Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, November 2016 to January, 2017


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Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, November 2016 to January, 2017

Published date:
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District between November 2016 and January 12th, 2017, including military activity, education, business development, livelihoods, healthcare, natural conservation, drug use and the return to Myanmar of refugees from Nu Poe refugee camp on the Thailand border.

  • On January 8th and 9th 2017, Tatmadaw sent more troops to the area between Kyeikdon Town and Per Kler village after on-going clashes with DKBA (Democratic Karen Buddhist Army) Bo San Aung’s splinter group. They also made local people porter to carry food for them.
  • On November 16th 2016, local villager Saw Hpa Bee disappeared after a landmine exploded. He was on his way to farmland and has been presumed dead. Following the explosion, more landmines were found around that area, and it was believed that they were planted by the DKBA Bo San Aung’s splinter group which has been active in the region.
  • Six drug-dealers were arrested by local authorities in Kyaikdon Town, Kyainseikgyi Township, Dooplaya District and the effort of fighting against drugs was said to be scaled up by local armed actors. 


[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] Bo is a Burmese title meaning ‘officer.’

[4] Tactical Commander General Saw San Aung, commonly known as Bo San Aung, from DKBA Battalion #907, was relieved of his position in the beginning of 2015 after fighting broke out between his battalion and Tatmadaw troops. Acting independently, he formed his own armed group with approximately 70-80 soldiers. In April 2015, Bo San Aung was accepted back into the DKBA after discussions with the DKBA’s top leaders. Following the most recent bout of fighting between the Tatmadaw and DKBA along the Asian Highway, in which Bo San Aung and his company “deaf ear” (Na Ma Kya) were involved, Bo San Aung was again dismissed from the DKBA as a result of his conduct. For recent information on Bo San Aung, see “Two separate clashes between armed actors in Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District, February 2015,”KHRG, May 2015 and “DKBA sacks Brigadier General Saw Kyaw Thet and Colonel Saw San Aung,” Mizzima, July 2015.

[5] 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.

[6] Loh ah pay is a Burmese term now commonly used in reference to forced labour, although traditionally referring to voluntary service for temples or the local community, not military or state projects.

[7] All conversion estimates for the baht in this report are based on the July 21st 2017 official market rate of 33 baht to US $1.

[8] 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.

[9] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 16 August 2017 official market rate of 1364 kyat to US $1.