Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, March to May 2017

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Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, March to May 2017

Published date:
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District during the period between March and May 2017, including education, healthcare, livelihoods, development projects, military activity and researcher’s opinion.

  • From March to May 2017, regarding the educational situation in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, in local areas there were not enough teachers, school materials or supplies to allow everyone access to educational opportunities. Students also have to deal with the absence of teachers and a poorly planned school system.
  • Patients were treated with expired medication at the hospital in Thandaunggyi Town, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District after Burma/Myanmar government health workers distributed expired medication to the medical staff.
  • Chang Mya Way Si Company’s road construction in 2016 damaged multiple villagers’ plantations in Leik Pyar Gyi village, Leik Pyar Gyi village tract, Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District. A year later the company has yet to compensate for the damage to villagers’ possessions. They also underpaid a local villager who worked for the company and plotted the route of the road.
  • In March 2017 the Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalion #599 Commander, under command of MOC #13, went to a young woman’s house and drank beer without paying for it. No one dared to tell him to go back to the camp even though the young woman felt at risk. 

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] Thandaung Special Region Peace Group’ is also known as Htanay Phyithu Sitt A’pweh, or ‘Thandaung Peace Group’, is a local militia located in Toungoo District. The group split from the Karen National Union in 1997 and was initially led by Khe R’Mun. Reports from the field claim that they are currently led by General Bo Than Myit, have around 300 troops stationed at Leik Tho Base (Battalion Commander Bo Kyaw Win), in Leik Tho Township, and an additional 40 soldiers at Pya Sa Khan Base (Battalion Commander Khin Maung Lwin), near Thandaung town. It has been reported that they control a number of different illicit operations, including gambling and black market car licencing.  They are also allegedly employed as security personnel by local companies and wealthy individuals involved in logging and mineral resource extraction, in addition to having direct involvement in the lumber and mineral business. Htanay Phyithu Sitt A’pweh should not be confused with Nyein Chan Yay A’pweh, which is occasionally translated as Peace Group but refers to the Karen Peace Army (KPA), aka the Karen Peace Force (KPF). Nor should it be conflated with Aye Chan Yay, another small militia group also operating in Toungoo District that the Thandaung Peace Group has come into conflict with. It is also distinct from the KNU/KNLA-Peace Council, which is also sometimes translated as ‘Peace Group’.

[4] Burmese prefix meaning ‘officer’

[5] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the July 3rd 2017 official market rate of 1,358.66 kyat to US $1.

[6] 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.

[7] Detailed information was available on these illnesses.

[8] It is unclear whether consent was given for these procedures, or indeed whether these procedures were in fact sterilisation. Provision of contraception for mothers following child birth is sometimes incorrectly referred to locally as sterilisation. KHRG is currently in the process of gathering further information.

[9] These midwifes are not medically trained and often just receive basic training and instruction from their elders.

[10] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 03/07/17 official market rate of 1,358.66 kyat to US $1.

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

[12] By demarcating the area as a reserved teak field it means villagers can longer plant crops and work the land as a plantation.

[13] 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.

[14] 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.