Chapter 1: Militarisation

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Chapter 1: Militarisation

Published date:
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
  1. Throughout KHRG’s 25 years of reporting, militarisation and abuse mainly by Tatmadaw and DKBA (Buddhist and Benevolent) has deliberately harmed and systematically targeted civilians through tactics including forced labour, forced recruitment, landmines and deliberate attacks on villages.
  2. Continued militarisation and the presence of armed actors in communities in southeast Myanmar results in an environment where villagers fear the continuation of abuses including forced recruitment of adults, deliberate attacks on villages and landmine contamination.
  3. A significant impact of militarisation and abuse is that villagers’ trust in Tatmadaw and, by association, the Myanmar government remains low. An additional impact over 25 years has been severe livelihood struggles for villagers.
  4. Villagers have employed agency tactics including direct negotiation with perpetrators, deliberate avoidance of armed actors and strategic displacement to avoid abuse. Villagers have also sought recourse through local government authorities and the justice system, but state that significant barriers including fear of retaliation prevent them accessing justice in cases of abuse by armed actors.

Footnotes

[1] This villager is speaking about his village after it was attacked by SPDC (Tatmadaw) Light Infantry Battalion #351, in March 2000, see “Papun and Nyaunglebin Districts, Karen State: Internally displaced villagers cornered by 40 SPDC Battalions; Food shortages, disease, killings and life on the run,” KHRG, April 2001.

[2] Tatmadaw refers to the Myanmar military throughout KHRG’s 25 years reporting period. The Myanmar military were commonly referred to by villagers in KHRG research areas as SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) between 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 Myanmar. Villagers also refer to Tatmadaw in some cases as simply “Burmese” or “Burmese soldiers”.

[4] 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’) and DKBA (splinter). 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 (splinter) 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 (splinter) has not signed the preliminary or nationwide ceasefire with the Myanmar government whereas the DKBA Benevolent has signed the two most recent ceasefire agreements.

[5] The last reported case of fighting in KHRG’s research areas which involved the direct targeting and displacement of civilians was when newly-reformed Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA splinter) and allied Tatmadaw and Border Guard Forces fought against each other on September 9th  2016. This led more than six thousand villagers to displace themselves, and significant landmine contamination due to DKBA (splinter) landmines prevents  many villagers from returning, 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,” KHRG, December 2016. Before the fighting broke out in September, the villagers were also forced to porter for DKBA (splinter), see “Hpa-an Interview: Saw A--- and Saw B---, October 2016,” KHRG, February 2017.

[6] “INCOMING FIELD REPORTS,” KHRG, August 1994.

[7] Villagers in southeast Myanmar have a complex relationship with armed groups. Due to the location of KHRG reporting areas, the majority of villagers report feeling unsafe near to Tatmadaw and BGF army camps, and to a lesser extent DKBA, but not commonly because of KNLA presence. KHRG receives fewer reports regarding security concerns because of KNLA but more reports on villagers’ expectations about how KNLA can improve their role and relationship in the local community. For more information on how these reports are received and analysed see the ‘Methodology’ of this report. For an example of villagers’ expectations on the KNLA, see “Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yay Township, June to July 2015,” KHRG, March 2017. For information about KNLA and BGF fighting, see “Violent abuse and killing committed by BGF soldiers in Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District, March to May 2015,” KHRG, July 2015; for DKBA (Benevolent) and Tatmadaw fighting, see “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyainseikgyi Township, March to May 2015,” KHRG, November 2015.

[8] “Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, February 2016,” KHRG, November 2016. For a recent case of villagers’ houses being burnt, see “Dooplaya Interview: Naw A--- February 2016,” KHRG, August 2016, where fighting happened between DKBA (splinter) and BGF in Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District from July 2015 to February 2016. The fighting occurred in civilian areas but the villagers were not allowed to escape from the fighting, and their freedom of movement was severely restricted; see also “Dooplaya Field Report: Military conflict, violent abuse, and destruction  caused by development projects, January to December 2015,”KHRG, October 2016.

[9] Na Ma Kya is a Burmese phrase which directly translates as ‘Deaf Ear’. Na Ma Kya in this context refers to the name of a Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) splinter group based in Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District. According to local villagers, this group often acts with impunity, ignoring both the local people’s input as well as the higher DKBA authorities’ orders. Commander Kyaw Moh, well known as Na Ma Kya, who was leading this splinter group, was killed by one of BGF Commander Bo Tin Win’s mahouts on August 29th 2016. For more information see DKBA Splinter Group Confirms Leader’s Death, The Irrawaddy, August 31st  2016; ဗုိလ္နားမၾကားကဆင္ထိန္းမ်ားကို ျပန္ေပးဆြ ဲျခင္းမဟုတ္ဟု ဒီေကဘီေအျငင္းဆုိ, Democratic Voice Of Burma, September 2nd 2016. According to unpublished KHRG information from Kawkareik Township in Dooplaya District the circumstances surrounding his death remained unconfirmed.

[10] “Dooplaya Interview: Naw G---, September 2016,” KHRG, December 2016. Naw C---’s daughter remains blind in one eye and no longer attends school following this incident. See also “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, June 2015 to August 2016,” KHRG, December, 2016.

[12] Source #116.

[13] For more information see the Context section of this report.

[14] “ATTACKS ON KAREN VILLAGES: FAR SOUTH,” KHRG, March 1997.

[15] “Hpa-an Interview: Saw A--- and Saw B---, October 2016,”KHRG, February 2017. In a separate incident, Ma A---reported that Myanmar police poured away her rice when they looted her shop in June 2015, see “Thaton Interview: Ma A---, July 2015,” KHRG, August 2015.

[16] “KAREN  HUMAN  RIGHTS  GROUP  INFORMATION  UPDATE,”  KHRG,  September  1998.  For  more information on displacement see Chapter 7: Displacement and Return.

[18] 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 webpageon the Myanmar Peace Monitor website. For KHRG’s analysis of changes in human rights conditions since the ceasefire, see TruceorTransition?Trendsinhumanrightsabuseandlocalresponsesincethe2012ceasefire, 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,” KarenNationalUnionHeadquarters, 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,” KarenNews, April 22nd 2015.

[20] See for example source #4 where BGF demanded 2 million kyat (US$1,898) in leui of recruitment.

[23] ThaKaHsaHpais an abbreviation of ThaungKyaunThuSanKyinYay, which means ‘anti-insurgency group’ in Burmese. This militia was formed in 2010 by Moe Nyo, a former Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) leader, who split from the DKBA after it transitioned into a Border Guard Force (BGF). Moe Nyo eventually joined the BGF in Battalion #1014, while still continuing to operate Tha Ka Hsa Hpa, see “Thaton Situation Update: Bilin and Hpa-an townships, June to November 2014,” KHRG, February 2015; and “Incident Report: Forced recruitment in Thaton District #1, May 2012,” KHRG, May 2013.

[24] KNLA committed in July 2013 to the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment to recruit no civilian under 18 years of age into their armed forces, admitting to Geneva Call that “this rule had not always been respected in the past”. See, “The KNU/KNLA commits to the protection of children and the prohibition of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence,” Geneva Call, July 24th 2013.

[25] Source #44.

[26] State Law and Order Restoration Council replaced the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) following the September 18th 1988 coup d’état by then General Saw Maung (later Senior General). The SLORC was officially dissolved in 1997 by Senior General Than Shwe and was replaced by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). It is commonly used by villagers to refer also to Myanmar’s state army, the Tatmadaw.

[28] 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. LIBs are primarily used for offensive operations, but they are sometimes used for garrison duties.

[29] Rangoon is the British colonial name for the former capital city now known as Yangon, changed in 1989 by the military junta.

[31] Maung Chit Thu, commonly referred to as Chit Thu, was the operations commander of Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Battalion #999 prior to the DKBA transformation into the Tatmadaw Border Guard Force, which began in September 2010. His role has grown considerably since the transformation: he was second in command of Tatmadaw Border Guard Forces, overseeing BGF battalions #1017, #1018, #1019 and #1012, and is now a senior advisor and general secretary of the Karen State BGF central command based in Ko Ko, Hpa-an District. Abuses committed by Maung Chit Thu have been cited in previous KHRG reports, including ordering the forcible relocation of villagers from eight villages in Lu Pleh Township in July 2011, while acting as a Border Guard commander; see “Pa’an   Situation Update: June to August 2011,” KHRG, October 2011. For more information on the DKBA/Border Guard transformation, see, “Border Guard Forces of Southeast Command formed in Paingkyon of Kayin State,” NewLight of Myanmar, August 22nd 2010; and “Border Guard Force formed at Atwinkwinkalay region, Myawaddy Township, Kayin State,” New LightofMyanmar, August 25th 2010.

[32] “ABUSES AND RELOCATIONS IN PA’AN DISTRICT,” KHRG, August 1997; for additional cases of child recruitment by Tatmadaw see “PHOTO SET 2005-A: Children,” KHRG, May 2005; “INTERVIEWS ON THE SCHOOL SITUATION,” KHRG, June 1996; “INTERVIEWS WITH SLORC ARMY DESERTERS,” KHRG, May 1996; “Life inside the Burma Army: SPDC deserter testimonies,” KHRG, May 2008; and KHRG’s joint submission to OHCHR, “CRC Shadow Report: Burma, The plight of children under military rule in Burma,” Child Rights Forum, April 2011.

[33] “Statement on Initial Agreement between KNU and Burmese Government,” Karen National Union, January 2012.

[34] For a comprehensive definition of the types of forced labour see KHRG’s submission to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), “Summary of forced labour in Burma,” KHRG, August 1997.

[36] “Hpapun Interview: U A---, January 2014,” KHRG, October 2014

[38] Source #45.

[39] State Peace and Development Council of the military junta ruling Myanmar at the time. The SPDC was officially dissolved March 30th  2011 by Senior General Than Shwe following the election of a quasi-civilian government in Myanmar in November 2010. It is commonly used by villagers to refer also to Myanmar’s state army, the Tatmadaw.

[40] Tatmadaw in this case re-filled the trucks with 5 gallons of petrol but did not pay a rental fee for the village cars, source #85; see also source #73; see also “Dooplaya Situation Update: Win Yay Township, June to July 2015,” KHRG, March 2017.

[41] See for example sources #66 and #90. KHRG has received multiple reports detailing abuses involving BGF Battalion #1013 and #1014, including: “BGF Battalion #1014 demands forced labour, asserts heavily militarised presence in villages in Hpapun District, June 2015,” KHRG, December 2015; “Hpapun Incident Report: Villager killed by Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalion #1013 in Bu Tho Township, March 2015,” KHRG, September 2015; “Human rights violations by Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalion #1014 in Bu Tho Township, Hpapun District, May 2012 to March 2014,” KHRG, July 2015. Further reports detailing abuses involving these battalions are also available on the KHRG website.

[44] For example, “They forced us to work for them. They told us that they would go just over there [a short distance], but then they made us go for 2 to 3 days. They forced us to carry very heavy things. Although we could not carry the things, we had to try hard until we could. We had to carry bags of cement, or bullets, rice and other food. We had to carry anything that they needed us to carry for them.” “STRENGTHENING THE GRIP ON DOOPLAYA: Developments in the SPDC Occupation of Dooplaya District,” KHRG, June 1998.

[45] This district is no longer covered in KHRG’s operation area.

[46] “Statements by Karenni Refugees,” KHRG, June 1992.

[47] “I’m not sure what happens to the porter fees– maybe some goes for porters or to build roads and things, but I think maybe, the SLORC just uses it for themselves. All the money to build everything comes from the people – we’re forced to pay different fees every month, always collected by the Army.” Living Conditions around Pa’an Town,” KHRG, May 1993.

[48] “SLORC ABUSES IN HLAING BWE AREA,” KHRG, March 1994.

[51] “Nyaunglebin Interview: U A---, January 2016,” KHRG, September 2016.

[53] “Two separate landmine incidents happened in Hpapun and Nyaunglebin districts, March and April 2016,” KHRG, August 2016.  An additional case is from January 24th 2014 where 26 year old Saw BB--, from Ler Meh Plaw village tract, Lu Thaw Township, Hpapan District went hunting with his friend in the forest and witnessed his friend stepping on a landmine suspected to be laid by Tatmadaw. His friend died two hours later, see source #11.

[54] “Nyaunglebin Situation Update: Mone Township, April to May 2016,” KHRG, August 2016. Villagers also report the financial and livelihood insecurity that results from livestock stepping on landmines. For a recent case of a farmer’s buffaloes being killed and injured by landmines see, “Hpapun Incident Report: Landmine kills one buffalo and injures two in Bu Tho Township, April 2015,” KHRG, March 2016.

[55] “Nyaunglebin Interview: U A---, January 2016,” KHRG, September 2016

[56] Source #89.

[57] Source #121.

[59] “The villagers they shot were Per Taluand Pa Mu Dah [both men]. They were Taw Oak villagers. One was 15 years old and the other was 34.… Four of us had gone to look for vegetables. On our way back, we didn’t know that the Burmese soldiers had come to our village. They had already laid some landmines on the path, but none of us stepped on them. Then we saw the smoke  of a farm hut that they had set on fire, but we thought they wouldn’t do anything to us because we’re only villagers. Suddenly we saw a soldier carrying a gun, and I knew he was a Burmese soldier. I started to run and he shot at me, so I fell down and lay quietly even though I wasn’t injured. Then he shot at my friend and hit him, but he wasn’t badly wounded and ran right on past me. Then the Karen soldiers started shooting at them, and the Burmese shot dead my other 2 friends. … They took the bags of the 2 dead people and took some of their vegetables and the squirrels they’d caught to eat. Then they burned the bodies and the rest of the vegetables with some scrap wood. After that they laid landmines around the bodies, so that nobody would dare go to remove them. Later another villager went to the place where the bodies were, and he died because he stepped on one of the mines. After that the Burmese captured another Taw Oak villager and executed him too because they accused him of being a KNU spy.” UNCERTAINTY, FEAR AND FLIGHT: The Current Human Rights Situation in Eastern Pa’an District,” KHRG, November 1998.

[60] “One villager, SawZZ---,was killed by a landmine on about June 11th of this year [1998] at AAa---.He was 60 years old and had 2 children, his wife had already died. Burmese LIB 707 planted a landmine at the foot of the steps infront of his house.”Field Reports and Interviews,” KHRG, October 1998; see also “UNCERTAINTY, FEAR AND  FLIGHT: The Current Human Rights Situation in Eastern Pa’an District,” KHRG, November 1998.

[62] “Field Reports and Interviews,” KHRG, October 1998.

[64]“In February 2012, KNLA Battalion #101 and Border Guard Battalion #3 worked together following an order to remove the landmines.Those who came and removed the landmines were Border Guard   Company Commander Hpah Maw Hkoh, with Sergeant Kee Kyaw, Private Htwee Heh Kay and Battalion Deputy Commander Maung Ngway Heh, and they managed it with 20 of their soldiers. With regards to the KNLA, 2nd Lieutenant K’Loo Koo and Hpah Htwee Maw managed it with about 15 soldiers. Some of the village heads accompanied them.They were able to remove 30l and mines altogether. At 3:00 pm on that same day, February 11tha Border Guard soldier named Htwee Heh Kay was hit by one of their own landmines; because of that, the removal of landmines was stopped.” Pa’an Situation Update: T'Nay Hsah Township, September 2011 to April 2012” KHRG, July 2012; see also “Hpapun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, June 2016 to August 2016,” KHRG, November 2016.

[65] Source #78.

[66] Source #125.

[67]See for example, “Since 1997, the SPDC has been using the name‘peace’ for everything, as anattempt to show that it is creating peace; hence‘Peace Group’,‘Peace Village’,‘exchanging arms for
peace’, and ‘State Peace and Development Council’” PEACE VILLAGES AND HIDING VILLAGES: Roads, Relocations, and the Campaign for Control in Toungoo District ,” KHRG, October 2000.

[68] Source #134.

[69] “DEATH SQUADS AND DISPLACEMENT,” KHRG, May 1999.

[71] Villagers have experienced negative retaliation by armed actors when they have reported recent abuses. For example, villagers reported to local media groups about forced labour demands by BGF Battalion Commander BoMaung Chit in 2015. When Bo Maung Chit discovered this, he intimidated villages and told them that, “you had reported about how we forced you to do labour works in  this way and in that way and do cumented my name in the report.” “Hpapun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, June to October 2015,” KHRG, September 2016.

[72] “I know that the Burma / Myanmar government military [Tatmadaw] are sending more rations, more ammunitions [military supplies] and upgrading their army  camps. Therefore, the ceasefire
agreement does not make me feel satisfied and I do not feel like I can trust the ceasefire to stop the fighting. I do not understand what the Burma/ Myanmar government is planning in this ceasefire process. I understand that if they are honest [in their intentions] about this ceasefire agreement they should not upgrade their army camps and send more ammunition. Therefore, I don’t really understand [trust] this ceasefire process.” source #173; see also source #171. The transportation of rations by Tatmadaw has explicitly caused villagers to fear that fighting will break out, see “Toungoo Incident Report: Tatmadaw transport rations and ammunition in Thandaunggyi Township, December 2013,” KHRG, May 2014.

[73] For example, villages that surround a Tatmadaw army base in Nyaunglebin District were forced to labour in 2012, see “Nyaunglebin Situation Update: Kyauk Kyi Township, May to July 2012,” KHRG, March 2013; for interviews with villagers who survived being shot on sight see, “CONTINUING SLORC ACTIONS IN KAREN STATE,”KHRG, May 1994.

[74] These continued security concerns explained by villagers living near army camps are not unfounded as reports of violent abuse, extortion, forced labour and killing of villagers by armed actors in southeast Myanmar have been received since the signing of the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. For example, on July 8th 2015 two young male villagers, aged 17 and 21 respectively, were shot and killed by Tatmadaw soldiers while they were travelling to Meh T’Ree village, Hpa-an District. Both of them did not know that Tatmadaw soldiers had taken their position for the fighting in the Meh Tha Waw area, and as they were walking towards the soldiers along the road they were shot dead. Relatives of the two dead villagers attempted to take home the dead bodies but Tatmadaw soldiers did not allow them. See source #74.

[76] Field Reports and Interviews,” KHRG, October 1998; see also “KHRG Photo Gallery 2009,” KHRG, July 2009. 

[77] Source #13.

[78] Villagers  risk  arrest  and  execution  to  harvest  their  crops,”  KHRG,  December  2007;  for  further  livelihood restrictions due to past militarisation see also, “PEACE VILLAGES AND HIDING VILLAGES: Roads, Relocations, and the Campaign for Control in Toungoo District,” KHRG, October 2000. For examples of villagers killed by landmines when travelling outside of their village and villagers being shot-on-sight when travelling to their farmlands see, “Rural development and displacement: SPDC abuses in Toungoo District,” KHRG, January 2009; “SLORC SHOOTINGS & ARRESTS OF REFUGEES,” KHRG, January 1995; and “REPORTS FROM THE KAREN PROVINCES,” KHRG, September 1992.

[79] Nyaunglebin Interview: U A---, January 2016,” KHRG, September 2016.

[80] Lo hah pay is a Burmese term now commonly used in reference to forced labour, although traditionally referring to voluntary service for temples or the local community, not military or state projects.

[81] CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE,” KHRG, September 1999.

[82] “TESTIMONY OF PORTERS ESCAPED FROM SLORC FORCES,” January 1992; see also “STATEMENT BY NAW HTOO PAW,” KHRG, April 1992; “THE CURRENT SITUATION IN MUDRAW (PAPUN) DISTRICT”, KHRG, November 1992. For example, “Sometimes shells came into our camp and porters got wounded. Some porters had their legs blown off, and some others got fractures. I saw the SLORC [Tatmadaw] soldiers bring back 3 wounded porters from the front and put them on the ground in a spot off to the side. They just left them there to die. Two other porters I saw had been wounded with broken arms, and the soldiers still forced them to carry as long as they could. I don’t know if any of the wounded porters lived.” PORTER TESTIMONIES: KAWMOORA REGION,” KHRG, December 1992.

[86] “Although they had trucks parked in BBb---, they didn’t use them and the SPDC [Tatmadaw] soldiers were selling the petrol. For us, the villagers, they ordered us to clear the landmines and 
 ordered us to walk infront of them. We were also afraid of t he landmines, that we might be injured. But as they might give us a problem if we didn’t go, we had to go.” Toungoo District: The civilian response to human rights violations,” KHRG, August 2006; see also “ATTACKS ON KAREN REFUGEE CAMPS: 1998,” KHRG, May 1998.

[87]  “FORCED LABOUR AROUND TAUNGOO TOWN,” KHRG, July 1996; see also “SLORC IN KYA-IN & KAWKAREIK TOWNSHIPS,” KHRG, February 1996; and   “INCOMING FIELD REPORTS,” KHRG, August 1994; “PORTER STORIES: CENTRAL KAREN STATE,” KHRG, October 1996; “ATTACKS ON KAREN REFUGEE CAMPS,” KHRG, March 1997.

[88] “INCOMING FIELD REPORTS,” KHRG, August 1994.

[89] For a detailed analysis of village agency tactics under militarisation, see KHRG’s “Village Agency: Rural rights and resistance in a militarized Karen State,” November 2008.

[90] See for example Source #155; see also: “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kawkareik Township, August to October 2015,” KHRG, July 2016.

[91] Source #162.

[92]  For example, three family members in Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya were asked to ‘volunteer’ to transport Tatmadaw soldiers to another village in 2015. After the Tatmadaw had promised to reimburse them for petrol and failed to do so, Saw A—’s sister went to Kler La army camp to ask for the compensation directly from the operations commander, who then paid her. “Dooplaya Interview: Saw A---, November 2015,” KHRG, September 2016.

[96] For example, one village head in Thaton District spoke back to the DKBA after villagers were beaten and demanded to do forced labour, “Thaton Interview: Naw L---,” KHRG, January 2012.

[98] “Localvillagersstillhave tofear,[theyfeel]underthreat,face the loss or destruction of properties and do not dare to speak openly because if they say [anything] it can have negative consequences
 
for them if there is armed conflictagain. I [researcher] have to explain everything them [local villagers] and tell them not to worry about what they say and [not to worry about] providing information [because] it is about human rights issues.” Source #55. This fear is also evident in earlier KHRG reports, for example, “villagers don’t dare report incidents like this [abuse] to officials due to their
fears of retaliation.Papun and Nyaunglebin Districts, Karen State: Internally displaced villagers cornered by 40 SPDC Battalions; Food shortages, disease, killings and life on the run,” KHRG, April 2001.

[100] For example, “No woman can go anywhere alone – we must always go in groups of at least two or three, or they’ll take us for sure.” STATEMENTS BY INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE,” KHRG, April 1993. In 2014, another KHRG report stated, “Thebestthing would be if they [Tatmadaw] were notinthe village. Another thing is it is difficult for the women to go around in the
village at night time alone. They worry that if they encounter with the Burmese soldiers[Tatmadaw] they will do something to them.” Source #39.

[102] For more information see Chapter 2: Violent Abuse: Threats, Gender-based Violence, Torture and Killing.

[103] “Aftermorethana month, four of us tried to run away at night when the soldiers weren’t looking. They didn’t see us, but in the dark we ran into another group of soldiers and porters. They fired a grenade at us. [Note: The weapon used appears to have been a launched grenade fired from the end of a modified rifle.] It hit us. I just saw my friend Pa Deh fall dead, and then I fell unconscious. I don’t know how long I was asleep. When I woke up it was still dark and Pa Deh’s body was there. He was 26 years old. I never saw what happened to my other two friends. There was a lot of blood coming from my head but I didn’t feel any pain yet. I got up and ran away. I got back to my village, and they took care of me and brought me across to the Mae Sot hospital in Thailand.” THE CURRENT SITUATION IN MUDRAW (PAPUN) DISTRICT,” KHRG, November 1992.

[104] “SLORC SHOOTINGS & ARRESTS OF REFUGEES,” KHRG, January 1995.

[105] “REFUGEES FROM THE SLORC OCCUPATION,” KHRG, May 1997.

[106] “Living conditions for displaced villagers and ongoing abuses in Tenasserim Division,” KHRG, October 2009. For more information on IDPs and refugees see Chapter 7: Displacement and Return.

[109] “In each village the troops then began systematically looting the houses, shooting the lives tock for food and stripping the fruit and coconut trees. They said that anyone who had fled must be KNU, so they looted everything from anyhouse which was abandoned. They took as much rice as they wanted, and if there was more they poured it in the streams or spread it on the ground and walked 
on it. They took valuables, clothing and other items to keep or to send to their families in the cities, and what they did not want  they destroyed or threw away in the forest, even the cook pots and sleeping mats. They even stripped the houses of useful building materials to be sent to their camps. In many cases, the abandoned houses were then burned. Where the entire village was abandoned, such as in CCc---village, they burned every house in the village.”REFUGEES FROM THE SLORC OCCUPATION,” KHRG, May 1997; see also “SLORC SHOOTINGS & ARRESTS OF REFUGEES,” KHRG, January 1995. For more information see Chapter 5: Looting, Extortion and Arbitrary Taxation.

[110] Source #155.

[111]“Our enemies [SPDC/Tatmadaw] came and mistreated our villagers. Wehadto flee andmove during the night. We had to build new houses for our families and at the sametime, we had to go
back and secretly taker ice from our rice barn. We also had to clear new hill fields in order to survive. We didn’t have much time to cut down the forest for our hill fields so we could only clear a small area. We couldn’t do more than that because we had to build new houses... We could only clear an area in which we could plant just two or three big tins [25 kg/55 lb to 37.5 kg/78 lb] of paddy seed.” Burma Army attacks and civilian displacement in northern Papun District,” KHRG, June 2008.

[112] For example see source #155, where recently displaced Saw EEe--- states that he wishes to return to his village in order to secure his harvest, as his paddy plants are currently overgrown.

[113] “Usually we knew they were coming because people would come running from other nearby villages and tell us. never got caught by the SLORC [Tatmadaw]. When we ran we scattered into the forest. Some went to remote huts they have in their ricefield or hidden in the forest, while others just stayed under the trees. Sometimes we only had to stay away from the village for 1 day, but usually for at least a few days.” STATEMENTS BY KARENNI REFUGEES,” KHRG, June 1992.

[114]“Whenever SLORC [Tatmadaw] troops enter the area, all men in the village flee to avoid being tortured or taken as porters,while the women stay to protect their belongings […] On 10 April
1993, troops from 73 Battalion came to DDd--- village. All the men escaped, and only the women were left. The soldiers captured over 20 women and said they would be made into porters unless the villagers paid 2,000 Kyat [US$2.00] for each woman. The villagers paid and the women were released.” Forced Relocation in Kyauk Kyi Township,” KHRG, June 1993.This was still the case in later reports including, “Abuse in Pa'an District, Insecurity in Thailand: The dilemma for new refugees in Tha Song Yang,” KHRG, September 2009.

[115“Every time the soldiers enter any village, the villagers alltry to run away because they’re afraid to be taken as porters.If the soldiers see anyone running away they shoot at them, even at women
and children. They kill many villagers like this.”STATEMENTS BY KARENNI REFUGEES,” KHRG, June 1992.

[116] See for example, “REFUGEES FROM THE SLORC OCCUPATION,” KHRG, May 1997.

[119] Source #42.

[120] For example, villagers feel unsafe to travel in their work field because of landmine contamination, source #11.

[124] For more information on conditions in IDP and refugee camps, see Chapter 7: Displacement and Return.

[125] For example see source #164; see also source #163.

[126] Section 445 of the Constitution states: “All policy guidelines, laws, rules,regulations, notifications and declarations of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and
 
Development Council or actions, rights and responsibilities of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and Development Council shall devolve on the Republic of the Union  of Myanmar. No proceeding shall be instituted against the said Councils or any member there of or any member of the Government, inrespect of any act done in the execution of their respective duties.”

Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, 2008.

[127] Source #163.

[128] “Thaton Interview: Naw C---, June 2015,” KHRG, October 2016.

[129] Source #163.

[130]  See, for example: “At the present time it [the case has been submitted and pending] for almost one year in the office. They [the suspects] have been arrested for a year and they have not been punished and not released; they [Myanmar police] just detain them in the prison [without trial].Thaton Interview: Naw C---, June 2015,” KHRG, October 2016; see also source #84.

[131] See, for example, the case of two villagers killed in a road accident with a Tatmadaw military truck in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, May 2016: “Tatmadaw soldiers took him [Ko Ye] to the military court but villagers still do not know how hew as punished and what punishment was given to him. Tatmadaw did not give any compensation to[the families of] two villagers who 
were killed and they also did not inform the relatives of those two villagers [about the incident].”Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, June to August 2016,” KHRG, March 2017.

[132] Source #33; see also “Toungoo Situation Update: Thandaunggyi Township, June to August 2016,” KHRG, March, 2017.

[133] Source #102.

[134] “FIELD REPORTS: MERGUI-TAVOY DISTRICT,” KHRG, July 1995.

[135] Source #164.

[136] Source #163.