8. Rights of Ethnic Minorities

8.1 Background

8.2 Ethnic Politics, Armed Resistance, and Ceasefire Agreements

8.3 Need for a Tripartite Dialogue

8.4 SPDC Campaign of Abuses Against Ethnic Minority Villagers

8.5 Abuse of Ethnic Minorities by Ceasefire Groups

8.6 Interference and Denial of Cultural Expression and Events

8.7 Land Confiscation and Resettlement

8.8 Appendix I: SPDC List of Ethnic Minority Groups of Burma

8.9 Appendix II: Map of Ethnic Minority Territory in Burma

8.10 Appendix III: Ceasefire Status of Ethnic Opposition Groups

8.1 Background


As one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, Burma has over 135 different ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages and dialects. (See Appendix I: List of Ethnic Minority Groups in Burma). Of Burma’s estimated population of 50 million people, over 20 million belong to a non-Burman ethnic minority group. The ethnic minority communities of Burma constitute 40 percent of the population and occupy 55 percent of the land area or 371,000 sq. km. The major ethnic groups include the Chin, Kachin, Karen (or Kayin), Karenni (or Kayah), Mon, Rakhine (or Arakan), Shan, and Rohingya. These groups predominantly occupy land located along the border areas. (See Appendix II: Map of Ethnic Minority Territory in Burma). Although these groups are referred to as “ethnic minorities,” they have always played a prominent role in the political and social spheres of Burma. Despite this, they represent a marginalized people who have suffered severe forms of discrimination, exclusion and oppression by the military regime of Burma. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


The impressive and unique diversity found in Burma has been a source of conflict throughout Burma’s history. Decades of hostility between successive military regimes and the ethnic minority community have caused immense suffering and devastation for Burma and its people. Although a series of ceasefires between the junta and armed ethnic opposition groups since the late 1980s have brought relief to some areas, they offer no real solutions. Meanwhile, under the justification of preserving a unified state, the SPDC has maintained a military presence in the ethnic areas and frequently initiates military offensives, often in contravention of ceasefire agreements. Sustained hostilities in the ethnic areas have served to perpetuate severe human rights abuses and a deepening humanitarian crisis. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


Before the British annexed the territory of Burma as a province of British India, separate kingdoms and local tribal leaders ruled the inhabitants of present day Burma. The kingdoms in the central Irrawaddy plains made successive attempts to push the boundaries of their territories further into the hills. The geography of the land however served to isolate those in the hills from those in the plains. Before Burma achieved independence in 1948, there was no political integration of the ethnic territories with the Burman territories. The non-Burman indigenous nationalities in Burma were politically autonomous before and during the time of British colonial occupation.


Colonial rule served to amplify distinctions between the Burman-occupied areas and the territory of other ethnic nationalities. Under a dual system of governance, the British administered the predominantly Burman area of “Ministerial Burma” separately from the other ethnic areas called the “Frontier Areas.” In Ministerial Burma, the monarchy of Burma was deposed and a form of parliamentary home rule was introduced. For the most part, the frontier areas were left under the local authority of traditional headmen and chiefs. The non-Burman ethnic groups, principally the Chin, Kachin and Karen, were preferred for recruitment into the colonial army. The British also heavily exploited the natural resources of the ethnic minority areas while providing little investment in return. By dividing the country, the British system not only created disunion and resentments that carry on until this day, but also it ultimately set the peoples of Burma on different paths of political and economic development. (Source: Martin Smith, Burma (Myanmar): The Time for Change, Minority Rights Group International, May 2002).


In 1948 Burma became an independent state. Preservation of ethnic identity and rights was prioritized in the formulation of state structures for the newly independent Burma. As stated by Gen. Aung San, the leader of the independence movement: “In my opinion, it will not be feasible to set up a unitary state. We must set up a Union with properly regulated provisions to safeguard the rights of the national minorities.” Therefore, independent Burma was created on the understanding that it would be a federal union. The rights of those in the ethnic areas were first recognized in the January 1947 agreement between Gen. Aung San and the British Prime Minister Attlee as well as in the Panglong Agreement signed by independence and ethnic leaders on 12 February 1947.


The Panglong Agreement between Gen. Aung San and Chin, Kachin and Shan leaders was the first attempt to address the challenge of creating a sense and structure of national unity in the new Union from peoples that had formerly been administered separately, while still respecting their rights to ethnic autonomy. As noted by respected Shan resistance member and scholar Dr. Chao Tzang Yawngwe, “The Panglong Accord and its principles or the Panglong spirit is at the very heart of our past, present, and future. The Panglong vision, shared by all non-Burman leaders and by Gen. Aung San, was to establish a democratic, federal Union, based on federalism, the equality of states, and their self-determination. In the final agreement of 12 February 1947, ‘full autonomy in internal administration’ (Article 5) and the enjoyment of democratic ‘rights and privileges’ (Article 7) were guaranteed for the Frontier Areas, and hence some ethnic minority peoples. No one state was envisioned as being the mother-state (Pyi-Ma), superior to or above other states. The Panglong spirit is critical to future attempts at building the nation because it provides a solid and historical basis for democracy, peace, and real people’s power.” (Source: “An Evening with Dr Chao Tzang Yawngwe,” Kaowao News, 16-20 February 2002).


Despite the spirit of the Panglong agreement, the subsequently enacted constitution failed to sufficiently protect the interests of the ethnic minority groups. While the 1948 constitution gave each recognized ethnic group representation in a Chamber of Nationalities at the national level, only four areas, Karen, Karenni, Shan and Kachin States, were specifically recognized. The constitution also granted the Shan and Karenni the right to separate from the Union after 10 years. For other groups, however, territory was not provided for in the constitution causing many to feel that it did not sufficiently represent and protect the rights of all the ethnic groups. What rights that were guaranteed to ethnic minority groups in the 1948 constitution, were stripped in the 1974 constitution enacted under Gen. Ne Win. Under the 1974 constitution, all ethnic groups were denied autonomous rights.


Currently, Burma is administratively divided into seven states and seven divisions, each of which is centrally controlled by the SPDC. Under the SPDC, there is no respect for minority languages, cultures, or political aspirations. Rather the regime has long viewed the ethnic minority population as a direct threat to a centrally controlled Burma. The rich cultural diversity of the many communities of Burma has acted as an impediment to the regime’s “Burmanization” campaign to create a homogenous country, with one language, one religion and one rule. Therefore, the regime has actively attempted to marginalize the influence of the ethnic minority population in every aspect of society through militarization, intimidation tactics, and human rights violations. In spite of this reality, Burma still claims to be a "union", and the anniversary of the Panglong Agreement has continued to be celebrated every year since 1962 as “Union Day.” (Source: Martin Smith, Burma (Myanmar): The Time for Change, Minority Rights Group International, May 2002).


Effectively stripped of their autonomy and struggling under the oppressive policies of the military regime, the ethnic minority groups have taken varying tacks to preserve their political and cultural identities over the years. Numerous ethnic opposition armies have formed to resist the military forces. While some armed resistance groups have submitted to unfavorable ceasefire pacts with the junta, others continue to fight the regime. Although there were early threats of secession by some ethnic minority groups, the principles of the Panglong Agreement and a federal Burma have been repeatedly reaffirmed over time. For example, in 1997, 17 ethnic groups signed on to the Mae Tha Raw Hta Agreement to demonstrate support for a federal Burma. The sentiments of the Panglong Agreement were reasserted with the New Panglong Initiative in 2002. Furthermore, ethnic representatives to the junta-sponsored National Convention have repeatedly submitted proposals for a federal union. (Source: Burma Briefing: Issues and Concerns, Volume 1, Altsean, November 2004). In 2005, the issue of secession was called into question when a little known Shan group in exile declared the formation of an independent Shan State Federal Government. Demonstrating continued support for a federal Burma, the declaration was generally not well received among the ethnic minority community. (Sources: “Shan 'Government': We're Genuine Stuff,” SHAN, 27 April 2005; “Self-Declared ‘Shan Government’ Seeks Recognition,” DPA, 28 April 2005; “Hundreds Fleeing From Hot Spot Township, SHAN, 20 May 2005; “Hard to Be Shan These Days,” SHAN, 20 June 2005).

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8.2 Ethnic Politics, Armed Resistance, and Ceasefire Agreements


Following Burma’s independence, several armed resistance groups formed in the ethnic minority areas to defend their interests and rights. When the military regime took control over the country, these groups became a focal point of the opposition movement. Recognizing the threat to centralized military rule, the regime targeted these groups by employing various techniques to stifle their opposition, including increasing military presence in the ethnic minority territories, perpetrating a range of human rights abuses against ethnic minority villagers, and launching unprovoked attacks against ethnic fighters.


In 1989, under Gen. Khin Nyunt’s direction, the SPDC pushed armed resistance groups into skewed ceasefire pacts. Between 1989 and 1995, 14 armed groups signed pacts with the regime. As of 2005, there were 17 groups operating under ceasefire status. (See Appendix III: Ceasefire Status of Ethnic Opposition Groups). The heavily one-sided agreements have generally allowed groups to retain their weapons and control over specified territory. In return, the ceasefire groups have been required to: give military controlled companies preference for all business transactions, cease targeting SPDC forces, refrain from traveling outside their respective territories without advanced permission from the SPDC, withdraw from multilateral resistance organizations, and abstain from all contact with armed groups still fighting the regime. Meanwhile, the agreements did nothing to protect the rights of the ethnic minority population and junta-perpetrated abuses have continued despite the ceasefire pacts.


Arakan State


During the early part of 2005, military aggression and conflicts continued between SPDC troops and the Arakan Liberation Army (ALA). In connection with such attacks, SPDC soldiers perpetrated a range of abuses against villagers in Arakan State. Villagers and headmen were arbitrarily accused of having contact with ALA fighters and were reportedly tortured following clashes with the ALA. (Source: “Armed Clash Occurs Between Arakan Liberation Army and SPDC,” Narinjara News, 12 August 2005; “Burmese Army Camped Inside Village Due to Fear of Attack,” Narinjara News, 27 August 2005). Meanwhile, increased human rights abuses against villagers in Arakan State prompted the Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) to issue a press release on 22 September urging intervention by the United Nations and members of the international community, particularly ASEAN countries (source: "Humanity Gone Amok in Arakan, Burma,” Kaladan News, 22 September 2005).


Chin State


Chin State is located in the western hills of Burma with a population of about 500,000. Approximately 90 percent of the Chin people are Christian, marking them for particularly oppressive religious motivated abuses by the regime. During the countrywide protests of 1988, the Chin National Front (CNF) formed to fight for democracy in Burma and the rights of the Chin community. Prior to the 1988 uprising, only one military battalion occupied Chin State. As of 2005, as many as 10 battalions with about 5,000 soldiers were stationed in the area. Meanwhile villagers in Chin State have continued to suffer egregious human rights violations at the hands of SPDC soldiers. (For more information see Section 8.4 SPDC Campaign of Abuse against Ethnic Minority Villagers). Amid continuing abuses against members of the Chin community, the CNF ambushed soldiers from SPDC IB 266 in Htantalan Township on 10 March, killing 2 SPDC officials. (Source: “Chin Fighters Killed Two Burmese Soldiers Near India,” DVB, 17 March 2005).


Kachin State


Kachin State hosts three separate ceasefire groups, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the New Democratic Army – Kachin (NDA-K), and the Kachin Democratic Army (KDA). The KIO, at one time, was one of the most powerful armed resistance groups in Burma. However since submitting to a 1994 ceasefire pact with the regime, their strength and influence has diminished. Meanwhile the NDA-K and the KDA boast no more than a few hundred soldiers. Both the NDA-K and KDA split from the KIO in the early 1990’s. Continued friction within the Kachin resistance movement has resulted in several subsequent organizational splits and leadership struggles. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)


The KIO remains the most significant of the Kachin resistance groups. Hoping to open channels of communication with the regime and bring an end to military aggression, the KIO agreed to a ceasefire pact with the regime in 1994. Although the ceasefire agreement allowed the KIO to maintain administrative authority over some territory, it weakened the strength of the Kachin resistance movement. Subsequent internal disputes within the KIO further weakened the organization as members broke away to form new splinter groups. The regime has taken advantage of the discord by provoking factional splits and conflict among the Kachin groups. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003). 


In 2005, tension in Kachin State escalated after followers of Col. Lasang Awngwa broke away from the KIO and formed a new group. While the KIO indicated a willingness to reconcile with the group, they refused to recognize their independence. On 1 August, 37 members of the splinter group accepted the offer of reconciliation and rejoined the KIO. Meanwhile, hoping to maintain factional splits amongst the Kachin, the SPDC met with Col. Lasang Awngwa on 6 August and offered security and territory to the splinter group in return for their pledge to remain unaffiliated with other armed resistance groups. (Sources: “Unity Problems Among Kachin Groups and Burma Junta,” DVB, 30 March 2005; “Kachins Reunite: KIO Welcomes Back 37 Defectors in Northern Burma,” DVB, 2 August 2005; “Junta Trying for a Split in Unified KSC,” Mizzima, 13 August 2005). On 15 November 2005, it was reported that a portion of Col. Lasang Awngwa’s group had decided to accept the junta’s proposal while other members of the splinter group rejected the offer causing further divisions in the group. Two thirds of the group planned to relocate to Ja Htu Pa, while about 300 members decided to remain behind. (Source: “Further Divisions in Kachin State,” Irrawaddy, 15 November 2005).


New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K)


On 14 September 2005, Layawk Zelum, the NDA-K Secretary, led an internal coup to overthrow Chairman Zahkung Ting Ying accusing the chairman of corruption. In the days that followed, SPDC troops took up positions near the NDA-K HQs causing concern for local residents who feared conflict was imminent. (Sources: “Coup in Kachin Armed Group National Democratic Army,” Mizzima, 15 September 2005; “No More Peace for Peace Groups,” SHAN, 23 September 2005). On 26 September 2005, the HQs were peacefully recaptured with the assistance of Col. Lasang Awngwa’s splinter group. Three leaders of the coup were arrested by the restored NDA-K and turned over on 3 October to the SPDC. Layawk Zelum, however, remained at large. Following the arrests, about 30 followers of Layawk Zelum surrendered their arms to the SPDC. (Source: “NDA-K Coup Leaders Handed Over to Military,” Mizzima, 4 October 2005; “30 Kachin NDA-K Members Defect to Burma Army,” DVB, 9 October 2005).


Karen State


With an estimated population of between 3 and 4 million, the Karen represent the second largest ethnic minority group in Burma. They were also one of the first groups to organize an armed resistance group. With the uncertainty of ethnic minority rights attenuated with independence in Burma, the Karen organized a resistance army as early as 1947 to defend their interests and territory. As such, the Karen opposition movement is the longest-running challenge to military rule in Burma. Karen resistance continues through several armed groups, including the KNU and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).


Karen National Union (KNU)


The KNU and their armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) formed shortly after gaining independence. For decades, the KNU functioned as an administrative government over the Karen territory and the KNLA boasted an army of several thousand soldiers. In general, the KNU enjoys widespread support among the Karen populace. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


Throughout the decades, the KNU forces have engaged in high level skirmishes with the regime and its allies, despite continuous attempts to engage in ceasefire agreements. Since late 2003, the KNU has been operating under a verbal ceasefire agreement with the SPDC. Negotiations towards a formal ceasefire agreement continued in early 2004 but stalled when Gen. Khin Nyunt was ousted from the position of prime minister. Discussions did not resume until 13 March 2005 when a 13 member KNU delegation led by Col Htoo Htoo Lay and David Htaw met with leaders of the Southeastern Military Command in Moulmein, Mon State. During these discussions the SPDC proposed four conditions: (1) the KNU would choose four regions from selected regions; (2) KNU troops would be allowed to operate only in those regions; (3) travel beyond those regions would require the relinquishment of weapons and ammo to SPDC soldiers; and (4) armed SPDC troops must be allowed to inspect KNU territories. Furthermore, the regime indicated they would not submit to a formal signed agreement. (Sources: “Myanmar Rebels Warn Junta: Resume Peace Talks or Fight,” AFP, 31 January 2005; “Myanmar Confirms Peace Talks with KNU Underway,” Xinhua, 16 March 2005; “KNU Racking Their Brains Over Burma Junta “Proposals,” While Attacks Continue,” DVB, 25 May 2005; “Regime ‘Willing to Reach New Ceasefire Pact with KNU,’” Irrawaddy, 17 March 2005).


Rejecting this highly unfavorable arrangement, the KNU sought additional discussions with the SPDC. Talks were scheduled for the end of August but were postponed following continued attacks by the SPDC. By the end of the year, the negotiations remained at a standstill despite repeated requests by the KNU to renew discussions. On 26 October, the KNU blamed the lack of progress on the SPDC's unwillingness to cooperate. David Htaw reported, “We have kept our door open but this is a matter for two sides and if one side does not have the desire, I must say the talks are almost over.” (Source: “Prospect of Peace Talks between KNU and Burma Junta Slim,” DVB, 26 October 2005).


While the prospects for productive ceasefire discussions between the KNU and the SPDC dwindled, military offensives continued despite the informal ceasefire agreement. On 11 January 2005, soldiers from SPDC IB 250 launched an unprovoked attack on Lawse village near the Thai-Burma border after finding KNU soldiers staying in the village. Villagers caught in the attack suffered abuse at the hands of SPDC soldiers. Meanwhile hundreds of villagers fled to Thailand to escape the heavy fighting. (Source: “Clash between KNU and Burmese Troops,” DVB, 11 January 2005).


To pressure the KNU into surrendering their arms, the SPDC particularly focused its military might on the Toungoo, Tenesserim and Nyaunglebin regions of Karen State.  Troops have been located in this area since 8 November 2004. (Source: “Burma SPDC Doesn’t Respect Ceasefire Agreement, Says KNU,” DVB, 11 December 2004). Fighting continued throughout the year amid increased human rights abuses on villagers and increasingly restrictive policies hindering all forms of movement in the area, ultimately forming a blockade (sources: “1,300 IDPs Flee the BA in Nyaunglebin District Karen State, Burma,” FBR, 17 March 2005; “KNU Racking Their Brains Over Burma Junta “Proposals,” While Attacks Continue,” DVB, 25 March 2005). (For more information see Section 8.4 SPDC Campaigns of Abuse Against Ethnic Minority Villagers). On 13 May 2005, 2,000 additional SPDC troops were deployed to Toungoo Township to supplement the 10 battalions that had been sent earlier to the Toungoo and Nyaunglebin regions (source: “Burma Army Sends 10 Battalions for Operation in Eastern Toungoo and Nyaunglebin Districts, Karen State,” FBR, 16 May 2005). In October, as the blockades intensified, the regime established a new military camp in Toungoo Township (source: “New Road Blocks Prevent Resistance,” FBR, 12 October 2005).


In addition to using force to pressure the KNU towards surrendering their arms, the SPDC resorted to intimidation tactics. In September 2005, the regime attempted to feign weakness in KNU solidarity by luring ex-KNU members residing in Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province into “surrendering” by providing financial incentives (source: “Burma Junta Lures Ex-KNU Members to Surrender,” DVB, 8 September 2005).


Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA)


The Democratic Karen Buddhist Organization (DKBO) and its armed branch, the DKBA formed in December 1994 after 400 Buddhist KNU soldiers broke away from the KNU following accusations of discrimination by the Christian KNU commanders. Shortly thereafter, the newly formed group allied itself with the SPDC. Under the terms of a ceasefire pact, in return for material support and territorial control, the DKBA agreed to join arms with the military regime to fight against the KNU. The DKBA HQs are located in Pa'an District with bases located in both Karen and Mon States. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


Since separating from the KNLA and pledging their allegiance to the SPDC, the DKBA has launched sustained offensives against the KNU. In January 1995, in collusion with SPDC troops, the DKBA attacked the KNU HQs in Manerplaw. Between 1995 and 1998, the DKBA launched 12 major attacks on KNU-controlled refugee camps located in Thailand, killing more than 20 people. Attacks continued despite the informal KNU-SPDC ceasefire agreement and subsequent ceasefire talks between the KNU and SPDC. In addition to engaging in military offensives, the DKBA has perpetrated a range of human rights abuses against Karen villagers. (For more information see Section 8.5 Abuse of Ethnic Minorities by Ceasefire Groups). Meanwhile, the DKBA has profited from their alignment with the SPDC. The regime has supported cross-border business ventures of the DKBA, including trade in timber and narcotics (source: A Failing Grade, Altsean, November 2004).


Relations between the SPDC and DKBA began to falter beginning in November 2004 as the SPDC increased pressure on the DKBA to surrender their arms. Prior to 12 November 2004 discussions on the conditions of their ceasefire agreement, the SPDC ordered the DKBA to provide detailed information on their members and weaponry. After increasing the presence of SPDC troops in Three Pagodas Pass area, where DKBA bases are located, the SPDC urged the DKBA to disarm in early May 2005. In response, the DKBA threatened to merge with the KNU forces. (Sources: “DKBA: Never Surrender to SPDC,” Kaowao News, 14 November 2004; “Burma Army Told to Disarm DKBA Troops,” Irrawaddy, 25 November 2004; “Surrender or Fight: DKBA Faces Dilemma,” Kaowao News, 16 May 2005 “More ceasefire groups expected to break with Rangoon,” Irrawaddy, 24 May 2005).


Karenni State


Despite its low population and relatively small territory, several separate armed resistance groups developed in Karenni State, including the Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF) and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), along with several smaller factions. Two of the larger groups signed ceasefire pacts during the early 1990’s during Gen. Khin Nyunt's ceasefire campaign. The KNPLF continued to fight the regime until 1994 when they too were forced into a ceasefire pact. As of 2005, the KNPP was the only armed resistance group fighting the regime in Karenni State, despite ongoing ceasefire discussions.


Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP)


The KNPP formed in 1957 during the early days of independence in Burma. Since its formation, the KNPP has suffered several splits in its membership. In 1978, a faction broke away to form the KNPLF after disagreements over cooperation with the Communist Party of Burma (CPB). Smaller groups broke away from the KNPP in 1995, 1999 and late 2002, respectively. These splinter groups subsequently signed ceasefire agreements with the junta. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


In 1994, under sustained pressure by the regime and military offensives in Karenni State, the KNPP entered ceasefire discussions. On 21 March 1995, the KNPP signed onto an agreement with the junta. This agreement however only lasted three months. On 28 June 1995, the KNPP repudiated the agreement after the regime violated its terms by deploying additional troops to Karenni State and continuing to take villagers for use as porters. Hostilities between Karenni fighters and the regime resumed. Subsequent ceasefire discussions have failed to produce any agreement. (Source: Unwanted and Unprotected: Burmese Refugees in Thailand, HRW, September 1998).


The most recent rounds of ceasefire discussions deteriorated when the SPDC refused to consider any amendments to the terms agreed to in the 1995 ceasefire pact. On 21 August 2005, the SPDC sent a message to the KNPP offering to renew the same “arms for peace” deal offered in 1995. Hoping for more cooperation from the SPDC, KNPP Gen. Sec. Raymond Htoo said, “[W]e don’t call it peace by just handing over weapons to the SPDC.” Amid ongoing hostilities, the SPDC continued to pressure the KNPP to reinstate the 1995 ceasefire pact. In December, Suthero Pamaung, a Karenni Catholic pastor from Loikaw, and representatives from KNPLF offered to arbitrate future peace talks. However, the KNPP remained hesitant to agree to another round of negotiations where the 1995 ceasefire pact are the only terms offered. (Sources: “Karenni Ceasefire Talks Stall,” Irrawaddy, 4 April 2004;Peace Broker Contacts Burma's KNPP for "Arms for Peace" Deal,” Mizzima, 22 August 2005; “Burma Junta Offers ‘Peace’ to KNPP Through Go-Between,” DVB, 22 August 2005 “Karenni Groups Offer to Mediate New KNPP Cease-fire,” Mizzima, 14 December 2005). 


Unable to reach a ceasefire agreement, clashes between the SPDC and KNPP continued throughout 2005. During December 2004 and throughout January, the SPDC and SPDC supported troops bombarded the KNPP's base at Nyamu Hill, located near the Thailand border, with artillery shells. After several mortar shells landed in Thai territory, Thailand met with SPDC officials to call for an end to the attack. (Sources: “Burmese Military Reportedly Attack Karenni Base,” BBC Monitor, 7 January 2005; “Burmese Troops Intensify Attacks on Karenni Base,” DVB, 17 January 2005; “Burmese Army Targets Karennis,” Irrawaddy, 24 January 2005; “Myanmar Attacks Rebel Base Near Thai Border: Thai Army Official,” AFP, 24 January 2005). The attacks not only displaced hundreds of Karenni villagers but the incursions into Thai territory also raised concern among Karenni refugees living in camps along the border (sources: “Clash Between Burma Army and Karenni Fighters,” DVB, 19 December 2004; “Burmese Military Reportedly Attack Karenni Base,” BBC Monitor, 7 January 2005).


Attacks on Karenni forces on 15 February 2005 led to accusations that SPDC forces were using chemical weapons. KNPP soldiers reported a cloud of yellow smoke accompanied by a pungent odor during bombings by the SPDC. Soldiers within the vicinity of the fumes reported suffering from blisters, lung irritation, diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. (Sources: “Number of Mustard Gas Victims Increase in Karenni Camp,” Mizzima, 12 May 2005; “Burmese Army Deserters Describe Transporting Chemical Artillery Shells,” RFA, 24 May 2005). Some soldiers continued to suffer symptoms up to eight months after the attack. Lending further credence to the likelihood that chemical warfare had been deployed against the Karenni fighters, a 15-year-old who was forced to porter supplies for SPDC troops reported seeing soldiers carrying boxes while wearing gloves and masks. He was told that the boxes contained chemicals that would be dangerous if inhaled. (Source: Visit to the Thai-Burmese Border, CSW, 19 October - 4 November 2005).


Mon State


There are nearly two million people in Mon State. The resistance movement started shortly after independence in 1948. Mon resistance has since been represented by the NMSP and its armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), which formed in 1958. In June 1995, the NMSP signed a ceasefire pact with the regime. Under the terms of the agreement, the NMSP was given territory and allowed to retain their arms in selected areas of Mon State. Furthermore, the regime agreed to provide economic assistance and concessions on certain business ventures, such as logging and fishing rights. However, the regime increased restrictions on the NMSP after the party demonstrated support for the Mae Tha Raw Hta Agreement in 1997. (Source: Six-Month Report, TBBC, July-December 2004).


In retaliation against the NMSP for seeking trilateral dialogue and proposing a federal system in Burma amid the ongoing National Convention, the SPDC has tightened its restrictions against the NMSP. Beginning in July 2005, the SPDC cut off NMSP’s economic support (source: “Burmese Junta Cuts Support for NMSP,” Irrawaddy, 9 September 2005). In September, the SPDC only partially resumed its payments, providing only 1/10 of its promised payments. In addition, the SPDC banned NMSP operations in the logging, car importing and furniture exporting industries. (Source: “Burma Junta Resumes Support for Mon Ceasefire Group,” DVB, 12 September 2005). The NMSP also reported heightened monitoring and travel restrictions on its members starting in September. During the last week of September, the SPDC ordered the village headmen in Kyaikmayaw to draft a list of NMSP members in their villages and to monitor their movements. NMSP members are routinely interrogated at numerous SPDC checkpoints. The SPDC also intensified their surveillance over NMSP activities. (Sources: “Mon Urge NMSP Not to Give Up Arms,” Kaowao News, 1 October 2005; “Cars for a Total Surrender,” Kaowao News, 25 September 2005; “Investigation of New Mon State Party Could Threaten Ceasefire,” Irrawaddy, 4 October 2005). Despite growing frustration with the SPDC’s tactics, the NMSP has refused to surrender its arms (source: “Ceasefire Groups Defiant,” Irrawaddy, 14 October 2005).


Mon Splinter Groups


Following increased threats to SPDC forces by Mon splinter groups, in late December, the SPDC offered a 10 million kyat award for information leading to the arrest of armed opposition leaders, Nai Bin, Nai Hloin, Nai Chan Dein and Nai Sook Gloing. In connection with this campaign, villagers in Northern Yebyu Township were ordered to purchase three posters of the wanted men at a cost of 700 kyat each. (Sources: “Wanted: 10 Million for the Capture of Guerrilla Leader,” Kaowao News,” 23 December 2004; “Wanted Rebel Posters on Sale,” Kaowao News, 8 January 2005). Despite these efforts, Nai Hloin reportedly appeared in Thailand seeking refugee status after being wounded in a conflict with the SPDC. It was also reported that Nai Bai has similarly taken refuge in Thailand. (Source: “Mon Guerrilla Leaders Seek Safe Haven,” Kaowao News, 27 February 2005). Meanwhile, 50 troops led by Nai Sook Gloing continued to operate in southern Ye and in northern Yebyu Townships throughout the year.


Shan State


Shan State is the largest ethnic minority state in Burma, and one of the most ethnically diverse. When independence from the British was accorded to Burma in 1947, the first constitution granted the Shan the right to secede from the Union of Burma after 10 years. The possibility of future sovereign rule, however, evaporated when the military regime usurped power over the country. To oppose oppression and control by the regime, several political and armed resistance groups developed in Shan State. As the dominant minority ethnic group in Burma and strong opponents of the regime, the SPDC has focused attention on the Shan groups and maintained a consistent military presence in Shan State.


In 2005, the Shan were particularly targeted by the SPDC. Amid the ongoing National Convention proceedings, the SPDC stifled opposition to their predetermined agenda by cracking down on Shan leaders. In early February 2005, within days of the first 2005 session of the National Convention, military authorities arrested several Shan political leaders and activists who had participated in a meeting held in Taunggyi Township during Shan State Day on 7 February 2005. The regime accused the group of creating an organization, the Shan State Joint Action Committee, without permission. (Source: “Ten Shan Activists Arrested in Myanmar for Conspiracy: Minister,” AFP, 15 March 2005). Those arrested represented various Shan organizations, including Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), SSA, Shan State Peace Council (SSPC), New Generation Shan State (NG-SS), and United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD). Several of these groups had vocalized opposition to the 2004 National Convention sessions. The SNLD had boycotted the proceedings. Meanwhile the SSA-N and the SSNA were signatories to a statement demanding changes to the principles and objectives of the Convention. Similarly, in December 2004, the New Generation (Shan State) called for the formation of an Advisory Council and criticized military rule. (Source: Interim Report Card: July 2004- February 2005, Altsean, March 2005).


All but 11 of the leaders arrested in February were released by March 2005. U Shwe Ohn, the founder of the Shan State Peoples' Freedom League, which is no longer a registered organization, was placed under house arrest under Article 10(b) of the 1975 State Protection Act. The other ten leaders, including Hkun Htun Oo and Gen Hso Ten, Chairmen of the SNLD and SSPC respectively, were imprisoned in Insein Prison. (Source: “Ten Shan Activists Arrested in Myanmar for Conspiracy: Minister,” AFP, 15 March 2005). Their trials commenced on 1 March 2005 in closed-door hearings inside Insein Prison with little procedural protections. None of the detainees were allowed to receive family visits or consult legal counsel. A team of NLD lawyers hired by family members of the detained leaders were denied entrance to Insein Prison. The lawyers were subsequently subject to intimidation and threats by the SPDC. (Sources: “Burma Opposition Radio Says 10 Detained Shan Leaders ‘Secretly’ Tried in Jail,” DVB, 30 April 2005; “Ten Shan Activists Arrested in Myanmar for Conspiracy: Minister,” AFP, 10 March 2005; “Burma Junta Agents Intimidating NLD Legal Advisors,” DVB, 17 March 2005).


The leaders were charged with high treason for conspiring against the State, “trying to disrupt peace and stability of the country by attempting to create unrest," as well as violating the Printers and Publishers Act, creating an illegal organization and using illegal currency (source: “Ten Shan Activists Arrested in Myanmar for Conspiracy: Minister,” AFP, 15 March 2005). On 3 November 2005, the Special Court in Insein Prison sentenced the 10 leaders to unduly long prison terms, causing widespread outrage throughout the ethnic groups and the international community. U Hkun Htun Oo was sentenced to 93 years imprisonment, Gen. Hso Ten to 106 years imprisonment and Sai Nyunt Lwin to 75 years imprisonment while the others received sentences of 70 years imprisonment. (Sources: “Shan Leaders Sentenced in Rangoon Insein Jail,” DVB, 4 November 2005; “Shan Leaders Sentenced,” Irrawaddy, 8 November 2005). In protest of the junta’s actions, 14 Shan groups, five other ethnic minority groups, and several political parties issued statements demanding the immediate release of the Shan leaders. (Sources: “Exiled Shans Demand Release of Leaders,” SHAN, 17 February 2005; “NMSP: More Dialogue With The Junta,” Kaowao News, 28 February 2005; “PDC News Commentary,” NCUB, February 2005).


Subsequent arrests of Shan political leaders occurred throughout the year that were believed to be attempts to intimidate Shan opposition and pressure Shan armed resistance groups towards disarmament. On 3 August 2005, agents arrested Sao Oo Kya, age 65 and cousin of SNLD Chairman Khun Tun Oo under the accusation of attending a New Generation Shan State meeting as well as Shan State day activities. On 2 October 2005, Sao Oo Kya was reportedly sentenced to 13 years in prison under Section 26(a) of the Hotels and Tourism Act as well as for defaming the state under Section 124(a). (Source: “Burmese Authorities Detain Shan Leader for Defamation,” DVB, 2 October 2005). On 3 December 2005, Burmese military authorities arrested eight Shan leaders and organizers of the Shan State Literature and Culture Committee. Those arrested included Dr. Sai Maw Kham, chairman of the Shan State Literature and Culture Committe, Sia Hpawn Hseng Moeng, a well-known singer, and Sai Kyaw Ohn "Namkham", an organizer. The arrests occurred just after Shan New Year day celebrations, which were held on 1 December. The exact reasons for the arrests were unknown. (Sources: “Shan Leaders Arrested for Celebration National New Year,” DVB, 8 December 2005; “Crackdowns Follow Shan New Year,” SHAN, 7 December 2005). (For more information see Chapter 3 Arbitrary Detention and Forced or Involuntary Disappearances).


Shan State Army-South (SSA-S)


The SSA-S formed in 1996 after breaking away from the Mong Thai Army (MTA), a Shan organization notorious for their involvement in the drug industry. On 7 January 1996, the MTA agreed to surrender to the regime. Thousands of MTA soldiers, however, refused to submit to the surrender and formed breakaway organizations. The SSA-S is one group that rose from the surrender of the MTA. Over the years, the SSA-S has gained recognition as a legitimate Shan nationalist force, in contrast to the drug-oriented operations of its predecessor. Since its formation, the SSA-S has engaged the regime in armed aggression. Meanwhile, the regime has refused to entertain ceasefire discussions under the premise that, as a former entity of the MTA, the only acceptable arrangement is a complete surrender of arms as agreed to by the MTA. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


SPDC and SPDC allies continued to clash with the SSA-S throughout 2005 as Rangoon increased pressure on the SSA-S towards disarmament. Since mid-March, the UWSA led by Wei Hsuehkang and supported by SPDC troops engaged in a series of sustained offensives against Col. Yawdserks’s SSA-S. The UWSA besieged the SSA’s base at Loi Lam on 12 March 2005. The next day, approximately 200 Wa soldiers attacked the SSA Kor Kha hill base in Khang Pla village near the Thai border. Hostilities between the SSA and the SPDC allied forces continued throughout March. (Sources: “Shan, Wa Dance to Junta Tune,” SHAN, 14 March 2005; “Wa Troops Attack SSA Position, Driven Back,” BP, 15 March 2005; “Shan Army Fights on Two Fronts,” SHAN, 23 March 2005). With the support of SPDC reinforcements, the UWSA unsuccessfully organized an offensive against the SSA-S’s base in Loi Taileng and Ban Mai Lan (sources: “Stray Shells Land on Thai Soil,” BP, 13 April 2005; “SSA: War With Wa Inevitable,” SHAN, 11 April 2005). The conflicts resulted in the death of hundreds of fighters. By the end of April, UWSA suffered 700 casualties and an increasing number of defections. The SSA-S meanwhile reported only 73 deaths (sources: “Wa Bucking Up for New Showdown,” SHAN, 9 May 2005; “Border Fighting/Shan Army Claims Upper Hand: Wa Troops Starving, Defecting,” BP, 23 April 2005). Despite the rising death toll, SPDC aligned forces continued attacks against the SSA-S.


Following deleterious attacks by the SPDC against the SSNA, SSNA fighters joined SSA-S on 21 May 2005, effectively terminating their 1995 ceasefire agreement (sources: "Two Ethnic Rebel Groups Announce Merger to Fight Junta," AP, 23 May 2005; “Anxieties for Burmese People as Shan Fighters Join Forces,” DVB, 23 May 2005). Despite the reinforcements, on 24 July 2005, 119 soldiers of the SSA, including the SSNA Sixth Brigade, surrendered to the junta (sources: "Wa Bucking Up for New Showdown,” SHAN, 9 May 2005; “More Wa on Their Way,” SHAN, 11 May 2005; “Burma Army Seeks to Block Rebel Movements,” SHAN, 21 July 2005; “Members of Two Shan Groups Disarm,” Irrawaddy, 25 July 2005). Meanwhile, attacks against the SSA-S continued. On 19 July 2005, the SPDC bombarded a SSA outpost located north of Loi Taileng with mortar fire. Three more major clashes between the SPDC and the SSA were reported in September. (Sources: “Army Shelling Raises False Alarm,” SHAN, 1 August 2005; “Shan Army Reports on Clashes,” SHAN, 12 October 2005) The ongoing hostilities have resulted in hundreds of casualties as well as the displacement of thousands of Shan villagers (sources: “Burma Border Fighting Hits New Pitch,” Irrawaddy, 27 April 2005; “Wa Bucking Up for New Showdown,” SHAN, 9 May 2005; “Border Fighting/Shan Army Claims Upper Hand: Wa Troops Starving, Defecting,” BP, 23 April 2005).


Shan State National Army (SSNA)


SSNA resistance crumpled in 2005 after persistent pressure by the SPDC to force their surrender. In early April, increased pressure led to the surrender of the 11th Brigade (source: “One Ceasefire Commander Has Had Enough of It,” SHAN, 8 April 2005). Weakened by this loss, 1,000 SSNA troops led by Col. Sai Yai fled from their Loikhurh base on 9 April 2005 (source: “Junta Plays Good Cop-Bad Cop,” SHAN, 22 April 2005). In early May, SSNA troops made efforts to consolidate their forces. However raids against SSNA property by the SPDC led to the surrender of the 19th Brigade. (Sources: “Junta: From Forced Labor to Forced Submission,” SHAN, 6 May 2005; “The Next One to Go,” SHAN, 3 May 2005). On 21 May 2005, the SSNA took up arms and merged their forces with the SSA-S to combat the regime from a unified front. In doing so, the SSNA effectively terminated their 1995 ceasefire agreement with the junta. (Sources: “Two Ethnic Rebel Groups Announce Merger to Fight Junta,” AP, 23 May 2005; “Anxieties for Burmese People as Shan Fighters Join Forces,” DVB, 23 May 2005).


Shan State Army- North (SSA-N)


Encouraged by their success in pressuring brigades of the SSNA to surrender, the SPDC turned their attention to the SSA-N. On 11 April, the SPDC met with Comdr. Maj. Gen. Loimao of the SSA-N to secure a ceasefire pact (source: “Tension Mounts Between Shan and Rangoon,” Irrawaddy, 12 April 2005). Refusal to submit to an agreement with the junta resulted in increased raids and arrests of SSA-N officials (sources: “Shan “Ceasefire” Members Arrested by Burmese Soldiers,” DVB, 10 May 2005; “Junta: From Forced Labor to Forced Submission,” SHAN, 6 May 2005). On 13 September, the Third Brigade withdrew from their controlled areas following an order issued by the SPDC on 24 August (sources: “SSA-N Warn: No Surrender to Burma Junta,” DVB, 13 September 2005; “Ceasefire Group Gets Marching Orders,” SHAN, 30 August 2005). Yet, the SSA-N assured that they had not surrendered and indicated that under further pressure by the SPDC, the SSA-N would seriously consider resuming armed conflict. Despite such threats, on 20 September the SPDC demanded a complete inventory of the SSA-N troops and equipment, including a list of each leader’s household. (Source: “The Junta Knows Its Stuff,” SHAN, 25 September 2005).


Wa Territory


The Wa region is located in Northern Shan State along the China-Burma border. Due to its isolated location, the Wa are largely influenced by the Chinese. Administrative structures in the Wa area are disorganized and feudal, creating essentially a vacuum of social services. Many villages lack basic health care services, schools, and transportation. Meanwhile, the Wa maintain relatively cordial relations with the regime and are the beneficiaries of this relationship. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003).


United Wa State Army (UWSA)


The UWSA is a relatively large group that formed following the collapse of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1989. After the collapse, the UWSA proceeded to take over the CPB HQs in Phangsang, Shan State. On 5 September 1989, the UWSA agreed to a ceasefire and subsequently became aligned with the regime. With several thousands of soldiers and extensive territory under its control, the UWSA is also one of the most powerful armed groups in Burma. This power stems primarily from being a major ally of the regime. In return for attacking armed resistance groups and supporting SPDC led military operations, the UWSA receives substantial material benefits. In addition, the SPDC has overlooked the widely known and highly profitable drug operations conducted by the UWSA. (Sources: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003; Unwanted and Unprotected: Burmese Refugees in Thailand, HRW, September 1998).


In 2005, the privileged position of the UWSA was called into question after the SPDC issued an ultimatum for the surrender of unregistered motor vehicles in the Wa’s possession (source: “Junta Moves Baffle Burma Watchers,” SHAN, 24 August 2005). Prior to the ouster of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, the UWSA were exempt from registering vehicles in their possession. In September and November, however, over 100 UWSA members were detained by SPDC troops for failing to have proper licenses on their vehicles (sources: “Tension Between Burmese Troops and UWSA,” DVB, 14 November 2004; “UWSA Members Detained by Burmese Soldiers,” DVB, 15 September 2005).


Multilateral Resistance Organizations


Despite the diversity and occasional conflicts among the various ethnic minority groups, several collaborative groups developed throughout the years to present unified demands and join forces against the military regime. These groups include the National Democratic Front (NDF), the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB) and the Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee (ENSCC).


In 1976 several ethnic minority groups formed the NDF to represent the concerns and needs of ethnic nationalities in Burma. The membership includes the KNU, NMSP, KIO, KNPP, CNF, Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), Lahu Democratic Front (LDF), Palaung Liberation Front (PLF), Pa-O Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Wa National Organization (WNO). The primary advocacy efforts of the NDF have been for the creation of a de-centralized federal system in Burma with equal ethnic minority rights. To assist in these efforts, DAB developed in 1989 as a parallel organization of the NDF and expanded participation to include members of the pro-democracy movement. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003)


Since 2001, the NDF’s work has revolved around drafting an alternative national constitution to that being forced upon the National Convention delegates by the regime. Federalism and protected ethnic minority rights are the primary foundational principles in the NDF’s constitution. The drafting process continued in December 2005 during the fourth annual Ethnic Nationalities Conference. Seeking comment from the populace of Burma as well as from the military regime, an initial draft of the alternative constitution was released following the conference. (Source: “A Struggle for Self-Determination in Burma: Ethnic Nationalities Perspective,” Dr. Lian H Sakhond, 9 September 2004; “Opposition Releases Alternate Draft Constitution,” Network Media Group, 13 December 2005).


The ENSCC formed out of the National Reconciliation Program, which was established in 1999 to pressure and facilitate tripartite dialogue between the ethnic minority groups, the pro-democracy groups, and the junta. The ENSCC is charged with the task of ensuring a degree of unity among the ethnic minority groups and to advocate on particular concerns of the ethnic minority community. The activities of the ENSCC are coordinated with the NDF, the UNLD-LA and the ceasefire groups.

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8.3 Need for a Tripartite Dialogue


“The exclusion of important and representative political actors from the process, the restrictions placed on their involvement, the intolerance of critical voices and the intimidation and detention of pro-democracy activists render any notion of a democratic process devoid of meaning. Freedom of movement, assembly and association must be guaranteed, as they are basic requirements for national reconciliation and democratization.” –  Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma. (Source: “Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar,” Sixtieth session of the UN General Assembly, Item 73(c) of the provisional agenda, 12 August 2005).


In 2005, the junta-controlled process of drafting a national constitution continued through two sessions of the National Convention (NC). The NC began in 1993 after the regime refused to implement the 1990 election results in which the NLD won 81 percent of the parliamentary seats. Since the beginning, the proceedings have been criticized as undemocratic, unrepresentative, and restrictive. Sessions held in 1993 were repeatedly suspended after ethnic minority delegates persistently opposed the centralized state structure proffered by the junta. (Source: “National Convention Proceedings, April 1993,” Working People’s Daily/New Light of Myanmar via Burma Press Summary, April 1993). In November 1995 several delegates, including the SNLD, walked out to protest the marred proceedings (source: “Press Release on NLD Withdrawal,” The National Convention Convening Commission, 28 November 1995). The Convention adjourned on 31 March 1996 and remained suspended until international criticism following the 2003 Depayin Massacre spurred the regime to initiate the seven-point roadmap to democracy.


On 17 May 2004, the NC reconvened after being adjourned since 1996. In opposition to the proceedings, eight ethnic minority groups refused to participate in the 2004 Convention. Despite the unrepresentative nature of the Convention, the proceedings continued with participation being largely restricted by the regime. On 11 May 2004, six ceasefire groups in collaboration issued a joint statement with several proposals to be considered by the Convention delegations. The demands included reform of the constitutional drafting process and incorporation of ethnic minority rights in the future constitution of Burma. The SPDC, however, refused to allow the proposals onto the agenda. The Convention adjourned on 9 July 2004. (Source: “Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar,” Sixtieth session of the UN General Assembly, Item 73(c) of the provisional agenda, 12 August 2005).


In 2005, the NC took place from 17 February to 31 March and from 5 December through the end of the year. In the months leading up to both 2005 sessions, the regime attempted to stifle ethnic opposition through increased military offensives, a crackdown on ethnic leadership, and heightened restrictions. Military operations in the ethnic minority areas were also aimed at pressuring armed resistance groups to disarm. Furthermore, just days before the February sessions were scheduled to begin the SPDC arrested several prominent Shan leaders and activists, including Gen. Hkun Htun Oo and Gen. Hso Ten, chairmen of the SNLD and the SSPC respectively (sources: “Exiled Shan Nationals to Hold on to Armed Struggle,” DVB, 29 March 2005; “Ten Shan Activists Arrested in Myanmar for Conspiracy: Minister,” AFP, 15 March 2005). Ten Shan leaders remained under SPDC custody throughout the NC proceeding (source: “Exiled Shan Nationals to Hold on to Armed Struggle,” DVB, 29 March 2005). These 10 leaders were then sentenced to unreasonably long prison terms on 3 November 2005, a month before delegates reconvened for the December sessions. Following the harsh sentencing of the leaders and before the NC resumed, in late November 11 ethnic political parties signed onto a collaborative statement indicating their lack of faith in the NC process. Also in the lead-up to the December NC sessions, delegates from Shan and Mon States reported being under SPDC surveillance as early as mid-September. (Source: “Ceasefire Groups to Complete Constitutional Convention,” SHAN, 20 September 2005).


Both sessions in 2005 continued to be unrepresentative. During the February session, the regime excluded 44 delegates from the NLD, the SNLD and the Shan State Kokang Democratic Party (SSKDP) after they boycotted the 2004 NC sessions (source: “Myanmar NC to Approve Power Sharing Principles,” Xinhua, 1 February 2005). Furthermore, in February, the SSA-N and SSNA boycotted to protest the arrest and continued detention of Shan leaders and activists (source: “Shan Ceasefire Group Will Quit NC Unless Leaders Released,” Irrawaddy, 14 February 2005; “Rangoon, Shans: No More Mr Nice Guys,” SHAN, 15 February 2005). Demonstrating the junta’s indifference of ensuring a procedurally representative process, Gen. Sein Thein bluntly responded, “We'll manage without you” (source: “Rangoon, Shans: No More Mr Nice Guys,” SHAN, 15 February 2005). The SSA-N delegates, however, rejoined the convention during the December sessions following warnings by the junta that to help their imprisoned leaders they should not to make an issue of the harsh sentences “either in the capacity of an organization or National Convention delegates.” (source: “Shut up: Shan Group Told Not to Complain About Imprisonments of Leaders,” DVB, 22 November 2005). While the NMSP discussed boycotting the February NC, they reluctantly agreed to send a delegation but, in protest, sent lower level officials (source: “NMSP to Attend Burma Junta’s “NC,” DVB, 29 January 2005; “NMSP to Hold Meeting Over Attendance of Burma’s Convention,” DVB, 20 January 2005). In December, however, the NMSP only sent three observers (source: “US Slams National Convention,” Irrawaddy, 6 December 2005). The KNPP also decided not to send a delegation to the December NC describing the process as “just an excuse for SPDC to hold on to its military rule longer.” (source: “National Convention a Farce: KNPP Tells Pinheiro,” Mizzima, 19 November 2005). In addition, the Kokang Democratic Party (KDP) continued their boycott of the NC despite threats of having their organization outlawed by the junta (source: “Burma Junta Invites Political Parties to Attend its Convention,” DVB, 16 November 2005). Meanwhile, a majority of the delegates who attended the 2005 NC as representatives of the “ethnic races” were members of the USDA (source: “Burma Junta Invites Delegates to Attend Convention,” DVB, 5 February 2005).


Like previous NC sessions, delegates continued to be denied any meaningful opportunity for dialogue or participation in the junta-controlled February sessions. All efforts to influence the predetermined agenda were categorically denied by the junta. The SPDC ignored demands posed by the CNF in a statement that sought the release of political prisoners and assessment of the junta-drafted constitutional guidelines. (Source: “Briefing by CNF Representative to the US at the US Department of State,” CNF, 1 February 2005). The junta similarly suppressed other proposals initiated by delegates during the Convention. According to a Shan delegate, “The Wa tried…to recapitulate on what they had proposed during the last round but they were barred.” Another delegate reported that the KNPLF faced the same hindrances. (Source: “Convention Rep: No Law in Burma,” SHAN, 28 March 2005).


During both rounds of the 2005 NC, the SPDC organized forced rallies to feign support for the NC. In February and March villagers from Kaeng-Tung Township were ordered to attend a mass meeting in Rangoon under threats of a 1,000 kyat penalty. Members of the junta-sponsored USDA and the Women’s Affairs Organization also led a 7 1/2 hour long rally in support of the National Convention without providing the participants with food or water. (Source: “People Forced to Attend Mass Demonstration in Kaeng-Tung to Support the “National Convention” Held in Rangoon (Yangon),” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, May 2005).


Amid reports that the December sessions would conclude the NC process, the SPDC began preparing their affiliates to dominate the future government. The SPDC has been priming the USDA to become an imposing political force. On 6 December, Gen. Secretary of the USDA, Brig. Gen. U Htay Oo announced that the USDA would be reconstituted as a political party. (Source: The Game Plan of Nazi Generals in Burma, NDD, 9 December 2005). To increase USDA membership, local authorities in Mon State have reportedly been forcibly registering youth into the USDA. The SPDC also instructed local USDA leaders to begin selecting candidates to run in a future national election in order to compete for the 75 percent non-military-reserved seats (source: In-Depth Analysis on SPDC-Supporting Organizations USDA and PSO, HURFOM, November 2005). In addition, retired army officials have been resettled to Northern Arakan State in order to serve as representatives of the area when the new parliament is formed.


While the junta has been holding their constitutional drafting sessions, several ethnic minority groups in collaboration have been drafting an alternative constitution. From 28 April to 1 May 2005, ethnic minority representatives convened at the fourth annual Ethnic Nationalities Conference to participate in formulating an alternative constitution. In December 2005, a draft was released for public comment.  The constitution is based on a federal Burma with provisions to protect ethnic minority rights. (Source: “Opposition Releases Alternate Draft Constitution,” NMG, 13 December 2005).

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8.4 SPDC Campaign of Abuses Against Ethnic Minority Villagers


A half-century of conflict and military aggression between the successive regimes in control of Burma and ethnic resistance forces has fostered an environment of instability and fear within the ethnic minority areas. In connection with the continued militarization and armed hostilities, innocent ethnic villagers have been targets of rampant and brutal human rights violations and abuses at the hands of regime soldiers for decades. Ceasefire agreements signed between the regime and armed resistance groups have failed to provide any guarantee of protection for villagers. The regime often violates the terms of ceasefire pacts committing attacks and abuses against ethnic villagers. Throughout 2005, there continued to be reports of SPDC-instigated human rights abuses against ethnic villagers, including forced labor and portering, forced relocation, displacement, extortion, land confiscation, rapes, beatings, torture, arbitrary killings. (Source: Country Report on Human Rights Practices- 2004, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 28 February 2005).


The SPDC has employed a long-term and widespread strategy of exploiting ethnic minorities to expand and strengthen its military control in these areas. Local commanders have been instructed to fund the needs of their soldiers locally, leading to many abusive practices. Villagers have continued to be used as forced laborers on various military projects including road-building, base construction and camp maintenance. Villagers have also been forced to provide supplies such as building materials, livestock and money for the military. Villagers are consistently forced to work as porters for the army, carrying building materials, military equipment and rations. Furthermore, villagers are also forced to serve as human mine sweepers. (Source: Myanmar: Aid to the Border Areas, ICG, 9 September 2004).


Attempts to eliminate all ethnic armed resistance through the “four cuts” policy is another cause of severe human rights abuses. The “four cuts” strategy developed in the mid-1960s to cut off the four main necessities of the resistance movement: food, funds, recruits and intelligence. The strategy is aimed at changing “black” areas controlled by armed opposition into “brown” contested territory and ultimately into “white” junta held areas. The “four cuts” policy has continued to be employed by the regime not only weakening the armed resistance movement but also harshly impacting the ethnic minority community.


Arakan State- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


Since 2 January 2005 through to mid-March 2005, villagers from Alay Sankyaw and Myint Hlut were ordered to stand guard at army camps. (Source: “Forced Labor Still Exists,” Kaladan News, 15 March 2005).


In mid-February 2005, 3 members of the local authority in Taungup Township were arrested after villagers filed complaints with the ILO accusing soldiers from SPDC IB 544 and 346 of forcing them to work at fish and prawn farms. (Source: “Local Authorities Arrested for the Crimes of Army Officers in Burma Arakan State,” DVB, 20 February 2005).


Villagers of Alay Sankyaw and Myint Hlut have been forced by SPDC soldiers to work on agricultural, construction and road repair projects since 27 February 2005. (Source: “Forced Labor Still Exists,” Kaladan News, 15 March 2005).


It was reported on 12 August 2005 that after a battle with the ALA, the SPDC detained and tortured a village headman, his son, and 5 others in the middle of Satin Wa village accusing them of being informers for the ALA. (Source: “Armed Clash Occurs Between Arakan Liberation Army and SPDC,” Narinjara News, 12 August 2005).


On 27 August 2005, it was reported that troops from SPDC LIB 20 in Mrite Wa village in Paletwa Township began using villagers as human shields after they lost 1 officer in skirmishes with the ALA. (Source: “Burmese Army Camped Inside Village Due to Fear of Attack,” Narinjara News, 27 August 2005).


On 27 September 2005, it was reported that the authorities in Pone Nar Gyan Township seized Rakhine farmland near Bae Ngar Rar Hill without compensation. (Source: “Land Grabbing by Army Continues Unabated in Arakan State,” Narinjara News, 27 September 2005).


On 4 October 2005, SPDC LIB 564 confiscated 35.2 acres of farmland in Buthidaung Township forcing the farmers and their families from their land. (Source: “Burmese Army Continues to Confiscate Crop Land in Northern Arakan,” Kaladan News, 3 November 2005).


On 14 November 2005, it was reported that children were forced to clean the streets of Sittwe every weekend. (Source: “Forced Labour in Burma’s Arakan State Capital Sittwe,” DVB, 14 November 2005).


On 22 December 2005 it was reported that the construction of an uncompleted road, connecting Maung Gyi Taung village and Chaung village, which began in December 2004 was resumed. The military had been forcing 40 to 50 villagers each day from the Rohingya community to build the road. About 48 acres of villagers’ land had also been confiscated by the military for road construction and army establishments. (Source: “Army Resumes Forced Labor for Road Construction in Northern Arakan,” Kaladan News, 22 December 2005).


Chin State- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


On 15 January 2005 it was reported that soldiers from LIB 269 stationed at Tunzang and Tiddim Townships forced villagers to transport supplies and build army outposts thirty miles from their village. Villagers were reportedly confined to army bases and required to perform menial tasks for the soldiers. (Source: “Burma Army Uses Forced Labour at Chin State,” DVB, 15 January 2005).


It was reported on 15 January 2005 that soldiers had been forcing their way into homes of Chin women under the pretense of “checking guest lists.” The women had then been raped and harassed. (Source: “Burma Army Uses Forced Labour at Chin State,” DVB, 15 January 2005).


On 19 January 2005, troops from SPDC LIB 266 led by Captain Tin Myo arrested Samuel (male, age 18) from Selawn village, Falam Township. He was killed near Hmawngkawn village after being accused of maintaining association with the Chin Integrated Army (CIA). (Source: “Innocent Chin Villager Summarily Executed,” Rhododendron News, CHRO, 9 February 2005).


On 13 March 2005, local SPDC authorities arrested Ram Kung, leader of Lungngo Mino Bu youth organization, and 2 other villagers, Pau Za Mang and Maung Thang accusing them of having links with the CNF. The arrests came following a brawl between a CNF operative and the local police on 12 March 2005 that resulted in the death of 1 policeman and the injury of 2 others. (Source: “Youth Organization Abolished and the Leader Arrested,” Rhododendron Publication, CHRO, May-June 2005).


On 18 March 2005, Capt. Aung Naing Oo of SPDC LIB 266 arrived at Selawn village and called the village headman, council members and telephone operator to assemble. The group was accused of aiding CNF fighters and neglecting to report the activities of the CNF. While the village council members and village headman were badly hurt, telephone operator Hmet Lian was instantly killed when the troops hit him in the face with the butts of their rifles. (Source: “Innocent Chin Beaten to Death by Burmese Army,” Rhododendron News, CHRO, 21 March 2005).


In April 2005, Lt Aung Naing from SPDC LIB 268 and his troops seized U Chan King, headman of Tlaungkhua village, Thangtlang Township and a clerk from Taihdai village for allegedly failing to report the activities of the CNA. Both the clerk and the village headman were forced to patrol the India-Burma border for approximately 1 month. U Chan King was also ordered to pay a 500,000 kyat fine. (Source: “Army Abducts Village Headman for Ransom,” Rhododendron News, CHRO, May-June 2005).


From May 2005 to the date of this report, 8 June 2005, Col. San Aung commander of Burma Army Tactical 2 ordered about 600 people from 20 villages in Chin State to work on a road construction project.  Captain Htun Myint Maung and his company of SPDC LIB 140 strictly guarded the forced laborers.  The laborers are worked to complete at least 200 ft. per day.  Laborers had to bring their own food, tools and medicine to the work site. (Source: “SPDC Forced 600 Villagers to Engage in Road Construction,” Rhododendron News, CHRO, 8 June 2005).


On 15 July 2005, Battalion Comdr. Sgt. Tin Soe of SPDC IB 305 based in Matupi forced 10 underage primary school children to carry rations and supplies during a trek from Sabawngte army camp to Laienpi camp. The load carried by the 10 boys included:

        1.   10 tins of rice;

        2.   10 bottles of cooking oil;

        3.   10 viss of fish paste; and

        4.   5 viss of dried chilly.

Halfway through the journey, 2 of the youngest children became too exhausted to continue.  At that point they met with 5 Laienpi villagers returning from Mizoram who served as substitutes for the children.  The children traveled 12 miles before being substituted by 5 villagers. (Source: “SPDC Forced Primary School Children to Porter,” Rhododendron News, 8 August 2005).


According to a report dated 1 September 2005, soldiers stationed in Falam Township demanded more than 300,000 kyat from 3 cattle traders after threatening them with arrest and hard labor. (Source: “Burmese Troop Robbed 300,000 Kyats From Cattle Traders,” Rhododendron News, CHRO, 1 September 2005).


On 9 September 2005, soldiers from SPDC Battalion 304 beat 5 Chin football spectators in Matupi Township after the villagers supported only the civilian team. (Source: “If You Can’t Beat Them, Beat Them Up: Burmese Soldiers Beat Up Civilians in Football Match,” DVB, 26 September 2005).


On 17 September 2005, it was reported that the authorities fined and tortured villagers who failed to report the presence of the CNA. (Source: “Village Authorities Signed to Report Insurgents,” Khonumthung, 17 September 2005).


On 18 September 2005, a soldier from SPDC LIB 395 raped a Chin girl from Daungmi Kala village. (Source: “Chin Girl Raped by Burmese Soldier,” Rhododendron News, CHRO, 12 October 2005).


During the last week of October 2005, the commander of SPDC LIB 140, Cpt. Aung Myo demanded 2 chickens from the VPDC Chairman of La-O, Thantlang Township with an indirect threat of death and destruction of his property. (Source: “Military Commanders Harass Civilians,” Khonumthung, 9 November 2005).


On 12 November 2005, 2 villagers were killed and 6 injured during a football tournament in Matupi Township, Chin State when an SPDC soldier fired into the crowd after the SPDC sponsored team lost. Lance Cpl. Lin Hung, of the Sniper Platoon of Burma Tactical II, in Matupi, committed suicide after taking responsibility for the shootings. (Sources: “Armed Men Fire on Football Spectators Killing Two and Injuring Six,” Khonumthung, 15 November 2005; “Soldier Commits Suicide Claiming Responsibility for 'Matupi Football Match Tragedy,'” Khonumthung, 20 November 2005).


Karen State- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


On 9 January 2005, troops from SPDC LIB 598, led by Bo Myint Thein, shot at villagers collecting vegetables at Tha Haw Hta in Mae Waing area. In that incident Wah Tho Kho villager Ah Nge Lay, age 32, was killed, while Saw Si Way, age 25, was wounded. Saw Si Way was taken to Mae Waing army camp. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 10 January 2005, SPDC troops used forced porters, mostly between the ages of 14 to 17, during attacks launched on Karen villagers during Karen New Year. (Source: “Myanmar Villagers Flee to Thailand After Clashes,” Reuters, 12 January 2005).


On 20 January 2005, soldiers from SPDC LIB 60 caught 2 Karen villagers, Saw Tha Day Kwa and Saw Pa Ka Raw on 20 January 2005. The 2 villagers were searched, tied up and taken to Baw Gale Gyi, Toungoo District, Karen State. They have since disappeared. (Source: “IDPs in Need of Food Because of Ongoing Oppression by the Burma Army,” FBR, 22 January 2005).


On 8 February 2005, troops from SPDC IB 60, Column 2, led by Hlaing Tint seized villager Saw Htoo Gay from Ler Kla Doe village, Tantabin Township and demanded 150,000 kyat from him. The following day, the same troops seized Saw Toe Day of Hu Mu Doe village and destroyed the 13 baskets of rice he was carrying. Moreover, these troops arrested villagers Saw Bwe Htoo, Saw Oliver and Saw Hsa Mu Htaw. As of late March 2005, they had not been released. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 7 March 2005, after observing a small band of KNLA soldiers in Painkaladon (Gka Leh Der) village, SPDC soldiers entered the village, shooting unarmed civilians. Nay Pay Thwe, a 35-year-old female shopkeeper, was killed under SPDC fire. An 80-year-old woman, Naw Mu Kaw, and a visitor were also wounded. The SPDC troops proceeded to loot a total of 260,000 kyat in goods from the village shops. (Source: “Continued Militarisation, Killings and Fear in Dooplaya District,” KHRG, 2 June 2005).


On 9 March 2005, troops from SPDC IB 315 of Kyaukkyi Township shot and killed Karen villagers, Saw Hla Win and his uncle, on the Maw Ket Ko motor road without any reason. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 14 March 2005, troops from an SPDC military column conducting military operations on Hsaw Me Lu motor road shot and killed 2 villagers from Saw Me Lu village without reason. The 2 victims were Saw Ta Kaw Thaw and Saw Gay Lay. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 28 April 2005 at 8:00 am, troops from SPDC IB 83, Column-2, led by Min Naung, arrested 2 villagers of Noe Maw Pu, Kya In Township without reason. The 2 arrested were Saw Min Htoo, age 29, and Yeh Kay Heh, age 27. After brutally beating them, the soldiers released the 2 at 5:00 pm. The following day, SPDC IB 83 arrested and beat Saw Ka Lee, age 40, and Par Ee Thar, age 38, from Htee Kya village similarly without reason. The 2 were released afterwards. In addition, the troops burnt down a hut in Yaw Da Yeh village resulting in the loss of 50 tins of rice. (Source: KIC, 2005).


Beginning in early July 2005 and continuing throughout the year, the SPDC blockaded villages in Tantabin Township, Nyaunglebin and Toungoo Districts in Karen State. In some areas, villagers were cut-off from access to their own farms, neighboring villages and other food sources creating a threat of starvation for many communities. (Sources: Taungoo Blockade!!!, KIC, September 2005; “KNU Says Junta Carries Out All Cuts Policy to Karen Areas,” BBC Burmese Service, 2 October 2005). (For more information see Chapter 12 Freedom of Assembly, Association and Movement).


On 4 July 2005, troops from SPDC LIB 102 Column 2, led by Bo Tay, caught and beat a Maw Thel villager. On 5 July, the same SPDC troops also beat a Noh Law Plaw villager named Pa Naw Kya. (Source: BI, 2005).


On 7 July 2005, SPDC soldiers raided Tagu Seik, Einme Township, Irrawaddy Division. The soldiers surrounded the village and arrested about 50 villagers accusing them of participating in the 7 May Rangoon bombing. One schoolteacher died as a result of electric shocks used during interrogation sessions. (Source: “More Karen Villagers Detained in Delta Burma,” DVB, 12 August 2005).


On the morning of 7 July 2005, troops from a guerrilla unit of SPDC Operation Command 3 shot and killed Lay Ti villager, Saw Tay Nay Kay Ku (male, age 33) in a betel nut plantation between Hko Lu and Hu Mu Doe. Two days later, troops arrested, tied up and beat Lay Ti villager Saw Law Moo, age 38. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 9 July 2005 at 7:00 am, KNU troops and SPDC IB 60 Column 2, led by Comdr. Tin Maung Win, fought each other at Mae T' Lee village.  Motivated by the loss of this battle and the related injuries of many soldiers, the SPDC troops attacked and killed the chief of Mae T' Lee village. (Source: BI, 2005).


On 11 August 2005 at 7:00 am, Column 1 Comdr. Than Lwin Myint of SPDC IB 10 shot at Maung Soe Than's house in Da Dar Oo village, Kawkareik Township killing Naw Ma Ohn, age 7, and wounding her mother, Naw Ma Aye. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 19 September 2005, troops from SPDC Battalion 53 led by Column Comdr. Bo Tin Naing Htin arrested Thein Myint, the chairperson of Ta Yo village. The troops brutally tortured him. Later, the troops killed Thein Myint at Ka Mar Ti Poe Li village (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 28 September 2005, SPDC IB 53 entered Toungoo District and Comdr. Tin Nae Ton asked Saw Aung Kod Lah, the head villager from Ta Role village, to follow his troops so he could serve as their contact for other villages. However, as they traveled the battalion commander beat him. A block of wood was then placed on his back when he was lying down and soldiers were ordered to stand on either end of it and walk across. This torture broke 8 of his bones. (Source: BI, October 2005).


On 17 October 2005, SPDC troops led by Comdr. Zaw Naing forced 6 Karen villagers from Tantabin Township, Toungoo District to work on and around their military camp. Two days later, Company Comdr. Kyi Myint and his troops similarly forced 25 villagers, including 14 women, to work on projects at their camp. (Source: “Burma Army Using Forced Labour to Maintain Camps,” FBR, November 2005).


On 8 November 2005, troops from SPDC IB 48, led by Comdr. Lu Kyi, demanded information from the village chief of K' Ser Doh village, Saw Ka Myint, about the location of KNU troops. When he denied having any knowledge, the troops took a heated knife and pressed it against the village chief's neck. (Source: BI, October 2005).


On 15 November at 9:45 am, a column SPDC LIB 421 led by Maj. Zaw Zaw Lin arrived at a paddy field near Kutaru village. There, the troops opened fire on villagers working in their field killing 3 people. (Source: KIC, 15 November 2005).


On 26 November 2005, 900 villagers fled Hee Daw Kaw and surrounding villages after attacks led by SPDC IB 73. Two days later, the attacking soldiers destroyed 30 houses. (Source: “900 Villagers Flee and 30 Homes are Burned as the Burma Army Attacks Villagers in Northern Karen State, Burma,” FBR, 26-28 November 2005).


Since 17 December 2005, soldiers from SPDC LIB 439 have been forcing Karen villagers, including children as young as 13, to work on road construction projects in Tantabin Township without compensation. (Source: “Forced Labor in Toungoo District,” FBR, 25 January 2005).


Karenni State- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


Villagers living along the electricity supply line connecting Lawpita Hydroelectric Plant to Rangoon have been forced to guard pylons every ninth day for a 24-hour period. Those who refuse are required to pay 500 kyat. (Source: “Forced Labour Continues in Central Burma,” DVB, 9 January 2005).


On 31 March 2005, troops from SPDC LIB 214 attacked Kwa Kee village in Karenni State causing the villagers to flee.  The soldiers looted the village and arrested 4 villagers. (Source: “Burma Army Attacks Karenni Village, Loots, and Captures Four Villagers,” FBR, 31 March 2005).


In September 2005, troops from SPDC LIB 530 arrested 14 villagers in Loikaw Township who they accused of having contact with the KNPP. Those arrested included the chairman of Dawtheheh village who was reportedly bound with ropes and separated from the other arrestees. Eight villagers were released after 1 month while 6 remained in detention. (Source: “Residents in Lwai-kaw Township Are Arrested and Forcibly Relocate Their Village,” DVB, 21 December 2005).


Mon State- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


Throughout the year, SPDC soldiers ordered villagers in Yebyu Township, including women and the elderly, to attend military training or pay a fine. In addition, families were ordered to pay for the costs of the training. (Source: “Human Rights Effects to Civilians in Yebyu Township,” The Mon Forum, HURFOM, September 2005).


In January 2005 about 100 families from 3 villages in southern Ye and Yebyu Townships fled to Mon resettlement camps on the Thai-Burma border after the SPDC destroyed their homes. (Source: “A Hundred Families Fled to Mon Resettlement Camp,” Kaowao News, 26 January 2005).


On 25 January 2005, it was reported that SPDC IB 62 forced villagers in the south of Thanbyuzayat Township to work on the Kanbuak – Myaingkalay gas pipeline and forced them to pay about 5 million kyat per month of security fees. Soldiers patrolling the gas pipeline beat some villagers.  Some villagers, who crossed the pipeline route in the evening, often local farmers and plantation personnel returning home after completing their work, were accused of being rebels and tortured. (Source: “Five Million Kyats Per Month Demanded for Gas Pipeline Security Fee,” IMNA, 25 January 2005).


On 14 March 2005, it was reported that the SPDC military used forced labor and forced financial contributions to build schools in southern Ye Township. In addition, disappearances and killings were also reported. (Source: “Southern Ye: Horror, Humanity… Hope?” Kaowao News, 14 March 2005).


On 16 March 2005, Column 1 Comdr. Maj. Min Aung of SPDC LIB 104 monitored the movement of villagers in Ta U Ni village, Thaton Township and arrested villager Saw Paw Ner (male, age 26) together with 2 of his companions. The SPDC troops brutally beat these 3 villagers without reason. As of 9 April, they had yet to be released. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 25 May 2005, villagers of Wal Township, Thaton District, Mon State were ordered to destroy their paddy field huts and confined to their villages. (Source: KIC, 2005).


On 25 July 2005, troops from SPDC LIB 599 arrested villagers who were working in the betel nut gardens in Taw Ta Tu Township. The troops then held the villagers hostage in the village church. (Source: “Human Rights Violations Update: Northern and Western Karen State,” FBR, 9 September 2005).


On 12 September 2005, it was reported that SPDC troops seized plantations and extorted money from Mon villagers near Khao Jear sub-town in Ye Township. (Source: “SPDC’s Land Confiscation for Army Village,” Kaowao News, 12 September 2005).


On 4 October 2005, it was reported that villagers from the Bilin area in Mon State were forced to participate in a road construction project without compensation. In connection with the project, the SPDC confiscated farmland from Mon villagers. (Source: “Forced Labour and Land Confiscations in Southern Burma Mon State,” DVB, 4 October 2005).


On 8 October 2005, it was reported that villagers in Ye Township were forced to construct new SPDC military camps. (Source: “Farmers Lose Land to Military Camps,” Kaowao News, 8 October 2005).


On 12 November 2005, it was reported that villagers from Wekali and Wekatai villages were forced to build army bases for the Southeast Command. (Source: “Forced Labour Continues in Burma’s Mon State,” DVB, 12 November 2005).


On 12 November 2005, arbitrary killings were reported in Ye Township as well as the continued use of Mon villagers as minesweepers. (Source: “Forced Labour Continues in Burma’s Mon State,” DVB, 12 November 2005).


On 18 November 2005, it was reported that the SPDC Tactical Command No. 1 used villagers from Joor-hja-bloss as forced porters often requiring them to enter dangerous conflict zones. (Source: “Spate of Arrests for Use as Porter Continues,” IMNA, 18 November 2005).


Shan State- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


In January 2005, Lung S, age 60, a Shan rice farmer, was arrested and detained by SPDC troops for suspected links with insurgents. Lung S claimed to have suffered extensive torture during heavy-handed interrogation sessions. (Source: “Abuses by Burma’s Military Regime in Shan State, Burma,” Dictator Watch, May 2005).


In February 2005, according to Lahu villagers from eastern Shan State, troops beat the entire adult male population over the age of 18, including elderly men, of their village. The villagers were forced to lie on their stomachs and were beaten with bamboo staves. The mass beatings took place after the villagers were unable to supply the troops with a Burmese speaking guide of the area. (Source: “Abuses by Burma’s Military Regime in Shan State, Burma,” Dictator Watch, May 2005).


On 9 February 2005, about 40 SPDC troops led by Maj. Khin Naing of Military Operation Management Command 17 forced 2 villagers from Kaeng Kham Awn village to serve as guides. The villagers were beaten with a stick until they lost consciousness after they were accused of having contact with Shan resistance fighters. (Source: SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, April 2005).


On 27 February 2005, it was reported that Shan villagers were tortured by SPDC personnel after communicating with visiting representatives of the Red Cross and human rights groups. (Source: “Myanmar's Dissidents Plot Strategy as Junta Holds Charter Talks,” AFP, 27 February 2005).


On 28 February 2005, a patrol of 10 soldiers from SPDC LIB 520 shot and killed 4 villagers who were gathering leaves for roofing in the forest near Ho Lin village, Murng Pan Township. The 4 victims were Naang Law (female, age 31), Zaai Keng (male, age 27), Zaai Kit (male, age 30) and Zaai Maai (male, age 25). (Source: “4 Forest Gatherers Shot Dead in Murng Pan,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, June 2005).


On 17 March 2005 at approximately 9:00 pm, 5 soldiers from SPDC IB 66, led by Comdr. Myint Htoo, went to the home of villager Zaai Kyaw La (male, age 24) in Wan Phuy village, Kho Lam village tract, Nam-Zarng Township. There, the soldiers called him to come out of his house. The soldiers shot and killed Zaai Kyaw La as he reached his front gate. (Source: “A Villager Shot Dead in Nam-Zarng,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, July 2005).


In April 2005, Ja K, age 40, a Lahu rice farmer claimed that SPDC troops forced him to serve as a porter and carry approximately 30 kgs. of rice and beans. The soldiers beat him with the stocks of their rifles until he lost consciousness and left him for dead. (Source: “Abuses by Burma’s Military Regime in Shan State, Burma,” Dictator Watch, May 2005).


On 19 April 2005, a patrol of about 60 troops from SPDC IB 64, led by Capt. Win Laing, arrested 5 villagers from Wan Paang village, Lai-Kha Township under accusations of supporting the Shan resistance. The arrestees were interrogated, beaten, tortured and detained for 2 days and 2 nights. Pu Zaang Zan-Da, the village elder, suffered from partial paralysis after being severely beaten by the SPDC troops. The 5 villagers who were arrested were:

        1.    Kae-Min-Da, male, a novice monk

        2.    Pu Zaang Zan-Da, male, a village elder

        3.    Zaai Nyunt, male, age 15, villager

        4.    Ae Mu, female, age 25, villager

        5.    Ae Seng, female, age 25, villager. (Source: SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, June 2005).


In late April and early May 2005, villagers accused of supporting the declaration of an independent Shan State by an exiled Shan group were arrested, beaten and detained by troops led by Capt. Win Laing of IB 64 in Wan Paang Village, Lai-Kha Township. In addition, the junta forced villagers to participate in protests against the ISG. (Sources: “Monk and Villagers Arrested, Detained and Tortured; Villagers Forced to Rally Against Shan Resistance, in Lai-Kha,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, June 2005; “Burma: Army and Proxies Attack Shan Civilians, HRW, 25 May 2005).


On 3 May 2005, a patrol of troops from Company No. 4 of SPDC LIB 515, led by Capt. Kyaw Aye, arrested the village secretary Zaai Kham Too from Ter Leng village in Haai Seng village tract, Lai-Kha Township, accusing him of providing money and rice to Shan soldiers in the area. Zaai Kham Too was detained, interrogated, severely beaten and tortured by the SPDC troops. Later 300,000 kyat of money was extorted from his relatives for his release. After his release, Zaai Kham Too continued to suffer from injuries sustained at the hands of his captors and was unable to move around without assistance. He also lost 3 teeth during the beating. (Source: SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, July 2005).


On 5 May 2005 at about 4:00 am, SPDC soldiers conscripted Pi Aung (male, age 40) from Naai Naeng village, Haai Naeng village tract, Nam-Zarng, as a guide. The troops accused Pi Aung having connections with Shan fighters and killed him by shooting him in the stomach. (Source: “Civilian Guide Shot Dead in Nam-Zarng,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, November 2005).


On 21 June 2005, about 45 troops from SPDC LIB 569 led by Deputy Comdr. Maj. Soe Myint shot and killed, without warning, Zaai Saw (male, age 25), a displaced farmer from Saai Khaao village, building an embankment at Maak Kher Nu village in Saai Khaao village tract, Kun-Hing Township. Thereafter, the troops accused 2 farmers displaced farmers, Su Zit-ta (male, age 35) and Zaai Law Khin (male, age 37), of cultivating rice and gathering information for Shan resistance fighters. As a result, the soldiers tied up, interrogated, beat and tortured the men. The soldiers took the 2 farmers with them as they patrolled other relocated villages for 2 days and 2 nights. On 23 June 2005, the soldiers stabbed the 2 farmers in the chest and back causing them to die. (Source: “Displaced Farmers Shot, Tortured and Stabbed to Death, in Kun-Hing,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, December 2005).


On 3 July 2005, a patrol of soldiers from SPDC LIB 246, led by Sgt. Aung Kyaw Moe, ventured to Laikam, Kunhing Township in search of cows for meat. There the troops found 2 boys herding cattle. The troops shot and killed Waling, age 16, after hitting him in the head. The troops then accused Sai Awng, age 12, of being a spy for the resistance fighters and forced him to produce a cow for consumption. (Source: “Junta Troops Shoot A Villager to Death,” SHAN, 28 September 2005).


On 10 November 2005, troops from SPDC IB 276 based in Moe Meik shot and killed 6 cattle traders and stole their 25 cattle near Moe Meik, Shan State. The 6 victims were:

        1.    Aik Maung, male, age 28, from Namkhan Township;

        2.    Aik Thaung, male, from Manwein village;

        3.    Kyaw Kyaw, male, age 25, from Moemate;

        4.    2 men from Tagaung Township, Mandalay Division. (Source: “Army Kills Six Cattle Traders,” Mizzima, 23 November 2005).


On 12 December 2005 at 7:30 am, a patrol of 60 troops from SPDC IB 33, based in Tangyan and led by Maj. Zaw Zaw Naing, shot at a group of villagers as they were herding their cattle near Nalooklao and Napang villages in Namlao village tract. Sai Hsa (male, age 30) sustained an injury to his leg and was severely beaten and thrown into the Nampang River where he drowned. (Source: “Killing In Ceasefire Area,” SHAN, 14 December 2005).

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8.5 Abuse of Ethnic Minorities by Ceasefire Groups


After being given or promised substantial benefits by the SPDC, several ceasefire groups have become allies of the junta. In return for local autonomy, material support, business opportunities and development projects, some ceasefire groups have supported the SPDC’s tactics of controlling the ethnic civilian population through militarization and oppression. (Source: Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, ICG, 7 May 2003). Attenuated to supporting the SPDC in addition to advancing their own political and military control, some ceasefire groups perpetrate human rights abuses against members of their own ethnic group or other ethnic minority groups in their areas. Facing oppression, abuse and discrimination both at the hands of the SPDC military authorities as well as by the ceasefire groups, security and economic stability has become a challenge for civilians in these areas. (Sources: Myanmar: Aid to the Borders, ICG, 9 September 2004; Thornton, Phil, “A Journey Out of the Crossfire,” South China Morning Post, 5 November 2004).


DKBA- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


On 6 January 2005, DKBA Sgt. Maj. Pah Kler Kay ordered 12 villages in Thaton Township to give a total of 42,000 sheets of palm leaves. On 30 January 2005, DKBA Capt. Dah Bu also ordered 6 villages of Thaton Township to pay porter fees of 15,000 kyat each month. (Source: FBR, 5 April 2005).


In June 2005, KHRG reported that DKBA units in Dooplaya District abused and killed civilians with impunity. (Source: KHRG, 2005).


On 1 September 2005 at 4:00 pm, DKBA troops, led by Than Htun, opened fire on Ler Ka Law villager Kyaw Win's house, seriously wounding Kyaw Win's wife, Naw Mu Ngar (age 38), his daughter Naw Ko Thar (age 12), his son Maung Mya Win (age 6) and Kwee Lay villager Naw Mya Aye (female, age 46). (Source: KIC, 2005).


KNPLF- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


Between February and June 2005 in Northern Karenni State each family was ordered to support SPDC and KNPLF troops with 16 kg. of rice per month. (Source: FBR, 6 September 2005).


The villagers in Sha Daw Township were reported to be living in fear and hiding in their fields to escape forced labor requests from the allied forces after SPDC sponsored attacks in May 2005. (Source: FBR, 6 September 2005).


On 11 August 2005, an armed group from the KNPLF tortured the village chief of Htukwesoe village, west of Pruso town without any known reason. As a result of the torture, both of his eyes were seriously wounded. (Source: KNAHR, 2005).


On 17 August 2005, an armed group from the KNPLF, jointly led by Sanda Aung and Lwizi, set off for Krukhu and arrived the next day. They arrested a villager named Phabu without any known reason and badly tortured him. (Source: KNAHR, 2005).


On 17 August 2005, an armed group from the KNPLF led by Cho Aye Mo killed villager Phakyeh, age 38, after accusing him of being an informer to Karenni resistance fighters. The following day KNPLF troops under the command of Baw Ei executed the Mawthito village secretary, age 33, under similar accusations. (Source: KNAHR, 2005).


UWSA- Partial List of Incidents for 2005


On 15 April 2005, during hostilities with the SSA-S, Wa troops from the 171st Military Region arrested Nya-Lin-Da, age 18, and his wife, Naang Suay Ing, age 17, who were collecting wild vegetables in the valley of Nam Aw stream in Murng-Ton Township. They accused the couple of being Shan soldiers. They were tortured so severely that after 1 month they still had to eat boiled rice because they could not chew. (Source: “Arrest, Beating and Torture of Shan villagers by a ‘Wa’ Ceasefire Group, in Murng-ton,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, July 2005).


Since April 2005, troops of UWSA Battalion 214 had been forcing villagers of Naa Pa Kaao to dig holes for planting rubber trees at their rubber plantation in Murng-Ton Township. (Source: “Forced Labor Used by ‘Wa’ Troops in Murng-Ton,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, July 2005).


In April 2005, Wa troops from the 171st Military Region forced 60 villagers from Huay Aw village to bury 68 human corpses between Huay Aw and Pung An villages, causing 3 young villagers to fall sick and die about 12 days later. (Source: “Villagers forced to Bury Many Corpses by ‘Wa’ Troops,” SHRF Monthly Report, SHRF, July 2005).

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8.6 Interference and Denial of Cultural Expression and Events


The SPDC views the diversity of culture among the ethnic nationalities as the root of economic instability and underdevelopment. To promote their goals of forming a homogenous culture and a centralized political order, the SPDC employs a brutal, systematic and widespread strategy of repressing ethnic cultural practices and events. Through determination and community strength, the ethnic groups have found ways to express their cultural identity. However, they face daily struggles to preserve the survival of their cultures.


Karen State


On 10 January 2005, the commemoration of Karen New Year, SPDC soldiers disrupted celebrations in Kah Law Ghaw village of Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District, demanding that all KNLA soldiers leave the area. Fearing an attack, all 350 villagers fled to the Thai border. On 11 January 2005, SPDC soldiers shelled the village with mortars and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). (Source: “SPDC Violates the Ceasefire during Karen New Year Celebrations; the Attack on Kah Law Ghaw Village, Dooplaya District,” KHRG, 3 February 2005).


Mon State


In September 2005, it was reported that soldiers beat and fined civilians from Bop Htaw village for not speaking Burmese. Bop Htaw village is located in Ye Township where the majority of the population cannot speak Burmese but are required to do so by a policy of “assimilation” promoted by the SPDC battalion in charge of the area. Villagers were kicked several times and fined when they failed to speak Burmese. (Source: “Villagers Beaten and Fined for Not Speaking Burmese,” Kaowao News, 14 September 2005).


Shan State


In 2005, it was reported that Shan literature and culture societies in Hsenwi, northern Shan State were prevented from organizing Shan literary classes during the summer holidays. Traditionally, Shan students, who learn Burmese at school, were taught how to read, write and converse in their mother tongue during the summer months. After the SSNA 11th Brigade “exchanged arms for peace” in April 2005, the people of Hsenwi were banned from teaching Shan by the township officer, who denounced the classes as an excuse for political gatherings. (Source: “No Peace Since ‘Peace’ Was Achieved,” SHAN, 17 June 2005).


On 3 December 2005, SPDC authorities arrested 8 Shan organizers of Shan New Year celebrations. The Chairman of the Shan State Literature and Culture Committee, Dr. Sai Maw Kham, and a popular Shan singer, Sai Hpawn Hseng Moeng, were among those arrested. The Shan New Year celebrations were held on 1 December. (Sources: “Shan Leaders Arrested for Celebration National New Year,” DVB, 8 December 2005; “Crackdowns Follow Shan New Year,” SHAN, 7 December 2005).

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8.7 Land Confiscation and Resettlement


“The Rohingya villages will be in trouble if the NaTaLa villages are constructed near them. The lands belonging to the Rohingya villagers will be confiscated and the villagers will have to construct the NaTaLa villages. In addition, the Rohingya villagers will be forced to provide rice for the NaTaLa villages. Yet, at the moment, they are facing famine. The freedom of the Rohingya villagers is decreasing more and more as the NaTaLa villages are constructed. Their property will be lost and there will be no security for the Rohingya villagers.” - Student from Buthidaung (source: “The SPDC Carry out Na-Ta-La Village Construction Project in Northern Arakan State,” Kaladan News, 25 September 2005).


Since the early 1990s, the SPDC has enacted a policy of land confiscation and forced relocation in Northern Arakan State, in order to establish “model villages” for Buddhist Burman and Rakhine settlers. The “model village” program is officially carried out by the Ministry for the Development of Border Areas and National Races. The Ministry is also known as NaTaLa. Thus, “model villages” are often referred to as “NaTaLa villages”. As a result of the construction of the “model villages”, large tracts of Rohingya land have been confiscated and entire communities have been forced to leave their homes and relocate. Furthermore, local residents are forced to provide free labor and building materials for the construction of the villages.


Among those of Burman ethnicity, the SPDC authorities have reportedly relocated released criminals, HIV patients, drug addicts, and retired armed forces personnel to inhabit the “model villages”. Furthermore, the junta has offered 257 Dinet Buddhists from the Bangladesh- Burma border to settle in “model” villages reportedly to outnumber the large Muslim population in Northern Arakan State. (Source: “Burma Offers Bangladeshi Buddhists to Settle in Northern Arakan,” Narinjara News, 3 January 2006). Those who are relocated to model villages are reportedly offered incentives to encourage resettlement. Residents are reportedly provided with a home, one to four acres of land and a pair of oxen.


In 2005, the SPDC continued to confiscate land in northern Arakan State from local farmers for re-allocation as NaTaLa Villages. In three northern townships of Arakan State, Rathidaung, Buthidang, and Maungdaw, there are over 30 “model villages” that have been built since 1990. In July 2005, local farms in Rathiduang Township situated near the villages of Zaydi Byin, Athet Nanra, Aut Nanra, Chuk Byin, Chin Wra, Thein Daung, Kyauk Ran, and Tha Pree Daw were confiscated by the SPDC authorities (source: “Authority Loots Local Farms for Modern Villages,” Narinjara News, 5 July 2005). In September 2005, the local SPDC authority in Buthidang and Maungdaw informed residents of plans to increase the number of NaTaLa villages three-fold, bringing the total to 110 “model villages” (source: “The SPDC Carry Out NaTaLa Village Construction Project in Northern Arakan State,” Kaladan News, 25 September 2005). In implementing these plans, in December 2005, 80 houses were built in Maungdaw. These houses were constructed with the use of forced labor of Rohingya villagers. It was reported that most of the new comers, Buddhist families from Burma proper, were retired army officers including officers who intend to be selected as representatives of the area in a future parliament.  Nearby villages were forced to supply generators for the new comers as well as 1,000 kyat per family. (Source: “80-Family of New Buddhist Settlers Brought into Northern Arakan,” Kaladan News, 31 December 2005).


Meanwhile, in December 2005, it was reported that a group of the NaTaLa settlers were stealing farm products from local Rohingya villagers in Buthidaung Township. Although the villagers reported the loss of fruits, vegetables and cattle from their plantations to the local authorities, their complaints were ignored. (Source: “Burman Settlers in Northern Arakan Steal Local People’s Properties,” Kaladan News, 13 December 2005).

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8.8 Appendix I: SPDC List of Ethnic Minority Groups of Burma



Karenni (Kayah)

Karen (Kayin)














Yun (Lao)





Meithei (Kathe)






Ka-Yan (Padaung)




Kwe Myi





Mon Kayin (Sarpyu)

Ka-Lin-Kaw (Lushay)














Bre (Ka-Yaw)


Awa Khami






Manu Manaw







Maru (Lawgore)

Yin Talai








Yin Baw


Kaung Saing Chin




Lashi (La Chit)




Kaw (Akha-E-Kaw)



Shu (Pwo)

Kwangli (Sim)





Gunte (Lyente)


Khamti Shan


















Saing Zan


Man Zi




Yin Kya




Yin Net




Shan Gale




Shan Gyi


Zahnyet (Zanniet)








Tiddim (Hai-Dim)
























Dai (Yindu)






Maw Shan


















Miram (Mara)









Lushei (Lushay)


















Wakim (Mro)


















Asho (Plain)





*Note: The SPDC does not recognize several ethnic minority groups that exist in Burma, such as the Rohingya population in Arakan State. Without official recognition by the regime, these groups lack access to basic entitlements including citizenship.  

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8.9 Appendix II: Map of Ethnic Minority Territory in Burma


(Source: BI, 2006).

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8.10 Appendix III: Ceasefire Status of Ethnic Opposition Groups





Arakan Liberation Party (ALP)

Khine Ye Khine


Chin National Front (CNF)

Thomas Thangnou -


Communist Party of Burma (CPB-Arakan State)

Saw Tun Oo


Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA)

U Thuzana & Kyaw Than


Gods Army (Kersay Doh)

Johnny & Luther Htoo

not active

Kachin Defence Army (KDA)

Mahtu Naw


Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)

Lamung Tu Jai


Karen National Union (KNU

Saw Ba Thin Sein


Karen Peace Force

Saw Tha Mu Hei


Karenni National Defense Army (KNDA

Zaw Hla & Lee Reh


Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF)

San Tha & Tun Kyaw



Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP)

* Hte Bupeh


Karenni State Nationalities Peoples’ Liberation Front (KNPLF)

Sandar & Htun Kyaw


Kayan National Guard (KNG)

Gabriel Byan & Htay Ko


Kayan New Land Party (KNLP)

Shwe Aye


KNU Special Region group (Toungoo)

Saw Farrey Moe


Lahu National Organization (LNO)

Paya Ja Oo


Mergui-Tavoy United Front

Saw Han


Mon Army, Mergui District (MAMD)

Ong Suik Heang


Mong Tai Army

Khun Sa


Myanmar National Democracy Alliance Army (MNDAA-Kokang)

Phone Kyar Shin


National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA-east Shan State)

Sai Lin (Lin Ming-xian)


National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN)


NSCN Main faction


Isaac & Muivah


National United Party of Arakan (NUPA)

Shwe Tha


New Democratic Army (Kachin) (NDA-K)

Sakhone Ting Ying


New Mon State Party (NMSP)

Nai Shwe Kyin


Palaung State Liberation Party (PSLP)

Aik Mone


Pa-O National Organization (PNO)

Aung Kham Hti


Rakhine State All National Races Solidarity Party

Saw Tun Oo


Rohingya National Alliance (RNA)

Nural Islam, Dr Yunnus -


Shan State Army (SSA) (aka SSA-South)

Yord Serk


Shan State Army-Shan State Progress Party (SSA) (SSA-North)

Sai Nawng & Loi Mao


Shan State National Army (SSNA) (aka SSA-Central)

Karn Yawd


Shan State Nationalities Liberation Organization (SSNLO)

Tha Kalei


United Wa State Army (UWSA)

Pao Yuchang


Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors (VBSW)

Kyaw Ni ‘Johnny’


Wa National Organization (WNO)

Maha San


(Source: Burma Briefing: Issues and Concerns Volume 1, Altsean, November 2004).


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