Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, October 2016

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Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, October 2016

Published date:
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

This Interview with Saw A--- describes events occurring in Win Yay Township, Dooplaya District, and includes armed groups’ activities, perspectives on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, villagers’ livelihoods, education, healthcare and development projects.

  • Saw A--- stated that the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) has tried to build a good relationship with the Burma/Myanmar government since 2012, in order to improve the local situation. However, the KNLA and Burma/Myanmar government still do not trust each other fully.
  • Saw A--- said that it will be better if Tatmadaw remove their army camps that are nearby villages in Win Yay Township, Dooplaya District, and abide by the rules of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
  • Saw A--- also reported that local villagers do not fully trust the NCA because Tatmadaw broke one of their stipulations by not informing the KNLA when they make trips or conduct military activities in the KNLA controlled areas. Therefore villagers worry that the Tatmadaw is using the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement to trick villagers into thinking there is peace.

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in southeastern 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 conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[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] Saw is a S’gaw Karen male honorific title used before a person’s name.

[4] During this interview both interviewee and researcher use Waw Raw and Win Yay interchangeably to refer to the same township.

[5] Border Guard Force (BGF) battalions of the Tatmadaw were established in 2010, and they are composed mostly of soldiers from former non-state armed groups, such as older constellations of the DKBA, which have formalised ceasefire agreements with the Burma/Myanmar government and agreed to transform into battalions within the Tatmadaw. BGF battalions are assigned four digit battalion numbers, whereas regular Tatmadaw infantry battalions are assigned two digit battalion numbers and light infantry battalions are identified by two or three-digit battalion numbers. For more information, see “DKBA officially becomes Border Guard Force” Democratic Voice of Burma, August 2010, and “Exploitation and recruitment under the DKBA in Pa’an District,”KHRG, June 2009.

[6] On January 12th 2012, a preliminary ceasefire agreement was signed between the KNU and Burma/Myanmar government in Hpa-an. Negotiations for a longer-term peace plan are still under way. For updates on the peace process, see the KNU Stakeholder webpage on the Myanmar Peace Monitor website. For KHRG's analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the ceasefire, see Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response since the 2012 ceasefire, KHRG, May 2014. In March 2015, the seventh round of the negotiations for a national ceasefire between the Burma/Myanmar government and various ethnic armed actors began in Yangon, see “Seventh Round of Nationwide Ceasefire Negotiations,” Karen National Union Headquarters, March 18th 2015. Following the negotiations, the KNU held a central standing committee emergency, see “KNU: Emergency Meeting Called To Discuss Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement And Ethnic Leaders’ Summit,” Karen News, April 22nd 2015.

[7] 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. Despite the signing of the NCA prompting a positive response from the international community, see “Myanmar: UN chief welcomes ‘milestone’ signing of ceasefire agreement,” UN News Centre, October 15th 2015, KNU Chairman General Saw Mutu Say Poe’s decision to sign has been met with strong opposition from other members of the Karen armed resistance and civil society groups alike, who believe the decision to be undemocratic and the NCA itself to be a superficial agreement that risks undermining a genuine peace process, see “Without Real Political Roadmap, Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement Leads Nowhere...,” Karen News, September 1st 2015. The signing of the NCA followed the January 12th 2012 preliminary ceasefire agreement 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.

[8] 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 KEDbecame 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.

[9] 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.

[10] Naypyidaw (also spelled Nay Pyi Taw) is the capital city of Burma/Myanmar. In 2005 the military regime moved the capital from Rangoon to a greenfield at its present location, 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of the city. In this interview, the interviewee is referring to the Burma/Myanmar government, who are based in Naypyidaw.

[11] This rule, locally known as ‘230’, is said to come from Ministry of Construction information that for road construction in this area, land will be built on up to the width of 230 feet along the length of the road. This width of land taken would cause significant disruption, damage and loss to villagers’ lands. However, the details of such road construction and whether this rule is indeed accurate remain unconfirmed.