Situation Update | Hlaingbwe Township, Paingkyon Township and Nabu Township, Hpa-an District (March to May 2017)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in June 2017. It was written by a community member in Hpa-an 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. This report was received along with 10 photographs from Hpa-an District.
This information was documented from March to May 19th in the entire Hpa-an District and covers fighting, villagers’ livelihoods, healthcare, education and the activities of armed groups.
Fighting broke out in February 2017 between the Border Guard Force (BGF), who was cooperating with the Tatmadaw, and the [re-formed] Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA splinter)  in Lu Pleh Township [Hpa-an District]. The fighting took place in Paw Taw Lay Khoh place, Ma Eh area, Htee La Neh village tract as well as in Meh Proo village and Meh Proo Hta area, Meh Proo village tract. Therefore, villagers from those areas fled to other places such as Kaw Taw Town [Myaing Gyi Ngu] area, Brigade #5 [Hpapun District], and Thailand. They do not feel safe enough toreturn to their villages yet.
It was summer in Hpa-an District during the period between March and May, 2017. During this time, some villagers were working as car and motorcycle taxi drivers and traders, buying and selling many types of materials and products [eg. foods/snacks, building materials]. Some villagers traded charcoal, planks, and wooden poles. Some planted peanuts, beans and paddy. Some people taught Lee Kweh Kwaw [Karen ancient language] to the children as part of a summer study [course]. Some people sold rice and curry [street food] beside the vehicle road which is close to the mountain [hill forest]. Some villagers fished and hunted wild animals.
Healthcare in Hpa-an District between March and May has been provided by both the Burma/Myanmar government and the Karen Nation Union (KNU) government. The Burma/Myanmar government has set up township level hospitals in every township in Hpa-an District and the KNU government has also set up clinics for civilians in Lu Pleh [Hlaingbwe] Township, Ta Kreh [Paingkyon] Township and T’Nay Hsah [Nabu] Township. Both governments provide as much healthcare [for civilians] in the community as they can. Villagers who live close to a Burma/Myanmar government hospital go to the [township level] hospitals whereas villagers who live close to a KNU clinic go to the KNU clinics.
In the period between March and May 2017, the armed groups who have been patrolling [in Hpa-an District] are the Tatmadaw, the BGF, [the KNU/KNLA-Peace Coucil] and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). The goal of both the Burma/Myanmar government and the KNU government is to secure their sovereign control over all the areas [in Hpa-an District]. Nevertheless, these governments are cooperating [in their administration needs] and not currently fighting.
The other armed groups [KNLA and Tatmadaw] did not conduct logging, but the [KNU/KNLA] Peace Council are still logging towards Pa Khee Mountain [which is very far from their area] in T’Nay Hsah [Nabu] Township. KNU and Burma/Myanmar government forbade logging, but [KNU/KNLA]-PC leaders are continuing to sell logs to companies.
The Burma/Myanmar police want to investigate all incidents, such as motorcycle and car accidents, that are happening in the [Hpa-an District] area. However, KNU [police officers] are also investigating [any accidents] for villagers in the areas they control and they have stopped the Burma/Myanmar police from pursuing their investigations. KNU [police officers] are also helping villagers [by patrolling and taking action on incidents] in the town.
Land confiscation is still being committed by the Tatmadaw in Hpa-an District. The Tatmadaw have set up their houses [army camps and homes for soldiers’ families] and are farming on the lands [that they confiscated from civilians] to get food and for the soldiers’ families to farm for their livelihoods. Sometimes, they give these lands to the BGF. The KNU/KNLA-PC leaders have also confiscated villagers’ land for their [soldiers’ families] to farm for their livelihoods. These [land confiscation cases] are still happening in Hpa-an District. The KNU does not confiscate villagers’ lands, but they have bought land from villagers for their battalion workers’ [soldiers’ families] to live on.