Situation Update | Kyonedoe Township, Dooplaya District (April to July 2016)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in July 2016. It was written by a community member in Dooplaya 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.
During the period of April 2016 to July 2016, I [KHRG researcher] went to collect the information from some villages in Kyonedoe Township, Dooplaya District. It includes [updates on] the situation for the civilians, [Burma/Myanmar] government, BGF [Border Guard Force], DKBA [Democratic Karen Benevolent Army], KPC [Karen Peace Council] and KNU [Karen National Union], as mentioned below.
Civilian Situation (Livelihood)
The majority of civilians earn their living from gardens, farms and agriculture. Mostly, they grow different kinds of paddy rice in their area.
In 2015 the price of rubber decreased; one pound of rubber was priced at only 400 kyats [US $0.30]. Therefore, the rubber plantation owners and rubber tappers became unwilling to continue in the rubber business because they were not satisfied with their income [which also decreased when the price of rubber decreased]. Besides, some of the rubber plantations were destroyed by fire.
In that year, some of the durian plantations and betel nut plantations died because of hot weather; some of them [durian and betel nut] were not able to grow properly.
Forced labour, portering and Loh ah pay have reduced since the NCA was signed in 2015. However, the villagers had to pay farming tax to the DKBA and the KNU, and also other taxes. (According to the local KNU authorities they [KNU] have to collect taxes from the people because they do not get any salary).
This year  many organisations arrived in the local area and they tried to help the local villagers to reduce the problems affecting their livelihoods, such as access to electricity, water, education, agriculture and livestock.
2016 - Organisations who have come to the villages:
(1) Community Development Group, activities:
(a) Dig a deep well and build a water pipe
(b) Rebuild a broken school
(c) Rebuild a small bridge in a village
(2) Mya Sein Yaung Project, activity:
(a) Implement agriculture and livestock projects
It was reported that the Asian Highway road would be constructed in 2015.
(1) The road from Taung Kya Inn village to Aung Chang Thar village (dirt road) [approximately 12 miles]
(2) The road from Chaung Nit Khwat village to Aung Chang Thar village (paved road) [approximately 23 miles]
(3) The road from Ka Nyin K’Taik village to Tha Main Dut village (dirt road) [approximately ten miles]
Two of the roads have been constructed in dirt but they have not been paved yet. One road has been paved but it has not been finished yet. The local residents’ lands, gardens, farms and plantations were destroyed because of the road construction. However, the local people did not get any compensation for their lost properties. In addition, they do not dare to talk about what they have suffered. Some villagers said that it is easy to transport drugs because of the better road. That is why more and more people are addicted to drugs. As a result, many people become bad people.
Every parent wants to send their children to school, in order for their children to become literate. Some parents can afford to send their children to school but some parents cannot. Children [often] attend a self-funded primary school in their village. After the students finish primary school they have to continue studying at a middle school that the Burma/Myanmar government recognises, but some parents cannot support [afford] their children if their children go to the Burma/Myanmar government’s middle school. Therefore, many children in villages drop out of school. They just go back [home] and help their parents.
Because of these cases [of children not attending middle school], village authorities submit cases to the [Burma/Myanmar] government education department at the township level, in order to request post-primary school teachers in their villages. Thus, the local Burma/Myanmar government have sent some post-primary school level teachers to villages. Also, they [Burma/Myanmar government] have sent primary school teachers to the other villages. However, villagers [often] have to give support to the school teachers in the form of food and materials, such as oil and charcoal. In some villages, people cannot build a school, so they request that the local Government Education Officer builds a school in their village. Then the Burma/Myanmar government comes and helps them [villagers] to build a school. The Burma/Myanmar government contributes some school materials, such as books and pencils, to the primary schools in the villages, but there is not enough. Therefore, some villagers say that the students have to buy these school materials from outside.
For some villages, the Burma/Myanmar government has built clinics for when the villagers are sick, but there are not enough female/male medics or sufficient medicine in the clinics. There is [often] only one clinic for villagers [that is close by]. The villagers go to the clinic when the doctor stays at the clinic. Sometimes many medical groups, such as the Mother and Childcare Association and a midwife, came to the clinics; then the villagers gather together at these clinics because they [medical groups] want to raise the health awareness of the villagers. After they [medical groups] leave the clinics are locked [closed].
Healthcare groups from the Karen National Union [KNU] give public lectures to the villagers regarding malaria protection, when needed. They [KNU] also donate mosquito nets to the villagers for free. The common diseases in the rural areas are malaria, colic, flatulence, headache, skin disease, eczema and ring-worm. However, the villagers have to cure all of these diseases with traditional medicine.
Burma/Myanmar Government Military [Tatmadaw]
We can say that the activities of the Burma/Myanmar government military have reduced in our area. If necessary, they [military troops] travel from Taung Kya Inn village to Kyainseikgyi Town. Their [army] camp, Infantry Battalion [IB] #231, is very near to Taung Kya Inn village. Sometimes they just wear ordinary clothes [not army uniforms] and they go to buy durians from Win Ka village.
In the village, there is one village head and one clerk, who are appointed [chosen] by the Burma/Myanmar government. They regularly go to the Township administration office, once a month [to report on the village situation]. If something needs to be done with management in the village the Township administrator gets the village head to manage it.
Border Guard Force [BGF]
Battalion Commander, Saw Pa Lu [from the BGF Battalion #1021], is based at the BGF headquarters in Noh Loe village. Company Commander, Bo Kyaw Aye [from Company #1], is active in Htee Hu Thi village. However, I did not see that they [BGF] have done anything beneficial for the civilians.
Democratic Karen Benevolent Army [DKBA]
Battalion Commander, Bo Aung Yin [from the DKBA Battalion #901], is active in Kyonedoe Township, but they do not have their army camp based there. They just stay at their [own] houses. Some responsible villagers said that some soldiers [under the DKBA battalion #901] asked for taxes from the people. The villagers had to pay 1,000 kyats [US $0.74] for one acre of rubber plantation. DKBA soldiers also demanded one big tin of rice from each house in the village as an annual ration, but some villagers could only give them four bowls of rice. They [DKBA] do not benefit [help] the villagers.
Karen Peace Council [KPC]
Battalion Commander, Mein Khin Lin [KPC battalion #776], is active in Kyonedoe Township, but they do not have a permanent office. When necessary, they just go to KPC headquarters in Tokawko village, Kawkareik Township. They do not have any activity regarding militarisation. They just do their work at home. They also do not demand taxes from any person.
Karen National Union [KNU]
In order to understand the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement [NCA] completely, KNU authorities and Karen National Defence Organisation [KNDO] Battalion #6 worked together and held a public meeting in Kyonedoe Township. Regarding drugs, more and more people are addicted to them. They [KNU] try to take action to tackle drugs issues. They also raise awareness of drugs amongst the people. They carry out the law as it was made by the District leaders.
I [KHRG researcher] went to different villages in Kyonedoe Township and saw many problems and issues regarding livelihood, education, healthcare, armed groups, road construction, destroyed lands and plantations, and drug users and drug dealers. Therefore, I [KHRG researcher] would like to conclude in the Situation Update that it is difficult for local authorities to solve all of these problems because there are many ethnic armed groups in the area.