Dooplaya Interview: Naw A---, May 2017

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Dooplaya Interview: Naw A---, May 2017

Published date:
Friday, November 17, 2017

This interview with Naw A--- describes events that occurred in Kyainseikgyi Township, Dooplaya District, between 2016 and 2017, including development projects, health, education, taxation and military activities.

    • After the 2012 Preliminary Ceasefire was signed between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burma/Myanmar government, the ownership of a Tatmadaw camp in a reserved forest area near B--- village, Kyainseikgyi Township, Dooplaya District, was transferred to the Border Guard Force (BGF), led by Bo T’Kee. The BGF soldiers have taxed villagers who carry logs on trucks meant for the construction of their houses at 5,000 kyat (US $3.68) per truck.  
    • The BGF soldiers logged trees and bamboo and cleared vegetation for their plantations inside the villagers reserved forest. They also fished in the river in which villagers had forbidden fishing. The soldiers damaged the forest; therefore villagers are concerned that this will cause water shortages in future. Villagers would like the forestry administration staff to replant trees for environmental protection.  
    • The Burma/Myanmar government do not recognise the KNU education curriculum so students who finished standard eight from KNU schools in T’Ku Khee area, Kyainseikgyi Township in 2016 do not have access to equal job opportunities because their school certificates are not formally recognised. 
    • An unknown Community Based Organisation (CBO) provided some finances for the villagers to work on a water supply project and construct one village hall building. Villagers had to contribute 1/3 of the required budget for the project. 

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] 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] 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.

[5] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the __(date)___official market rate of ___ kyat to US $1.

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

[7] Yaba, which means ‘crazy medicine’ in Thai, is a tablet form of methamphetamine. First developed in East Asia during the Second World War to enhance soldiers' performance, methamphetamine has become increasingly popular in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Burma/Myanmar where it is typically manufactured. See, Yaba, the 'crazy medicine' of East Asia, UNODC, May 2008; “Woman raped and killed in Pa’an District, October 2012,” KHRG, December 2012; and Chapter IV in Truce or Transition? Trends in human rights abuse and local response in Southeast Myanmar since the 2012 ceasefireKHRG, June 2014.

[8] A standard refers to a school year in the education system of Burma/Myanmar. The basic education system has a 5-4-2 structure. Primary school runs from Standard 1 to Standard 5, lower secondary school is Standard 6 to Standard 9, and upper secondary school is Standard 10 to Standard 11.

[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] Since 1990, it is estimated that over 100,000 Karen have been resettled from refugee camps to third countries, especially USA, Canada and Australia

[11] 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.

[12] Ter Ler is a Karen phrase that refers to the Mon, a minority ethnic group in Myanmar

[13] The majority ethnic group in Myanmar, also known as ethnic Burmese or Burman.