poor they even provided pigs and goats to raise. They also provided materials for the school, toilets, and tools for fixing pipes.
The villagers who live in Bu Tho Township area are working in cultivation farming. After they planted the paddy seeds, rats removed and ate them. Thus, some paddy seeds did not turn into plants. Some paddy plants were attacked by rats after they had grown. Some villagers were unable to [continue] working on their cultivation [because the seeds did not turn into plants] and some of them [had to] work as day labourers. Some villagers said that after the leaders signed the [2012 preliminary] ceasefire they can travel freely to buy rice and carry food, therefore they are very happy. Some villagers said that before the leaders signed the ceasefire if they went to buy rice and fish paste they had to travel secretly and hide the food. If the Tatmadaw caught them they misunderstood them [and thought] that they carried it for the KNU. Some villagers do not get enough food [from their cultivations] so they have to buy food and carry the food.
The activities in Bu Tho Township that started from June to October are revealed in the text above.