Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yay and Kyainseikgyi Townships, June and August 2017

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Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yay and Kyainseikgyi Townships, June and August 2017

Published date:
Friday, February 9, 2018

This Situation Update describes events occurring in Win Yay Township and Kyainseikgyi Township Dooplaya District during the period between June and August 2017, including Tatmadaw activity, education, healthcare, development projects, land confiscation and recently returned IDPs and refugees.  

  • In June 2017, Tatmadaw Infantry Battalion (IB) #283, IB #31, local business people and a Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) company commander from Battalion #17 conducted logging in community forests in violation of village rules.
  • Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #406 was quartered at a monastery and a house in P--- village Kyainseikgyi Township. P--- villagers submitted a complaint letter to the Karen National Union (KNU) District office in opposition to the Tatmadaw quartering but no response has been received.
  • Many schools in Win Yay Township face challenges such as a shortage of available school teachers, a reduction in financial support for some schools, and a lack of accountability for the performance of some Burma/Myanmar government teachers.
  • Villagers whose land was damaged by road construction for the Than Phyu Zayet-Three Pagodas Pass road have not received compensation and feel that the overall road construction process lacks transparency.
  • One major challenge villagers faced in Win Yay Township is land confiscation by the Burma/Myanmar government and by the Tatmadaw. Without access to land, villagers have difficulty securing their livelihoods.
  • Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) and refugees who relocated to an area with houses constructed by the Nippon Foundation faced difficulties accessing water, education, healthcare and were concerned about their security. Consequently, some refugees returned their houses to the local authorities and went back to the refugee camp from which they had left.

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] T’la aw trees are teak-like trees with large leaves, which are traditionally collected by villagers and used to make thatch shingles for the roofs of houses.

[4] An Infantry Battalion (Tatmadaw) comprises 500 soldiers. However, most 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.  They are primarily used for garrison duty but are sometimes used in offensive operations.

[5] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the 22nd January 2018 official market rate of 1,342 kyats to US $1.

[6] The Strategic Operations Commander typically has under his regional command, three to four battalions and a headquarters, mostly for defence.

[7] 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.

[8] Saw is a S’gaw Karen male honorific title used before a person’s name.

[9] 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.

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

[11] For more information about this incident, please see the following news article: “Myanmar reports outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on poultry farm: OIE,” Reuters, July 2017.

[13] KHRG has previously reported on villager disagreements with this national highway road construction project in “Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, September 2016,” (KHRG, August 2017) and “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township and Win Yay Township, November 2016 to January 2017,” (KHR, August 2017)

[14] KHRG previously reported on the construction of these houses in “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyainseikgyi Township, February to May 2017,” (September 2017, KHRG). KHRG reported in that situation update that villagers were dissatisfied with the houses because of livelihood challenges due to the lack of accompanying farmland.

[15] For further information on how the KNU collects taxation please see “Ceasefire, Governance and Development: The Karen National Union in Times of change,"Kim Jolliffe,The Asia Foundation, December 2016

[16] Tactical Commander General (Bo) Saw San Aung is a low-ranking but widely known commander of the DKBA (Buddhist) splinter group which was formed from a breakaway group of DKBA (Benevolent) in January 2016 in Hpa-an District. Prior to the formation of the DKBA (Benevolent) splinter group, Bo San Aung had been twice dismissed from DKBA (Benevolent) for his conduct.  See, “DKBA sacks Brigadier General Saw Kyaw Thet and Colonel Saw San Aung,” Mizzima, July 2015. DKBA (Benevolent) splinter group have been active in fighting in the Hpa-an District, see "Recent fighting between newly-reformed DKBA and joint forces of BGF and Tatmadaw soldiers led more than six thousand Karen villagers to flee in Hpa-an District, September 2016,".