[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
KHRG REPORT 95-30
- Subject: KHRG REPORT 95-30
- From: smith@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 17 Aug 1995 04:54:00
[Note: This report has been posted by KHRG, not by A. Smith.
Please ignore any reference to A. Smith in the message header.]
MYAWADDY-KAWKAREIK AREA UPDATE
An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
August 6, 1995 / KHRG #95-30
[SOME DETAILS ARE REPLACED WITH 'XXXX' FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION]
This report can be considered as supplementary to the report
"SLORC/DKBA Activities in Kawkareik Township", KHRG #95-23, 10/7/95.
The Myawaddy-Kawkareik area is in central Karen State, not far west
of the Thai border. The following account of the current situation
there was given by a Buddhist Karen officer in the Karen National
Liberation Army (KNLA) in an interview on July 15, 1995. Despite
losing bases at Manerplaw and Kawmoora in early 1995, the KNLA
is still very active in guerrilla operations in Kawkareik Township
and other areas. In Kawkareik Township, SLORC has given some
local authority to the DKBA (Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army),
but SLORC troops are still the predominant force in the area.
It should be noted that the DKBA's Pa Nwee and Pa Tha Da, both
of whom figured prominently in report #95-23, are not mentioned
in this account because both of them have apparently been transferred
by SLORC; Pa Nwee, initially thought to have been executed by
SLORC, has reportedly been seen at the SLORC base at Meh Tha Waw,
while Pa Tha Da was promoted by SLORC after proving his skills
at looting and abuse of civilians, and has been transferred to
parts as yet unknown.
This officer's name has been omitted to protect him. He is about
50 years old, Karen Buddhist, and an officer in the KNLA operating
in the Myawaddy-Kawkareik area.
Pa Er was killed by SLORC soldiers on 22 June. He was 30 years
old, a Karen Buddhist. It happened in XXXX village, Kawkareik
Township XXXX. He was a farmer, married
with 3 children. He was killed by LIB [Light Infantry Battalion]
#XXX - Major XXXX and soldiers from Column X. Their
camp is at XXXX in Kawkareik Township. Their soldiers
found Pa Er while they were searching for our units in the forest.
He was there picking dogfruit. They asked him about us but he
didn't know anything, so they tortured him to death. He was tortured
terribly. We saw his body - his mouth had been cut open, his
ears had been cut off and his face was sliced up. The porters
and villagers in the area saw them doing it. They saw the soldiers
beating him severely. It was at XXXX, between XXXX
and XXXX. XXXX...XXXX. There were many witnesses who
saw them kill Pa Er. He was accused of having connections
with KNU [Karen National Union]. Sometimes we stay in XXXX,
but he was not a KNU member. Pa Er was just captured in the
forest, that's why they accused him. He gave them his village
head's name and told them the village head would vouch that he
was only a villager, but because they saw him in the forest they
accused him of being an "insurgent".
The same day they arrested XXXX, and accused her of connections
with us. She is also from XXXX, and she is over 50 years
old. The SLORC said her husband was one of our members, but actually
they're just ordinary villagers. They saw her outside her village
and she told them she was a villager. They asked her about our
movements but she said she didn't know anything because she hadn't
gone anywhere. They accused her of taking rice to Karen soldiers
because she was wearing a big towel on her head. Then they tied
the towel over her face and kicked her to the ground, and then
two or three soldiers walked and jumped on her body and threw
water on the towel so she couldn't breathe. But they didn't get
any information from her, because she didn't know anything about
us. Because of this, the villagers are always afraid and live
in terror. The SLORC always demands that people report anything
they know about KNLA, and if they don't give information they
are punished. Now the Ko Per Baw ["Yellow Headbands", i.e. DKBA]
are also controlling and watching, so the villagers are left with
no choice [but to tell], and it is difficult for us.
I know Ko Per Baw. They are the worst. They think they are doing
good things, but actually they are torturing our people and they
just don't see this. Most of them used to be villagers so they
know about our operations and they inform the SLORC, so our messengers
and others who help us are in danger. When the SLORC soldiers
get the names they arrest the people. There was one KNU village
head, I don't want to give his name, when the Ko Per Baw announced
that all KNU members had to report to them he did so. The Ko
Per Baw checked his name against a list given to them by the SLORC
and then captured him. He was tortured and gave information.
That was last month.
The area Ko Per Baw leader is U B'Nya Tha Meet. He calls himself
Captain B'Nya Tha Meet. His assistant is "Captain" Kyaw Kyaw,
who can't speak or read Burmese and has no education, so it is
a problem that he got an officer's rank. B'Nya Tha Meet was a
monk before, now he is a soldier. In Htoo Kaw Ko village, the
Ko Per Baw leader is Maung Soe [Maung Soe led the armed kidnapping
of Pado Mahn Yin Sein from Beh Klaw refugee camp in Thailand in
February, and later wrote a death threat against Mahn Yin Sein's
nephew, who escaped the kidnapping - see "SLORC's Northern Karen
Offensive", KHRG #95-10, 29/3/95]. At one time Maung Soe was
in the KNLA. He was married, but he ran off with another woman
who was also already married and then married her, and then he
married again to a third woman. We arrested him and jailed him,
so he was a convict. He had also done many other bad things,
including killing people, but the [KNU] judge who heard his case
had mercy on him and only jailed him. He was released in the
course of the last battles [for Manerplaw] and went and became
a holy man [religious layman]. He reunited with his first wife
- I don't know about the other two. He was wearing robes, building
a pagoda and living together with his wife. Then when Ko Per
Baw reached his area he joined and received a pistol and a uniform
with two stars [Lieutenant]. Then he gave a list of names of
all our messengers and members that he knew, and those people
had all their property confiscated by SLORC, including their fields,
cattle, and their rice supplies. Quite a lot of families suffered.
They left their villages and went to 6th Brigade area [the new
headquarters area to the south, now under attack]. They didn't
There are not many Ko Per Baw in XXXX, maybe 10, but there
are hundreds of SLORC soldiers. We estimate that the total number
of Ko Per Baw is only 300-500, because they are very thinly spread.
Their arms are the same as ours but they have little ammunition,
not enough for even a single battle, and I don't think the SLORC
will issue them any more. We know that the SLORC have no faith
in the Ko Per Baw and don't let them enter their [SLORC] camps.
They stay separately, with the Ko Per Baw only operating in the
midst of SLORC units. So the Ko Per Baw are surrounded, and they
think that therefore they are safe and well-guarded - but they
can't see the SLORC's plan.
SLORC gives supplies to Ko Per Baw. Ko Per Baw announced that
they would not take money from villages, but now they do. The
SLORC is not giving money for their salaries so they say the villagers
must give the money. They demand a lot. If they control a village,
they collect the money on a monthly basis, but it is usually not
enough for them. So their soldiers go to villages where they
don't stay, and collect money "in advance". But if they come
again and again, they demand it again and again [several times
every month]. Now they are establishing a "Justice Department"
and are reopening and retrying all cases previously handled by
the KNU, and they have announced that KNU decisions are all illegitimate.
Their "judges" are illiterate and will usually accept the argument
of the first person to come to them about a case, so the man who
speaks first and most in court will be successful. They decide
theft cases, civil disputes, etc. Usually they just reverse KNU
decisions. The truth is that it's just a business, a way to get
Now they've said that next year they won't allow villagers to
keep or kill domestic animals, and that everyone must become vegetarian.
We thought the Ko Per Baw were vegetarians, but some eat meat.
For example, the leader of the Ko Per Baw in Htee Law Thee village
is Thay Klaw. He was a villager before and was known as a strict
vegetarian, but then he went to Myaing Gyi Ngu [DKBA headquarters]
and came back as a Company Captain on June 8th. People went to
prepare vegetable curries on his return, but he told them to add
some meat. They asked "Can you eat meat?", and he explained that
he can't eat "living things", only meat. Then he told them to
catch 2 chickens and his soldiers cooked them. Then he announced
that the chicken's inner organs must be thrown away because these
are the "living parts", that he and his men would eat only the
flesh and that this would be the equivalent of vegetarianism!
I don't understand how this is so, and I don't understand their
ideology and their ways. Most of their members previously had
criminal records and are liars. For example, Po Yaw, he's a useless
man with debts in Mae Sot [Thailand], Thingan Nyi Naung and Kawkareik.
He is a liar and a gambler, and drank alcohol and played cards
all day. He's surrounded by debts, and his wife has refused to
stay with him. He's afraid of her, so he joined Ko Per Baw.
Now I heard he has become a holy man and does nothing bad. But
I don't know how long that will last for.
In XXXX every family must pay 25 Kyat per month to LIB XXX,
and there are also many "emergency" porter fees that are
quite expensive: 500, 600, or sometimes even 1,000 Kyat per person
called [SLORC calls people whenever they need them, and the only
way to get out of it is to pay - often they will deliberately
call several times the number they need in order to get both porters
and money]. The villagers must also give money to another group,
Tha Ka Sa Pa [the "Anti-Insurgent Group", a special group under
the Army], two baskets of rice from each family every year plus
a lot of money, but I forget how much. Tha Ka Sa Pa has about
15 men at Mya B'Dine, but there are a lot at other villages further
into Burma. They are Burmese, and SLORC officers lead and control
them. Also, the "People's Army" [a SLORC militia] demands 15
Kyat per month per family. They don't demand as much because
they get money from setting up checkpoints on the car roads.
So now the villagers suffer a lot. Years ago, few groups demanded
anything from them, but now there are many - SLORC, Ko Per Baw,
Tha Ka Sa Pa, People's Army, and also us. They face a big burden.
They hoped Ko Per Baw would be their salvation, but actually
Ko Per Baw demands the most, and now they have also started to
demand porters because they can't carry all their possessions.
They don't beat the porters, but SLORC is infamous for this.
Last month I saw two of their porters dead. I saw the bodies
on June 13. One was north of H---. The villagers said one had
died there, and we looked and buried the corpse. The other was
between T--- and H---. I couldn't guess his age, because the
corpse was bloated and rotting. I could only see a longyi [sarong].
That is a very harsh route, their loads are very heavy and they
are not given enough rice. Some porters escaped in groups of
three or four and told us that many were beaten. Most of them
were Burmans, some of them from towns very far away. I asked
them "But you're the same race [as the soldiers], why do they
do this to you?" And they said the soldiers didn't care. I pitied
them. At first some of them were afraid, but later we spoke normally
and I said "I don't have any money to give you to help you on
your trip home, but I can feed you rice and give you some to take".
We gave them rice, chillies and fishpaste.
In May, villagers north of Myawaddy saw more weapons like those
they used at Wan Kha [Kawmoora] being transported into the area.
They brought three more artillery pieces, but I don't know why
because we have no more bases there. They were very big, with
a barrel diameter of about 1 foot - to be mounted like mortars,
but much bigger than the 120mm's that the villagers had seen before.
Six people were needed just to lift one barrel. [Something like
200-300mm siege mortars with delayed-action shells were used to
destroy the bunkers at Kawmoora. They have relatively short range
but the explosion is devastating. It is hard to guess why the
SLORC needs more in the area now, unless it is a show of strength
to scare Thailand.] Also , three days ago many new soldiers arrived
at Bo Pah Hta [about 100 km. further north, on the border with
Thailand]. And I heard that 2 new supply Battalions arrived in
Kawkareik in the last few days. It is strange that when there
was more fighting there was not much activity in rainy season,
but this year there is.
[Light Infantry] Division 88 is operating in our area. They have
been forcing the villagers to build new camps and roads, including
the Kawkareik-Nubu road. In the hot season men, women, and children
must work - nearly entire villages must go. There is also a place
near Nubu where SLORC is now making rubber plantations, and the
villagers must work there too - clearing ground, which is quite
hard. Also, especially in #355 and #356 Battalion areas many
people's fields have been taken, maybe thousands of acres. The
owners are not allowed to work on them now, but other villagers
are forced to work on them [growing crops for sale or consumption
by the Army]. The owners are from Baw Law and Kway Shan villages
[north of Thingan Nyi Naung]. The people doing the work aren't
paid. In Kawkareik there are three security battalions [as opposed
to supply battalions] - #97, 230, and 231. In Myawaddy, #355,
356, and 357. Now they plan to put another into Kawkareik at
Kyaun K'Lay village and also another one at Myawaddy, so that
will make 8 regular battalions in 2 townships. I believe that
a lot of people will go to Thailand soon [as refugees]. They
are trying to block the border, but villagers will try to come
because they have to face too many difficulties, and because I
really don't think the SLORC operation is over yet.
- [END OF REPORT] -