IDPs in Lu Thaw Township, Hpapun District urge Tatmadaw to withdraw army camps (May 2017)

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IDPs in Lu Thaw Township, Hpapun District urge Tatmadaw to withdraw army camps (May 2017)

Published date:
Thursday, September 21, 2017

This News Bulletin describes the details of a non-violent protest held by Internally Displaced People (IDPs) that urged the Tatmadaw to withdraw their army camps in Lu Thaw Township, Hpapun District in 2017 so that villagers and IDPs can work freely and peacefully for their livelihood without fear of landmines or Tatmadaw abuses. The protest was held on May 15th 2017 at A--- place, Pla Hkoh village tract. 615 IDPs participated in this protest. After the protest, the Tatmadaw reinforced their troops and increased their amount of military activity.[1]

Footnotes

[1] This News Bulletin was written by KHRG office staff and is based on information from a community member from Hpapun District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor local human rights conditions. It summarises information from two incident reports and one situation update received by KHRG in June 2017. In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in southeast 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.
[2] A village tract is an administrative unit of between five and 20 villages in a local area, often centred on a large village.
[3] For additional KHRG reporting on IDPs in Lu Thaw Township see, “Ongoing militarisation prevents Lu Thaw Township IDPs from returning home,” KHRG, February 2014 and, “IDPs, land confiscation and forced recruitment in Papun District,” KHRG, July, 2009. 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.[4] Saw is a S’gaw Karen male honorific title used before a person’s name.[5] 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.
[6] It is unclear whether the 82 plain farms mentioned by Saw G--- are only located in the village tract he is a leader of or if these plain farms are also in other areas in Lu Thaw Township.
[7] Ei Tu Hta IDP camp was set up in 2006 in Hpapun district, on the banks of the Salween River next to Thailand. As of early 2017, the camp housed 475 households, totaling 3352 people. The IDPs largely originally fled from Toungoo and Nyaunglebin districts due to the Myanmar government military (Tatmadaw) launching offensives in Karen National Union-controlled areas. The Border Consortium (TBC) is the main donor that provides rations to IDPs in Ei Tu Hta camp. TBC has announced it is only able to secure budget to provide basic supplies until September 2017. After this the camp will be closed. Since December 2015, discussion and surveys have been taking place by funders and Karen CBOs about the return and resettlement of the IDP community, and a focal preparatory committee on the return was formed with representatives from Karen CBOs and local KNU officials. Some IDPs have expressed great concern about the resettlement and return process as there are Tatmadaw and other armed actors present in the area where they were originally from. See, “End Of Funding Will Force Ei Tu Hta Karen Displaced Peoples’ Camp To Close,” Karen News, February 16th 2016.
[8] For more detailed information regarding Ei Tu Hta IDP protests see “Thousands of Displaced Karen Villagers Call for Burma Army to Get Off Their Land” Karen News, May 2017.
[9] 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. Yet up to date information regarding the size of battalions is hard to come by, particularly following the signing of the NCA.  LIBs are primarily used for offensive operations, but they are sometimes used for garrison duties.[10] An Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprises 500 soldiers. However, most Infantry Battalions in the Tatmadaw are under-strength with less than 200 soldiers. Yet up to date information regarding the size of battalions is hard to come by, particularly following the signing of the NCA.  They are primarily used for garrison duty but are sometimes used in offensive operations.