Situation Update | Htantabin Township and Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District (June to October 2016)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in November 2016. It was written by a community member in Toungoo District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security. This report was received along with other information from Toungoo District, including five interviews, 213 photographs and 6 video clips.
This situation update describes events occurring in Thandaunggyi Township and Htantabin Township, Toungoo District during the period between June and October 2016, including education, livelihood, development projects by companies and arbitrary land confiscation.
The [education] situation has changed within Taw Oo [Toungoo] District since the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement [NCA] was signed [in 2015]. Before the NCA was signed, children in IDP areas did not have proper schools and were facing barriers with getting access to education. But after the NCA was signed, the IDPs who sought refuge in Ei Tu Hta [IDP Camp] were able to return to their homes, which gave [the children] a chance to study properly. The IDPs from Ei Tu Hta IDP Camp returned to two areas in Taw Oo District and restored their [previous] schools and houses. Some schools, which were built by the Karen National Union [KNU], were restored without outside support; however, these schools continue to use the Karen Education Department [KED] curriculum. After the students complete primary school [Standard Four], they continue their studies at Htoe Lwee Wah [High] School in Taw Oo [Toungoo] District, starting from Standard Five.
There are two townships in Taw Oo [Toungoo] District: Daw Hpa Hko [Thandaunggyi] Township and Htaw Ta Htoo [Htantabin] Township. In these two townships, villagers from Daw Hpa Hko Township mostly secure their livelihood by working on plantations whereas villagers in Htantabin Township secure their livelihood by doing both highland and lowland agricultural work. In highland areas, villagers mostly grow cardamom, durian, coffee, dog fruit and betel nut. In lowland areas, villagers are mostly farming.
Between June and October 2016, villagers from Taw Oo District, especially [villagers from] Htaw Ta Htoo Township, faced difficulties because abnormal weather this year caused delayed harvests for plantations such as cardamom and durian. In fact, cardamom was harvested in September last year but was harvested in October this year so villagers [who work on those plantations] faced difficulties due to the late harvests.
Development by Companies
There are four companies that secured permission from the Burma/Myanmar government to conduct development [projects] in Kler Lar village, Htaw Ta Htoo Township, Taw Oo District. The purpose of this development project was to establish an electricity factory known as the Baw G’ Lee Electric Power Sub-plant. The four companies involved in establishing this electric power sub-plant were: Ye Thu Ya [YTY] Company, Yadanar Kyaw Company, Aung Myint Mo Company, Elpar Company.
Kyaw Kyaw Min, one of the electricity officers, took responsibility [for implementing the project] in the area of Kler Lar. We [KHRG researchers] conducted an interview with him [Kyaw Kyaw Min] about the electric power sub-plant on March 13th 2016.
These four development companies were each responsible for their own separate part of the [electric power sub-plant] project. YTY took responsibility to distribute to villagers electricity (400 Voltage), transmission line (11000), and power line (33 KV).
Regarding the Baw G’ Lee Electric Power Sub-plant, the YTY director named Ko Thu Ra would distribute [electricity] to the villagers of Kler Lar (Baw G’ Lee), Kaw Thay Der, Kler Soe Hkee, and Ler Khoe villages. Baw G’ Lee Electric Power Sub-plant would be distributed to Thay Say Taung, Pyaung Tho, and from Baw G’ Lee to Sapakyi (Pel Kaw Der) villages.
The Yadanar Kyaw Company [took responsibility] to distribute electricity (400 Voltage) to Thit Say Taung, Pyaung Tho, Kyauk Pone, Yay Tho Lay, Yay Tho Gyi, Sapakyi villages. Aung Myint Mo Company, directed by Ko Yin Thway, managed the 33 KV power line. He took responsibility to distribute electricity along the 21.4 miles to Baw G’ Lee. Elpar Company took responsibility for [managing the] electric power sub-plant.
Villagers report livelihood challenges due to land confiscation in A--- village, Kwun Pin village tract, Htantabin Township, [Toungoo Township], Bago Region. Specifically, due to the construction of a dam by the Burma/Myanmar government, residents of B--- village and C--- village were forced to leave and abandon their homes within three days [due to the imminent destruction of B--- village and C--- village]. Since the beginning of 1993, these villagers [from B--- village and C--- village] have faced constant difficulties and struggles to secure their livelihoods.