Dooplaya Field Report: A quasi-ceasefire? Developments after the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, from January to December 2016

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Dooplaya Field Report: A quasi-ceasefire? Developments after the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, from January to December 2016

Published date:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dooplaya Field Report: January to December 2016

This field report provides the analysis of the regional situation in Dooplaya District, southeast Myanmar, between January and December 2016. It includes information submitted by KHRG community members on a range of human rights violations and other issues including the military situation and ceasefire concerns, violent abuse, drug usage, development projects, land issues, health and education, and refugee issues.

  • According to the information listed in a number of reports, during 2016 villagers in Dooplaya District are still concerned about the military situation due to the resurgence of military movement and on-going fighting between the Tatmadaw and Karen ethnic armed groups after the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement [NCA]. Villager’s trust in the Karen National Liberation Army [KNLA] has decreased since the signing of the NCA.
  • In terms of the human rights situation in Dooplaya District, villagers are still facing a lack of justice when they experience violent abuse such as torture, rape and killing. The information received highlighted that villagers need more knowledge and awareness on human rights issues given by organisations such as KHRG in order to protect themselves.
  • Regarding drugs, villagers reported in a number of situation updates that the illegal trade in yaba [methamphetamine] has rapidly increased in all townships of Dooplaya District; consequently there have been negative social impacts. Many young people, including children and married women became addicted to yaba and they are no longer interested in their education or working for their livelihood, which creates burdens for their family. Therefore, villagers are seriously concerned for their future generations.
  • Regarding health, education and development projects, key stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community based organisation (CBOs), including the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burma/Myanmar government, should ensure that the services that they have provided for the local villagers are both accessible and available. Villagers in Dooplaya District reported that although there have been many services which were provided by the relevant actors, some villagers could not access these services properly. Moreover, there have been ongoing issues which needed to need to be addressed after these services were provided. 

 

Footnotes

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) was re-formed on January 16th 2016 as a splinter group from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (2010 – present), and is also referred to as Na Ma Kya (‘Deaf Ear’). During fighting between the Tatmadaw and DKBA Benevolent throughout 2015, there was internal disagreement within the DKBA Benevolent which resulted in a number of commanders being dismissed in July 2015. These former commanders then issued a statement in January 2016 declaring the formation of a new splinter group. This organisation has phrased the formation of this group as the revival of the original Democratic Karen Buddhist Army which was formed in 1994 until it was broken up in 2010 into the BGF and the still-active DKBA Benevolent. The group is led by General Saw Kyaw Thet, Chief of Staff and General Saw Taing Shwe aka Bo Bi, Vice Chief of Staff. Other lower ranking commanders in the DKBA Buddhist splinter group are San Aung and late Kyaw Moh aka Na Ma Kya (reportedly killed on August 26th 2016). The group is currently based in Myaing Gyi Ngu area in Hlaing Bwe Township, Karen State. This DKBA Buddhist (2016 – present) should not be confused with the DKBA Benevolent (2010 – present) from which it broke away in January 2016, or with the original DKBA (1994 – 2010) which was broken up in 2010 into the BGF and the DKBA Benevolent. Importantly, the DKBA Buddhist has not signed the preliminary or nationwide ceasefire with the Myanmar government whereas the DKBA Benevolent has signed both agreements.

[4]Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yin Township, January 2016 to March 2016,” KHRG, December 2016.

[5] A Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) comprises 500 soldiers. However, most Light Infantry Battalions in the Tatmadaw are under-strength with less than 200 soldiers. LIBs are primarily used for offensive operations, but they are sometimes used for garrison duties.

[6] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Win Yay Township received in May 2016.

[7] As per the 2012 preliminary ceasefire agreement between the KNU and the Burma/Myanmar government, the Tatmadaw are only allowed to operate and travel up to 50 yards from either side of roads that connect their army camps through KNLA territory, and only within a 150 yard radius around their own army camp.

[8] Further information on the mental and physical impact of villagers being used as human shields is currently unavailable. “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township and Noh T’Kaw Township, April to May 2016,” KHRG, March 2017.

[9]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016,” KHRG, December 2016.

[10] 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.

[11] 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.

[12] The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) was re-formed on January 16th 2016 as a splinter group from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (2010 – present), and is also referred to as Na Ma Kya (‘Deaf Ear’). During fighting between the Tatmadaw and DKBA Benevolent throughout 2015, there was internal disagreement within the DKBA Benevolent which resulted in a number of commanders being dismissed in July 2015. These former commanders then issued a statement in January 2016 declaring the formation of a new splinter group. This organisation has phrased the formation of this group as the revival of the original Democratic Karen Buddhist Army which was formed in 1994 until it was broken up in 2010 into the BGF and the still-active DKBA Benevolent. The group is led by General Saw Kyaw Thet, Chief of Staff and General Saw Taing Shwe aka Bo Bi, Vice Chief of Staff. Other lower ranking commanders in the DKBA Buddhist splinter group are San Aung and late Kyaw Moh aka Na Ma Kya (reportedly killed on August 26th 2016). The group is currently based in Myaing Gyi Ngu area in Hlaing Bwe Township, Karen State. This DKBA Buddhist (2016 – present) should not be confused with the DKBA Benevolent (2010 – present) from which it broke away in January 2016, or with the original DKBA (1994 – 2010) which was broken up in 2010 into the BGF and the DKBA Benevolent. Importantly, the DKBA Buddhist has not signed the preliminary or nationwide ceasefire with the Myanmar government whereas the DKBA Benevolent has signed both agreements.

[13]Dooplaya Interview: Naw A--- February 2016,” KHRG, August 2016. See also “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016,” KHRG, December 2016.

[14] Na Ma Kya is a Burmese phrase which directly translates as Deaf Ear‟. Na Ma Kya in this context refers to the name of a Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) unit based in Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District. According to local villagers, this group often acts with impunity, ignoring both the local people’s input as well as the higher DKBA authorities‟ orders.  

[15] Military title meaning ‘officer.’

[16] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kyonedoe Township received in November 2016.

[17] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the July 1, 2017 official market rate of 1355 kyat to US $1.

[18]Dooplaya Interview: Naw G---, September 2016,” KHRG, December 2016.

[19]Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, February 2016,” KHRG, November 2016.

[20]We do not want to support any armed groups, we just want to live simply as villagers”. “Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, February 2016,” KHRG, November 2016.

[21]Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yin Township, January 2016 to March 2016,” KHRG, December 2016.

[22]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township and Noh T’Kaw Township, April to May 2016,” KHRG, March 2017. In this case, villagers who were used as human shields were released unharmed.

[23] Yaba, which means “crazy medicine” in Thai, is a tablet form of methamphetamine. First developed in East Asia during World War II to enhance soldiers' performance, methamphetamine has become increasingly popular in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Vietnam, and in Burma/Myanmar where it is typically manufactured. See, "Yaba, the 'crazy medicine of East Asia," UNODC, May 2008 and “Woman raped and killed in Pa’an District, October 2012,” KHRG, December 2012, and “Chapter: Drug production, use and the social impacts in Southeast Myanmar since the January 2012 ceasefire,” KHRG, June 2014.

[24] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kawkareik Township Dooplaya District received in November 2016.

[25] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kyainseikgyi Township and Waw Raw Township, Dooplaya District received in January 2017.

[26]Growing drug use and its consequences in Dooplaya and Hpa-an districts, between February and December 2015” KHRG, May 2016.

[27]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, January to October 2016” KHRG, July 2017. Also see “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016” KHRG, December 2016 and “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyonedoe Township, April 2016 to July 2016” KHRG, February 2017.

[28] This information is taken from unpublished report from Kyonedoe Township received in November 2016.

[29]Growing drug use and its consequences in Dooplaya and Hpa-an districts, between February and December 2015” KHRG, May 2016.

[30]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016”, KHRG, December 2016.

[31]Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yin Township, January 2016 to March 2016”, KHRG, December 2016.

[32]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyonedoe Township, April 2016 to July 2016”, KHRG, February 2017.

[33] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kawkareik and Kyainseikgyi township received in March 2016.

[34]Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, September 2016,” KHRG, June 2017.

[35]Dooplaya Field Report: Military conflict, violent abuse, and destruction caused by development projects, January to December 2015,” KHRG, October 2016.

[36] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Win Yay Township received in November 2016.

[37]Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yin Township, January 2016 to March 2016”, KHRG, December 2016.

[38]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016”, KHRG, December 2016.

[39] The problems of newly built Burma/Myanmar government clinics with limited medics, limited medicine and locked doors have been reported several times to KHRG across Dooplaya District. See, “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016,” KHRG, December 2016, and, “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyonedoe and Kawkareik townships, July to November 2014,” KHRG, January 2016.

[40]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyonedoe Township, April 2016 to July 2016”, KHRG, February 2017.

[41] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kyonedoe Township received in November 2016.

[42] The Nippon Foundation is a Japanese NGO currently implementing social innovation and development projects in Burma/Myanmar. KHRG has received several reports from community members on The Nippon Foundation’s recent activities in  Thaton and Hpa-an Districts, see more at “Hpa-an Situation Update: Hlaingbwe and Nabu townships, December 2014 to January 2015,” KHRG, July 2015; and “Thaton Situation Update Bilin and Hpa-an townships, June to November 2014,” KHRG, February 2015.

[43] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kawkareik Township and Win Yay Township received in May 2016.

[44]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016”, KHRG, December 2016.

[45]Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yin Township, January 2016 to March 2016”, KHRG, December 2016.

[46]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyonedoe Township, April 2016 to July 2016”, KHRG, February 2017.

[47]Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016”, KHRG, December 2016.

[48]Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yin Township, January 2016 to March 2016,” KHRG, December 2016.

[49]Refugees Could Go Back Within One Year: Thailand,” The Irrawaddy, September 2012.

[50]Karen community groups critical to refugee repatriation,” Karen News, September 14, 2012.

[51]Burma_Thailand:KWO and Karen Community Based Organizations(KCBO) Position Paper on Refugees’ Return,” Democracy for Burma, September 14, 2012.

[52] See the documentary at: “Nothing About Us Without Us,” Burma Partnership/Progressive Voice, December 10, 2012.

[53] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kyainseikgyi Township and Win Yin Township received in November 2016.

[54] This information is taken from an unpublished report from Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District, received in November 2016.