Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, March to July 2015

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Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, March to July 2015

Published date:
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, during the period between March and July 2015, including healthcare and education challenges, ethnic discrimination, livelihood issues, military activity, and development projects.

  • The healthcare sector in Thandaunggyi Township is underdeveloped since the Burma/Myanmar government healthcare department does not come to provide vaccines, especially in rural areas. The health workers also do not provide regular service to the villages to which they are assigned.
  • Muslims who live in Thandaung Myo Thit Town, Thandaunggyi Township, are treated discriminately by the head of Thandaunggyi Township immigration department, U Myo Tint. Beginning in 2015 and as of July 2015, U Myo Tint has refused to grant Muslim resident Maung A--- the guest permission letter which is required for Maung A--- to be able to legally stay in the town overnight.  The immigration officer U Myo Tint and the town administrator, also named U Myo Tint, continue to request that Maung A--- resubmit his household documents. Town administrator U Myo Tint also regularly comes to monitor Maung A---’s shop, and arbitrarily accuses him of breaking the law.
  • Following the signing of the 2012 preliminary ceasefire, some internally displaced persons (IDPs) went back and rebuilt their villages: Hpah Weh Doh Kah, Hpah Weh Doh Koh, and Thay Hpah Yoo villages, in Thandaunggyi Township. With the help of the Karen Education Department (KED), these IDPs built primary schools in their new villages. However, they have to hire the teachers with their own money, and due to having insufficient funds, they are only able to hire underqualified teachers.
  • Mya Sein Yaung Company and their partner company lent 100,000 kyat (US $77.64) to poor households in Thandaunggyi Township. However, only those who could use their property as collateral to the company were able to take that loan.
  • In 2015, U Man Day, the village head of Ywa Gyi village in Thandaunggyi Township, collected 2,000 kyats (US $1.54) per house for the cost of an electric generator which was given for free by Burma/Myanmar Ministry of Electric Power. When the villagers found out that they have been cheated, they complained to different levels of government, including the township, district, and national levels, in order to sue the village head U Man Day; however, no action has been taken against him.

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 southeastern 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] KHRG has previously received reports of religious discrimination against Muslims in Thandaung Myo Thit town by immigration officer U Myo Tint. See, “Toungoo Interview: Maung A---, April 2015,” KHRG, January 2016 and “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, January to February 2015,” KHRG, October 2015.

[4] Form No. 10 or “Household document” refers to a Burma/Myanmar government administrative form which all households must submit to their village heads or local authorities. This document includes the name, age, religion, and other demographic information of all the members of the household.

[5] According to the KHRG community member who submitted this report, although Maung A--- has still not been given permission to stay overnight in the town at the time of publication, U Saw Htoo, who is a member of a local group named Hsa Mu Htaw group, and USDP Chairman Saw Hay Tha Gyi told him he should continue staying in the town overnight and not worry. The two assured Maung A--- that they will handle any trouble he may be given by town administrator U Myo Tint or immigration officer U Myo Tint, since their charges against him are unfounded.

[6] 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.

[7] In Burma/Myanmar, “tuition” usually refers to the fee students have to pay for after-school classes. Although these classes are not mandatory, students find that without them they are unable to pass their exams, as the quality of teaching in the free school lessons is poor. According to the KHRG researcher who submitted this Situation Update, this “tuition” has now been renamed and is referred to as an “extra class” fee.

[8] The KHRG community member is referring to the preliminary ceasefire agreement that was signed on January 12th 2012 between the KNU and Burma/Myanmar government in Hpa-an. For KHRG's analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the preliminary ceasefire, see Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response since the 2012 ceasefire, KHRG, May 2014. On October 15th 2015, after a negotiation process marred with controversy over the notable non-inclusion of several ethnic armed groups and on-going conflicts in ethnic regions, a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between the Burma/Myanmar government and eight of the fifteen ethnic armed groups originally invited to the negotiation table, including the KNU, see “Myanmar signs ceasefire with eight armed groups,” Reuters, October 15th 2015.

[9] 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 21st 2015.

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

[11]All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the January 29th 2016 official market rate of 1,296.58 kyat to the US $1.

[12] KHRG has previously published detailed information regarding the Mya Sein Yaung money lending project in Thandaunggyi Township. See, “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, April to June 2014,” KHRG, December 2014 and “Toungoo Field Report: December 2013 to December 2014,” KHRG, February 2016.

[13] 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.

[14] 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.

[15] Form No. 10 or “Household document” refers to a Burma/Myanmar government administrative form which all households must submit to their village heads or local authorities. This document includes the name, age, religion, and other demographic information of all the members of the household.

[16] The Special Police Force were formed in order to assist with security at polling stations during the 2015 Burma/Myanmar general elections. According to a KHRG community member, following the election these Special Police were asked to report any new information that could be of interest to the police on an ongoing basis. If they fail to report on news from their area, they are subject to punishment by the police.

[17] The KHRG community member is referring to the preliminary ceasefire agreement that was signed on January 12th 2012 between the KNU and the Burma/Myanmar government in Hpa-an. For KHRG's analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the preliminary ceasefire, see Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response since the 2012 ceasefire, KHRG, May 2014. On October 15th 2015, after a negotiation process marred with controversy over the notable non-inclusion of several ethnic armed groups and on-going conflicts in ethnic regions, a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed between the Burma/Myanmar government and eight of the fifteen ethnic armed groups originally invited to the negotiation table, including the KNU, see “Myanmar signs ceasefire with eight armed groups,” Reuters, October 15th 2015.

[18] 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.

[19] On February 9th 2015 fighting resumed between Burma/Myanmar government troops and ethnic Kokang soldiers belonging to the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) in northeast Shan state. During the month of February 2015 alone, these clashes had left more than 100 people dead and caused around 100,000 refugees to flee across the border into China. For further information on the history of hostilities between the MNDAA and the Tatmadaw see, “Who Are Myanmar’s Kokang Rebels And What Are They Fighting For?” Radio Free Asia, February 23rd 2015.

[20] According to the KHRG community member who submitted this report, the motorcycle was being driven by a Tatmadaw soldier from Bu Yint Naung army camp. The soldier was severely injured during the collision and died later that day at Toungoo Hospital.