Hpapun Situation Update: Lu Thaw Township, December 2016 to January 2017

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Hpapun Situation Update: Lu Thaw Township, December 2016 to January 2017

Published date:
Monday, September 18, 2017

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Lu Thaw Township, Hpapun District during the period between December 2016 and January 2017, including Tatmadaw camp information and activities, the situation for Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs), villagers’ livelihoods, land confiscation, education and health.

  • There are nine Tatmadaw camps – under the control of Strategic Operations Command (SOC) #3 and Military Operations Command (MOC) #20 – in four of the five village tracts in Lu Thaw Township. Villagers from those four village tracts have been displaced to other areas since before 2000.
  • Civilians report restricted freedom of movement and increased security and livelihood concerns due to Tatmadaw activities such as increasing patrols along civilian areas as well as attempts by the Tatmadaw to induce civilian cooperation by keeping food, money and medicine beside the ‘Tatmadaw road’ that the civilians have to cross. The food, money and medicine are free for civilians to take if they want.
  • Civilians feel uncertain about the current peace process due to recent Tatmadaw activity and request that the Tatmadaw withdraw their camps.
  • Civilians do not want the Burma/Myanmar Education Department government workers to interfere with their current educational system because they prefer to remain under the Karen National Union (KNU) education system.

Footnotes

[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 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] Military Operations Command (MOC) is comprised of ten battalions for offensive operations. Most MOCs have three Tactical Operations Commands (TOCs) made up of three battalions each.

[4] 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.

[5] An Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprises 500 soldiers. However, most Infantry Battalions in the Tatmadaw are under-strength with less than 200 soldiers. They are primarily used for garrison duty but are sometimes used in offensive operations.

[6] Strategic Operations Command; under regional command and comprises three to four battalions and a headquarters. It mostly covers an area for defensive purposes.

[7] 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

[8] 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.

[9] For instances of BGF killing civilians in Hpapun Township since the 2012 Preliminary Ceasefire, see “Hpapun Field Report: Killing, violent abuse, landmine incident, military activity, forced labour, displacement, and poor health and education make villagers feel insecure, January to December 2015,” KHRG, December 2016.

[10]The main goals of the Karen National Union's Education Department (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.

[11] All conversion estimates for the baht in this report are based on the 22nd of August 2017 official market rate of 33.21 baht to US $1.

[12] Founded in 1997 in response to Tatmadaw offenses, Free Burma Ranger (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian relief organization that specializes in providing emergency health care, shelter, food and clothing to civilians in war zones and prioritizes assisting IDPs. In addition to their relief activities the FBR also conducts capacity building trainings, documents human rights violations and advocates regularly on the situation in Burma/Myanmar. There are currently 71 active FBR teams that go on 2-4 missions a year. Additional  KHRG reports that cite FBR include “Situation Update | Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District (March to May 2016)” KHRG, September 2016.

[13] 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.