Situation Update | Htantabin Township, Toungoo District (March to April 2018)
The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in May 2018. 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 eight interviews.
Tatmadaw Military Activities
Local people in Htantabin Township believe that the Tatmadaw military activities have increased since the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). The Tatmadaw soldiers are patrolling in the area more frequently.
From February 2018 onwards, the Karen National Union (KNU) and the local community have voiced their disapproval of the construction of a military road by the Tatmadaw from Kler Lah to Moh Hkee. The Tatmadaw has not stopped the construction. When the road reached Kler Lah, KNU authorities tried to stop further construction. Within three months of this incident, around 20-30 Tatmadaw soldiers came to the area with heavy weaponry, according to a local community member.
To build this road, Tatmadaw soldiers cut down bamboo plants owned by local people. They also built their army camps close to local villages.
When the Tatmadaw reached Kaw Thay Der village, they ordered local people to be forced porters. Tatmadaw soldiers forced them to carry rations and bullets to the Tatmadaw army camp in Bu Hsar Hkee village.
Local community members from the surrounding area are worried about the fact that the Tatmadaw military road from Kler Lah will soon reach their village. They are worried that fighting will occur between the Tatmadaw and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).
The Tatmadaw road construction is impacting the livelihoods of the local populations, who are already struggling on their plantations because of difficult weather conditions. Villagers who have crops besides the road are afraid to farm their land because of the proximity to Tatmadaw soldiers. The KNU and the local community did not give permission to the Tatmadaw to advance into this area. Local villagers do not feel safe. They are afraid that Tatmadaw soldiers will see them when they are farming, and shoot them on sight.