Hpapun Interview: U Fm---, 2016


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Hpapun Interview: U Fm---, 2016

Published date:
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

This Interview with U Fm--- describes his perspective events occurring in Dwe Lo Township, Hpapun District in November 2016, including education, healthcare, fighting, killing cases, land confiscation, a lack of justice, military activity, freedom of movement and the human rights situation. This interview was conducted for KHRG’s thematic report, ‘Foundation of Fear: 25 years of villagers’ voices from southeast Myanmar’.    

  • U Fm--- describes killing cases committed by Tatmadaw soldiers occurring in Fn---village, in Dwe Lo Township, Hpapun District before the 2012 preliminary ceasefire. There was no justice for victims because the Burma/Myanmar police force did not take any action against the perpetrators. 
  • U Fm--- states that he had to flee his village, Fn----village, due to ighting between the Karen National Liberation Army and the Tatmadaw which occurred in 1994.  He returned to his village to work on his land, despite the unstable situation, because he was unable to support his livelihood while living in other villages.
  • U Fm--- states that villagers cannot have full access to justice for human rights abuses because perpetrators are powerful actors, villagers want the perpetrators to be put in jail.
  • Fn--- villagers have a lack of freedom of movement due to the presence of army camps based near the village. Therefore, villagers demand army camps to withdraw from their local area.
  • Fn--- villagers do not have access to their land as they do not have land grants from the Burma/Myanmar government and the Karen National Union, so they worry that their land will be confiscated. Therefore, villagers want the Karen National Union and the Burma/Myanmar government to provide land grants for them.  


[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] The Pa-o are the seventh largest ethnic group in Burma/Myanmar predominately from southern Shan state.

[4] Japan invaded Burma in 1942 during World War 2, as it was deemed geo-strategically important, and could provide a land route from which to attack the British in India. Japan had trained Aung San, and the thirty comrades, to help fight the British. When Japan declared the State of Burma as independent in 1943 it quickly became evident that it was a puppet state of the Japanese Empire. British rule of Burma was restored in 1945, and Burma became Independent on January 4th, 1948.

[5] The Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA Benevolent) was formed in 2010 as a breakaway group following the transformation of the majority of the original Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (1994 – 2010) into Border Guard Forces (BGF). This group was originally called the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army until it changed its name to the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army in April 2012 in order to reflect its secularity. This group is comprised of different divisions, including Kloh Htoo Baw Battalion and DKBA-5, and was led for many years by General Saw Lah Pwe aka Na Khan Mway who died in March 2016 and was replaced by General Saw Mo Shay in April 2016. The DKBA (Benevolent) signed a preliminary ceasefire with the Burma/Myanmar Government on November 3rd 2011 and then signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on October 15th 2015. The group is based in Son Si Myaing area, Myawaddy/Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District, southern Kayin State. This DKBA (Benevolent) (2010 – present) should not be confused with, either the original DKBA (Buddhist) (1994-2010) which was transformed into the BGF in 2010, or with the DKBA (Buddhist) (2016 – present) which was formed in 2016 as a splinter group of the DKBA (Benevolent). Importantly, the DKBA (Benevolent) has signed both the preliminary and nationwide ceasefire agreements with the Burma/Myanmar government, whereas the DKBA (Buddhist) has not signed either agreement.

[6] Land grants are required to lease and work on a particular area of land. In Burma/Myanmar, all land is ultimately owned by the government.

[7] 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.

[8] The perpetrator of this abuse may have been claiming authority under one of the Burma/Myanmar government laws that allows rights to land to be transferred from villagers to private entities. The Wasteland Instructions Law (1991) enabled both domestic and foreign investment in large-scale commercial enterprises through transfer of use rights to designated "wasteland" (or "vacant, fallow and virgin land"). This practice was recently reaffirmed by the Vacant, Fallow, Virgin Land Law (2012). As development has increased in southeast Burma/Myanmar since the signing of the government-KNU ceasefire in January 2012, KHRG received an increasing number of complaints of confiscation of "uncultivated land" or "wasteland." For KHRG documentation of land confiscation arising from development projects, see “‘With only our voices, what can we do?’: Land confiscation and local response in southeast Myanmar,” KHRG, June 2015, as well as,  “Losing Ground: Land conflicts and collective action in eastern Myanmar,” KHRG, March 2013. For summary and analysis of the legal and policy framework relating to land management in Burma/Myanmar, see: Legal Review of Recently Enacted Farmland Law and Vacant Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law, Food Security Group - Land Core Group, November 2012.