Dooplaya Incident Report: Forced labour ordered by Tatmadaw officer in Win Yay Township, October 2017

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Dooplaya Incident Report: Forced labour ordered by Tatmadaw officer in Win Yay Township, October 2017

Published date:
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

This Incident Report describes forced labour and military troop rotation in Win Yay Township, Dooplaya District in October 2017.

  • On October 30th 2017, a village head named Mann K--- and his wife Nan G--- were ordered by Tatmadaw Officer Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo from Infantry Battalion (IB) #284 to clear vegetation and throw away rubbish at a Tatmadaw frontline army camp in A--- village, Hlut Shan village tract, Win Yay Township, [Dooplaya District]. This was punishment for not showing respect to the Tatmadaw Officer.
  • The village head, Mann K---, resigned from the village head position after the incident.
  • Villagers reported the forced labour case to the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Battalion #16 office, which responded that they recorded the case and would bring the case to the Joint Monitoring Committee meeting as a potential breach of ceasefire commitments.

Incident Report | Win Yay Township, Dooplaya District (October 2017)

 

The following Incident Report was written by a community member in Dooplaya District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor local human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security.[1] This report was received in February 2018 along with other information from Dooplaya District, including seven interviews, one situation update, 112 photographs and 2 video clips.[2]

Part 1 – Incident Details

Type of Incident

Forced Labour

Date of Incident(s)

October 30th 2017

Incident Location

(Village, Township and District)

A--- village, Hlut Shan village tract, Win Yay Township, Dooplaya District

 

Victim Information

Name

Mann[3] K---

Nan[4] G---

Age

39

41

Sex

Male

Female

Ethnicity

Karen

Karen

Family   

Married

Married

Occupation

Plantation worker

Plantation worker

Religion

Buddhist

Buddhist

Position

Village Head

Villager

Village

A---

A---

 

Perpetrator Information

Name(s)              

Rank

Unit

Base

Commander’s Name

Hein Ya Za Hpyo[5]

Major and temporary Camp Commander

IB #284

A--- village, Win Yay Township

Kyaw Min Aung

Part 2 - Information Quality

1. Explain in detail how you collected this information.

I [KHRG researcher] collected this information by myself. I met and interviewed [censored for security] in A--- village.

 

2. Explain how the source verified this information.

The [censored for security] provided me with the details about the incident. The information is therefore accurate.

Part 3 – Complete Description of the Incident

Describe the Incident(s) in complete detail.

The incident [of forced labour ordered by a Tatmadaw officer] happened on October 30th 2017 in A--- village, Hlut Shan village tract, Win Yay Township, [Dooplaya District].[6]

The incident occurred as follows. On the morning of October 30th, [Tatmadaw officer] Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo from Infantry Battalion (IB) #284 went to visit the village head named Mann K--- at his house in civilian clothes, but Mann K---’s wife, Nan G---, did not welcome and invite him in. According to Nan G---, when Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo came to her house, her husband was not there. Only her and her father, who is around 70 years old, were at the house. Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo asked her if her husband was in the house and she replied to him that her husband went to the plantation. Nan G--- does not speak Burmese well, which made her uncomfortable, and she feared for her security.

However, this made Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo angry at her and he accused her of not showing him respect. Therefore, he ordered both of them [the village head and his wife] to clear vegetation and throw away all of the rubbish at the army camp.

He ordered them [the village head and his wife] the same day to start work at 8:05 AM and released them to return home at 4:15 PM. It was quick [for the village head and his wife] to clear the vegetation because they cut the vegetation with a string trimmer but they needed to use seven bottles of petrol to clear all the vegetation. One bottle of petrol cost 1,000 kyats [$0.75 USD][7], so the cost of seven bottles of petrol amounted to 7,000 kyats [$5.25 USD], and the village head had to pay the entire cost by himself. They also had to clear and throw away all of the rubbish at the army camp. Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo did not allow the village head Mann K--- to rest and smoke while he worked. One of the Tatmadaw sergeants at the army camp invited the village head Mann K--- and his wife to have lunch, but the village head refused because they were worried that if the work was not completed they would not be released. Villagers saw the incident happen but they did not dare to say anything. Mann K--- was elected as a village head by villagers, but he quit the village head role [after the incident] and now lives as a normal villager because he does not dare to be a village head anymore. Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo also threatened them [the village head and his wife] by saying that he would not take it easy on them if they reported the case.

This incident is true. There were villagers who witnessed this event.  An A--- villager who is also a [censored for security] named Saw[8] H--- called the KNLA [Karen National Liberation Army] Battalion #16 office and reported the case, but the KNLA officer who talked to Saw H--- responded that they could not do anything at the moment. However, the officer stated that he took a record of what happened and that they [KNLA Battalion #16] would bring the case at the next Joint Monitor Committee (JMC) meeting.[9]

When the incident occurred, Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo was a temporary Camp Commander and commanded around 20 Tatmadaw soldiers at the frontline army camp of IB #284.  IB #284’s frontline army camp was settled in A--- village in 2016 and IB #284’s army base is in Lay Naw village, Kwee K’Chaw Kyee village tract, in Win Yay Township under command of the Kyainseikgyi Base Military Operation Command.

According to A--- villagers, in December 2017 after the incident, Major Hein Ya Za Hpyo left from the camp at A--- village to attend officer training at a training camp somewhere else. IB #284 was also replaced with IB #32 as part of the Tatmadaw’s quarterly troop rotation. The IB #32 soldiers came with five full military trucks.

Part 4 - Permission for Using the Details

Did the victim(s) provide permission to use this information? Explain how that permission was provided.

[Censored for security] gave permission to use this information.

 

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in southeast Burma/Myanmar to document individual incidents of abuse 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 incident reports, community members are encouraged to document incidents of abuse that they consider to be important, by verifying information from multiple sources, assessing for potential biases and comparing to local trends.

[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] Mann is a Pwo Karen male honorific title used before a person’s name.

[4] Nan is a Pwo Karen female honorific title used before a person’s name.

[5] Ya Za Hpyo of Infantry Battalion #284 has been implicated in the abuse of villagers in prior KHRG reports. See “Dooplaya Situation Update: Kyainseikgyi and Kawkareik townships, November to December 2015,” KHRG, August 2016.

[7] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the March 30th 2018 official market rate of 1,332 kyats to US $1.

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

[9] The Joint Monitoring Committee was established at the Myanmar state and regional level in late 2015 to monitor signatories’ adherence to the October 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. It considers the majority of its monitoring to be based on territorial disputes, but has been slow to respond to complaints over breaches of the NCA code of conduct, and lacks a formal complaint mechanism, or any enforcement powers. For more information see, “Majority of joint ceasefire monitoring committee complaints are territorial disputes,” The Irrawaddy, July 2017.