Toungoo Interview: Saw A---, November 2016


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Toungoo Interview: Saw A---, November 2016

Published date:
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

This Interview with Saw A--- describes events occurring in Htantabin (Htaw Ta Htoo) Township, Toungoo (Taw Oo) District, on November 15th 2016, including development, land seizures, healthcare, education, livelihood, past abuses and perspectives on youth empowerment, and the KNU and NLD governments.     

  • Wealthy individual and private landowner, U Than Htay, confiscated 200 acres of land from Htee Pa Loh villagers, starting in 2006-2007 in Htantabin Township, Toungoo District. Although their lands were confiscated, some were later returned. Villagers have also been continuing to work on the plantations which have yet to be returned, showing that they oppose the land confiscation.
  • Saw A--- stated that people in his village contract diseases, mostly malaria. There is no clinic in his village but government health workers come to give vaccinations once a month. When villagers are severely ill, they are sent to Toungoo Hospital but the medical fees are expensive and are difficult to afford for most villagers.
  • Saw A--- returned to his original village in 2004, after a long period of displacement which started around 1993 and 1994, when the Tatmadaw came to attack his village. The villagers were first displaced to Magyi Kone village. They later moved to Na Ga Mauk village after Magyi Kone village was burnt down by the Tatmadaw.


[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] Tatmadaw refers to the Myanmar military throughout KHRG's 25 year reporting period. The Myanmar military were commonly referred to by villagers in KHRG research areas as SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) from 1988 to 1997 and SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) from 1998 to 2011, which were the Tatmadaw-proclaimed names of the military government of Burma. Villagers also refer to Tatmadaw in some cases as simply "Burmese" or "Burmese soldiers".

[4] The exact date is unknown  by the interview.

[5] Kaung Myanmar Aung Company (KMAC) or Kaung Myanmar Aung Group of Companies is a Myanmar-owned business group with investments in teak plantations in Toungoo District, and mining, agriculture, shipping, construction and real estate development within Myanmar. Their chairman is Mr Khin Maung Aye. KMAC have been implicated in land confiscation cases in southeast Myanmar which have included threats to villagers who were customary owners of the lands, see “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi and Htantabin townships, November 2014 to February 2015,” July 2015. Affected villagers held protests against the company in 2015 and early 2016 in order to demand the return of their lands, see “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi and Htantabin townships, November 2015 to January 2016,” July 2016. For information on a similar case with KMAC in Pyin Oo Lwin Township, Mandalay Division, see “Presidential adviser sues 13 farmers for trespassing,” Myanmar Times, September 2nd, 2013.

[6] Information on whether the land was formally returned is currently unavailable.

[7] Thara Doh Htoo is a secretary of Land Restitution Committee, founded by the KNU. He is also involved in the Burma/Myanmar government but is inform about his exact role is currently unavailable..

[8] This is one of the many forms required by land owners to own and work on land.

[9] More detailed information as to when this was is currently unavailable.

[10] 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 are Standard 6 to Standard 9, and upper secondary school is Standard 10 to Standard 11.

[11] This is a direct translation of what that interviewee said about the school, it is unclear as to what he means by this.

[12] Mahout is a term for an elephant trainer or rider.

[13] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 13/11/17 official market rate of 3.66 kyat to US $1.

[14] The exact date is unknown.

[15] The exact date and location of this incident is unknown.

[16] The Myanmar Council of Churches was formerly named the Burma Christian Council.

[17] 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.

[18] 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.