Thaton Situation Update: Thaton Township, July to October 2015


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Thaton Situation Update: Thaton Township, July to October 2015

Published date:
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Thaton Township, Thaton District between July and October 2015. It also includes updates on land confiscation, education, healthcare, military activities, and development projects.

  • On November 15th 2014, a Thaw Maw villager in Noh Ta Hsguh village tract reported that Tyre Factory #2 had confiscated 250 acres of land, belonging to Thaw Maw villagers. They had also planted rubber trees on the confiscated land. Due to decreasing rubber prices, the factory owners are now selling the land back to the villagers, at a price of 60,000 kyat (US $46.20) per acre.
  • Following the signing of the 2012 preliminary ceasefire, the Burma/Myanmar government, the Karen National Union (KNU), and other organisations have increased their education activities and support in Thaton Township. However, despite a growing number of schools and more external support, some parents are still facing financial difficulties sending their children to school.
  • The Burma/Myanmar government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have built new clinics in Thaton Township. Nonetheless, villagers are still facing difficulties accessing healthcare and adequate medicine. As healthcare in the towns continues to be an option mainly for the more affluent, some villagers continue to seek treatment in their villages or in KNU-controlled areas.


[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] Back Pack refers to the Back Pack Health Workers’ Team (BPHWT), an organisation that provides medical treatment for villagers in remote areas.

[4] 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.

[5] 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.

[6] All conversion estimates for the baht in this report are based on the 28th of January 2016 official market rate of 35.86 baht to the US $1.

[7] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 28th of January 2016 official market rate of 1,292.47 kyat to the US $1.

[8] 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.

[9] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 28th of January 2016 official market rate of 1,292.47 kyat to the US $1.

[10] Further information and photographs can be found in “Thaton Photo Set: Land Confiscation in Thaton Township, January – October 2015,” KHRG, February 2016; and “Thaton Situation Update: Thaton Township, January to February 2015,” KHRG, October 2015.

[11] Light Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprises 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.

[12] Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprises 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] 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.

[14] It is not entirely clear what organisation the community member is referring to here; KHRG received the report with only the acronym written down. MRCS might refer to the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

[15] 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’ reactions in Hpapun District can be found in the KHRG report: “Hpapun situation update: Bu Tho Township, February to June 2014,” KHRG, December 2014.

[16] Since 2010, KHRG has received an increasing number of reports referencing unstable or inconsistent weather conditions, and the resulting impact on agriculture in rural areas of Karen State. For more information, see: “Nyaunglebin Interview: Daw U---, December 2012,” KHRG, July 2014; “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyonedoe Township, January to June 2014,” KHRG, September 2014; Hpapun Situation Update: Dwe Lo Township, August to October 2013,” KHRG, August 2014