Short Update | Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District (October 2018)
The following Short Update was received by KHRG in October 2018. It was written by a community member in Dooplaya 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.
On October 1 2018, the Commander of the BGF Battalion #1017 Saw Hsa Poh ordered two village heads from A--- and B--- villages, Naung Kaing village tract to meet him. He requested this meeting to demand a tax from the local population that gathers and sells elephant foot yams, a vegetable used in local cuisine. [This segment of the community depends on this activity for their livelihoods, often because they do not have agricultural lands of their own].
The BGF Commander told the village heads that the taxes would be used for a community development fund. He requested a 500,000 kyats (US $315.70) tax for each five elephant foot yams cooked in the furnace in Naung Kaing village tract. The BGF warned the village heads that local people would be arrested if they did not pay this tax. The village heads were afraid of the BGF Commander but managed to lower the tax down to 400,000 kyats (US $ 252.57).
The local community perceives that the BGF does not have the authority to levy this tax. Although the BGF gave them a tax receipt, it does not include a signature to show who received the money. The BGF only has permission to collect taxes from the Kaung Hmuh village area, not in Naung Kaing village tract.
The local community believes that the BGF is trespassing into an area outside of their control. Because the BGF is based in Brigade #7, they wrote a letter reporting this incident to the KNLA Operation Commander Major Saw Hpaw Doh based in Brigade #7.