Situation Update | K’Ser Doh Township, Mergui-Tavoy District (March to May 2017)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in June 2017. It was written by a community member in Mergui-Tavoy 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.
There were many different perspectives on development projects in different areas of K’Hser Doh Township. There was hatred between people in different areas when their perspectives would not match. Some villagers did not obey and refused the guidance of their leaders.
The problem of drug use has continued to grow. However, some village heads were not motivated to deal with the issue.
Since February 2017, gold mining has occurred in Dy--- village, Paw Hkloe area. A group founded by four people approached the village head of Dy--- and the villagers asked for permission to conduct gold mining. However, their request was denied.
They just carried on with their plans to mine gold regardless. The local District and Township leaders were not consulted. The village head felt disappointed with their actions and wanted to resign from his position.
A Community-based Organization (CBO) that is working in this area envisioned to protect the environment and streams for the villages along Paw Hkloe river bank. It has been working to support the community enhance natural sustainability, health, and the well-being of villagers. However, we noticed that due to gold mining the streams have become polluted and are carrying less water. We know that they were using restricted substances and chemicals for gold extraction that has caused the water pollution.
Currently, gold mining, logging, and coal mining businesses are negatively impacting the community. The business projects have created biases, misunderstandings and lack of unity among the Karen. Companies do not comply with their codes of conduct. They usually cooperate with the Myanmar government in order to implement their business activities.
Asia Company Road Construction
The Myanmar government cooperated with the Asia Company and built a road in K’Hser Doh Township. From November 2016 to May 2017, the company started constructing a 40 mile-long road from Hkay Tu Toe area to the crossroads of Thaw Kheh river bank and Hpaw Taw Teh Weh Pa Meh area. The road that was built between Hpaw Taw and the Taw Kheh river source is 50 feet wide. The road construction damaged villagers’ coconut, betel nut, and rubber trees. However, the company did not compensate for any of these damages. Instead, they said that the road was constructed for civilian use. This road leads to Kyaw Zin Hpya area, the location of the Asian Highway.
Myanmar Government Activity
Some local people proposed to teach Karen language and culture at schools once a week. However, this proposal has not yet been considered, as the Karen leaders did not yet meet with the Union Government in Nay Pyi Taw to negotiate and discuss this request.