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Karen Human Rights Group: Jan. 96 r

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Date: Thu, 22 Feb 1996 05:35:27 -0800
Subject: Karen Human Rights Group: Jan. 96 report, 2/2


	An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
	       January 30, 1996     /     KHRG #96-06



NAME:    "U Thinmanee"     SEX: M    AGE: XX   Rakhine Buddhist monk
ADDRESS: Maungdaw Town, Arakan State 

The Na Sa Ka groups #1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are in Maungdaw and they have 
a commander in chief in one camp which is known as Gree Kweh Ray 
[Na Sa Ka is a SLORC combined force including army, police and 
border security operating in Arakan State along the Burma 
Bangladesh border - the abbreviation Na Sa Ka actually stands for 
'Border Welfare, Development and Defense'].  Kerosene, salt, fish, 
everything is controlled by Na Sa Ka.  The sea fish as well as the 
freshwater fish.  They control all the businesses in Arakan.  And they 
sell everything!  They build their camps on people's land and occupy 
illegally 5 or 10 acres.  When they build their camp, they block the 
irrigation system of the toddy tree plantations of the farmers nearby.  
They need bricks and bamboo and if the villagers can't provide them, 
they have to pay 1,000 or 2,000 Kyats for their buildings.  The people 
also have to give their labour.  After they finish making the bricks with 
the people's money and labour, then they sell them on the market for 4 
or 5 Kyats each.  They take rice from the villagers by force: 12 baskets 
for each acre, without paying.  They take it for their camps.  The 
surplus they export for dollars, especially to Bangladesh illegally.

They are building a 24-mile road from Maungdaw to Kyin Chaung.  
The Na Sa Ka headquarters are in Kyin Chaung.  In the area named Za 
Kain Brawn, they bring prisoners from the jail.  They fence the area 
and use the prisoners to break rocks.  They give them one milk tin of 
rice for two and they can't even stand up [because of the chains and 
weakness from hunger - one milk tin is not even enough to feed one].  
If half a milk tin of rice is not enough, they can scratch the trees and eat 
leaves to fill up their stomach.

They also take civilians in the villages.  The villagers can't bear their 
treatment and try to escape from the work before completing the roads 
and the bridges.  Now, they recruit launch owners to carry the villagers 
to the work site and the launch owners are obliged to feed the villagers 
for 5 days.  If the boat owners don't agree to carry the labourers, Na Sa 
Ka blocks the river for some time and the boat jetties get damaged by 
the salty water.  Na Sa Ka also takes Jeeps from the people by turns.  
They have their own Jeeps, but they use them only for shopping and for 
their personal use.

Na Sa Ka has increased its religious activities in Arakan State.  Most of 
the religious functions are organised by them. They go to the 
government departments like administration, schools, etc. and tell the 
civil servants to donate money for religious functions.  Then they bring 
with them 20 or 30 yellow robes and donate these to the monks.  They 
show this on TV so that the people can see.  Na Sa Ka is now building 
Hanenda pagoda in Sittwe.  The lower part is like the Shwedagon 
pagoda.  For this purpose, the ministers donated money but this is only 
to show off [SLORC ministers have themselves shown on TV almost 
every night donating money to such projects].  Then they made a list of 
other people who had to donate money and how much.  They don't use 
any money from the government, only people's money. SLORC 
organises sport games in Sittwe so they demand Maungdaw township to 
give 200,000 or 300,000 Kyats, and they collect this money from the 
people.  The same happens everywhere in Arakan State.  Not only for 
Arakan State.  If there are youth games in Kachin State, we also have to 
give money.  When they organise those competitions they also need 
wooden boards and bamboos to build the fences and the galleries, and 
the people of Burma have to give all of it.

If one of their ministers plans to visit our area, we never know in 
advance when he comes.  But at least one week before, they block all 
the roads,  they take the vehicles and Jeeps, they stop the traffic, they 
don't allow people to go outside of their houses.  So people cannot go to 
work.  It is like an undeclared curfew.  If the people can't go outside and 
go to their work, how can they earn money?  This is one effect on our 

In Maungdaw they are using forced labour all the time.  The army first 
enter the market and grab 50 or 100 people.  They take them to the site 
to build bunkers, military camps, fences, and they tell them to finish the 
work within one or two days but it takes them a week.  They also pick 
up the young boys from the monastery [lay children who help the 
monks to collect alms-food].  We can't raise our voices against their 
activities.  This has become daily routine in our country.

On the west side of the Meyu river, they are starting to build a road 
going directly to Sittwe.  They are using forced labour for this purpose.  
They gave an order for 'volunteers'.  We didn't hear about a prisoner 
camp there.  The prisoner camps are only in Maungdaw area, close to 
the Na Sa Ka headquarters. The area is called Za Ghan Brun.  Prisoners 
have to work breaking rocks and they never loosen their chains. These 
prisoners have a short-term sentence or they are about to be released.  
They come not only from Sittwe but from all over the country.  
According to them, some are political prisoners.  None of them are 
prominent political prisoners.  But some middle political leaders are 
there.  Some political prisoners go to the prisoner labour camps so that 
their sentence will be reduced.

In Maungdaw township, the road to Na Sa Ka headquarters has been 
enlarged.  Villagers from remote areas have to send the stones to the 
town.  Laying stones and tar on the road is done by the soldiers.  The 
army gets money to do the work, but they save this money for their 
camp. The stones come from remote areas of Rathidaung, Buthidaung 
and Mimbra.  If the villagers cannot collect the stones, they need to hire 
labourers with their own money.  They have to dig 10 x 10 x  10 feet of 
stones.  Each village has to dig 6 holes, some more, some less.  It 
depends how much bribe money they can pay.  From Mimbra, the army 
carry the stones themselves with a big boat.  They take by force the 
boats from Maungdaw, Mimbra, and other places.  They even took the 
boats of the pilgrims while they were travelling down the river.  They 
stop the boats passing on the river and take them.

They say, "If your wife is dying or if your husband is dying, leave them.  
Finish your work first and then you can organise the funerals."  Even 
the sick people are not spared.  The Buddhist ceremony of November 
had to be stopped because of their building work.  On all the holy days 
of Buddhism, we, the monks, we have to go first to the military camp to 
perform the ceremony for them.  Only after we finish the function there 
can we go and make the ceremony with the people.

They have a project worth 900,000 Kyats for 'border development'.  
They collect this money from the Sittwe traders in the name of border 
development.  When any officer from the army travels from Maungdaw 
to Buthidaung and from Buthidaung to Maungdaw, the people have to 
give money for their fuel.  The Jeeps are military vehicles, not people's 
vehicles.  And the people also have to give food, everything they need.  
Even the launches are taken from the people and the people can't go 
anywhere.  We are suffering economically because the traders can't 
move.  When the high officers come to play games, they ask the people 
to bring them beer and they demand the Arakanese people to cook their 
traditional food for them.  People have to provide everything for them.  
They tell us that they want to eat our traditional food but we have to 
prepare it and bring everything to their camps.  Sometimes, military 
officers say they want to meet with the Buddhist monks.  They demand 
the people to prepare things so they can donate these to the monks.  
Usually the Buddhist people can afford to give 100 or 200 Kyats as 
donation from their pockets at the temple.  These officers, they give 
20,000 or 30,000 Kyats to the monastery but we know this is not from 
their pockets.  They demand all this money from the people.  Also,  
some military informers cheat the people.  They collect money in the 
name of their Major or commander but keep the money for themselves.

The new trade road to Bangladesh [the recently opened Maungdaw-
Teknaf road] is totally controlled by Na Sa Ka.  Na Sa Ka even runs 
one restaurant in Maungdaw.  The river boat traffic is completely in the 
hands of Na Sa Ka.  They confiscate motor launches and other boats to 
carry material and people and to prepare their roads and their buildings.  
Some motor launch owners were forced to sell their launch or to give it 
to Na Sa Ka. Now these boats have been put on auction.  The Na Sa 
Ka commander-in-chief and his second commander are posted in 
Arakan for two years, then they are transferred.  By the time they leave, 
they are as if they were winners of the lottery!  Military officers are 
loyal to higher officials.  They know all about it.  SLORC will have to 
leave power one day or another.  So money is everything for them.  
They are not so interested in power but in money, because they have no 
confidence in SLORC.

To start a new business, people have to deposit one million Kyat in the 
bank [so the money can be taken by SLORC / Na Sa Ka if the owner 
doesn't pay them their cut].  Na Sa Ka also takes people's land. They 
build houses, offices, buildings for themselves but they also occupy land 
for their families.  They are doing like this.  Even to the poor people 
who are living just by fishing with their small canoes, Na Sa Ka come 
and demand tax for the boat.  Those who are close to the Naf river to 
Bangladesh [the Naf River forms the border] have to give money to Na 
Sa Ka.  Even the smugglers have to pay them off.  They even seize 
goods from the traders who are trading legally and who pay their taxes 
in Maungdaw and Buthidaung.  The traders are losing their capital and 
becoming bankrupt.  Also, many people who owned food stalls lost 
everything because of Na Sa Ka.  They got some money from Japan or 
Norway to start their businesses again but land, shops and everything 
are in the hands of Na Sa Ka.  Even the jungle is occupied by Na Sa 
Ka, so we don't even have firewood for cooking.

SLORC is still relocating villagers now.  They give a small field, about 
one acre for 5 families, for paddy cultivation and one cow for 3 
families.  This is not a sufficient compensation for the villagers who 
have lost everything.  What can they do with that?  [In a normal 
village, each family will have at least 2-3 acres of paddy field.]  Now 
their lives become very hard.  They have to catch crabs and some fish to 
sell at the market to make a little money, just to live hand-to-mouth.  In 
Mrauk U area, the army completely destroyed a Muslim village and 
built a military camp.  They moved all the Muslims to Buthidaung and 
Maungdaw township and they scattered them around.  Before they 
destroyed the village, they promised them they will give land for 
cultivation, compensation for their houses and money to start 
businesses.  But they never gave them anything.  The village name was 
Pa Ring Kala Ro and this happened last year [1994].  Some of them 
escaped because they were starving.  They promised them land, cows, 
everything but where can the government get land and cows for them?  
The military had to build a bridge in Kyauk Taw area and they wanted 
to relocate one Muslim village for that purpose.  But later, they changed 
their decision after taking money [for the bridge] from the villagers.  
Now they have decided to build the bridge at another place nearer to the 
military camp, because there are Rakhine and Muslim insurgents in the 

The people get power supply only one time in 4 days up to 9 pm.  The 
military get it all night.  When Na Sa Ka require fuel, they requisition all 
the fuel.  When Khin Nyunt's wife visited Maungdaw, they didn't 
provide any power supply in the town and they said that there was not 
enough fuel [Khin Nyunt is Secretary-1 of SLORC and head of military 
intelligence; his wife is head of the "Maternal & Child Health and 
Welfare Organization", which is used for SLORC media PR and is 
partly supported by UNICEF].  During the religious ceremonies, 
especially for the full moon of September and November, there was not 
enough kerosene to set up the lamps.  We didn't dare complain about it 
to the high officials.  If we complain to them, we will face lots of 
troubles with the local authorities.  That's why nobody dares complain 
to the higher authorities.

They are building a new hotel on the graveyard in Maungdaw, and for 
this they have moved the graveyard.  They explained that the graveyard 
was in the middle of the town, and this would not look good to the 
visitors.  Now, the government has projects all over Burma and they are 
relocating cemeteries everywhere. They can even move pagodas and 
monasteries. In every town, SLORC is building one hotel.  In Sittwe, 
they already built the "Sittwe Hotel".  Now they are building one in 

At present, all the commodities prices are rocketting but the government 
announced that they have no responsibility in this since all the 
businesses have already been privatised.  They say inflation is the 
people's fault. When the SLORC trade minister visited the shrimp 
farming area, the owners told him their opinion: "The government gives 
us a very low price.  We need higher prices.  We cannot sell at a price 
which doesn't even cover our expenditure.  We will be forced to close 
our shrimp farms." [Despite SLORC's claims of privatisation, 
companies cannot form without their involvement and most primary 
commodity producers are forced to sell only to SLORC at SLORC 
prices.]  Then the trade minister promised to arrange a better price and 
went back to Rangoon.  But later Na Sa Ka came, interfered and forced 
them all to sell at the lowest price.  Their radio propaganda says one 
thing but they are doing different things and the people are suffering a 
lot, more than previously.

Now SLORC is secretly drawing a constitution without any 
participation from the various States [at the 'National Convention'].  
This is not acceptable to us and this is illegal. There is no real 
representative from our political organisations, ALD and NLD [Arakan 
League for Democracy & National League for Democracy].  These 
organisations exist but they have been banned.  One representative of 
Arakan State at the National Convention is Tha San Hla.  He is from 
Kyauk Taw and belongs to Aung San Suu Kyi's party [NLD].  The two 
others are from Sittwe and they are from the Mro Khami party.  They 
are not Arakanese, they are from ethnic groups in Arakan.  SLORC is 
aware that they don't know anything about politics, so they choose them 
to use them as puppets.  SLORC came to Gree Chaung village and took 
two doctors and some government officials and sent them as people's 
representatives and labour representatives to the National Convention.  
Now the people are suffering a lot because they have no more doctors.  
Still now, there is not a single doctor in that village.  Until the 
completion of the National Convention they can't come back to their 
duties.  How many months or years it will take, we don't know!

Q:  Do the Muslims repatriated from Bangladesh get their land and 
property back?  [Referring to the 300,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled 
a SLORC religious pogrom in 1991-92 to Bangladesh, 250,000 of 
whom have now been forcibly repatriated to Arakan by Bangladeshi 
authorities in cooperation with UNHCR and SLORC]

A:  I don't know.  But UNHCR is there and have some projects for 
their welfare such as wells, etc. and construction of new roads.  Rakhine 
people also need wells, but when they submit a request, Na Sa Ka 
refuse it and tell UNHCR that Rakhines don't need them.  Previously, 
during BSPP government [Burmese Socialist Programme Party, Ne 
Win's 1974-88 regime], there were three kinds of citizenships: full, 
naturalised and associated [these were used to make ethnic and 
religious minorities into second- and third-class citizens].  Now, they 
have cancelled all that.  They may start again after the completion of the 
National Convention.  Then they must hold general elections.  The 
present government is executing the previous socialist plan.  Now, 
SLORC is starting to set up industries, commercial companies, bridges, 
etc., but actually that was the plan of BSPP.  During the BSPP, the 
Muslims were registered as Muslims on their NRC [National 
Registration Card] but now they want to be registered as Rohingyas.  
But the SLORC rejected this.  Then the Muslim community 
demonstrated against SLORC's decision.  The meaning of "Rohingya", 
the SLORC don't know it.  When they ask the Muslims the meaning, 
they also don't know.  We are known as Rohon in Islamic countries, as 
Arakanese in Europe, as Rakhine in Burma and as Moghs in 
Bangladesh and Pakistan.  Now the Rohingyas claim our name as theirs 
without even knowing about that.  The Muslim demand is excessive, I 
think.  They can demand to be citizens of Arakan by birth and as 
Muslims.  That's enough.  [This explanation of his views has been 
included here because it reflects a common attitude among Rakhines, 
an anti-Muslim sentiment which has often been exploited by SLORC 
and the BSPP.]

UNHCR started building their offices in 1993.  They built them 
themselves without the help of the government.  They have an 
agreement with SLORC.  Both are trying to get back the refugees from 
Bangladesh by saying that the situation is good now and that they will 
provide everything they need.  Most of the refugees already came back.  
Some are still remaining in Bangladesh. Now UNHCR is doing what 
the Muslim people say.  They are creating more tension between the 
Muslim and Rakhine communities.

UNHCR gives them 500 Kyats for a family of 3 or 1,000 Kyats for a 
family of 4 or more.  At the reception centre, the government gives 
them rice, oil and some food [this is donated by UNHCR but 
distributed by Myanmar Relief Dept].  Whether they give them money 
or not, I don't know.  They receive all the things from UNHCR.  Now 
they have decided to give education to Muslim women and men, 
especially for the Burmese language.  UNHCR is looking for teachers to 
teach them.  I don't believe they will succeed because every village has 
their own primary school run by the government but none of the 
Muslim girls go there to study.  They have their own school to learn the 
Koran in Arabic and they don't learn Burmese.  But the government 
have a law that all the citizens of Burma should learn the Burmese 
language and must be literate.

UNHCR also built their offices on people's land.  The people demanded 
compensation from UNHCR officials.  They had to approach them 
secretly because of SLORC. The officials gave a proposal and the 
landowners had to accept it but it was not a good price.  When the 
owner demanded 100,000 Kyats, he only got 10,000 Kyats.  Maybe the 
government takes the compensation money from UNHCR, we don't 
know, but we know that UNHCR also takes people's land. The people 
who lost their land are furious with UNHCR.  We can't complain to 
UNHCR.  We can't complain to the government.  Where should we 
complain?  SLORC take our land, UNHCR also take our land.  When 
the government allocated land to UNHCR, why did UNHCR take it?  
They should know.  They are deployed here to bring peace and people's 
welfare under the banner of peace.  Presently, that's what the Arakanese 
people are asking themselves.  The landowners have demanded 100,000 
Kyats and UNHCR haven't met their demands yet.

In Maungdaw, we have an irrigation system with pumps.  If we use it, 
we can make a second paddy crop in the year.  But UNHCR pump the 
water from there and now the people don't have enough water for a 
second cultivation.  In the dry season, we usually got 100 baskets of 
paddy but now only 30 baskets.  We can't grow a second crop because 
we don't have enough water.  UNHCR asked the people how much 
money they need to pay for compensation for the paddy.  They offered 
5,000 Kyats - not per year, only one time.  But we are lucky to get at 
least something.  [At current prices, 5,000 Kyats is only worth about 
12 tins of paddy, normal crop for about 1/3 acre, and the rice 
shortage continues to grow worse.]

SLORC is using forced labour to build roads, because they promised 
UNHCR they would build roads and bridges so they can travel more 
easily.  But so far SLORC has only Maungdaw bridge to show for it.  
They called the bridge Shwe Za after a [Rakhine] king.  It is at Wee Ma 
La village and it is only a temporary bridge.  They have lots of projects 
to build bridges.

UNHCR is digging wells and building roads on people's own land.  
They have no plans and we are compelled to see that without being able 
to complain.  Some are on Rakhine land, some on Muslim land.  They 
don't distinguish between the two.  But for the labour, they only choose 
Muslims, no Rakhines.  All the construction contracts are made with 
Muslims.  Some Rakhines are employed in low jobs, such as carpenters.  
They started a sewing training for the Muslim women and the trainer 
was a Rakhine woman.  She is the only one.  That was the only training, 
but it has stopped now.  They say they are helping people raise 
chickens, but only on a very small scale.  People can't make a living with 
this kind of business.  They give only 500 Kyats to start it.  One 
bamboo is 5 Kyats each, so this is very little money indeed.  [One 
breeding-size chicken costs over 100 Kyats.]  UNHCR is offering jobs 
and people stop their own work to work for them but it doesn't give 
them enough income.  One worker earns 1,500 Kyats [per month - a 
family cannot be supported at this rate].  For cooking and washing 
clothes, they pay 400 or 500 Kyats [per month].  This is not only for 
Rakhines, for Muslims too.  People thought that they would earn a lot 
of money working for UNHCR. We see UNHCR staff with their 
houses, with their cars, with their generator but we don't know what 
they are really doing.  They bring in their petrol themselves, also their 
timber and stones.  They don't use anything from Maungdaw.

Q:  Do you know of any people killed by SLORC in the area?

A:  How can I find out?  UNHCR should try to find out.  They came 
here for that reason, to look after the people's welfare.  But they are not 
able to find out such things because they are not active.  Some people in 
the jungle might have been killed under landslides [while doing forced 
labour] but I don't know.  This is daily routine: punching, kicking, 
beating and abusing. SLORC arrests smugglers and legal traders alike, 
whenever they like.  How can I answer?  UNHCR is working here and 
they are receiving salaries.  But they fail to hear about it because they 
are neglecting their duties.

Q:  The Chinese government made a request to SLORC to borrow the 
Mahamuni Buddha image from Arakan for religious ceremonies.  Is this 

A:  We don't know whether they requested it or not.  This is an 
invaluable thing for us and a symbol of peace and prosperity in Arakan.  
In the past, when the Burmese came to Mrauk U to take the Mahamuni 
Buddha, the people refused and they failed to take it away.  But they 
declared that they took it and built a raft with gold and silver.  The raft 
was put on a ship and they sailed to Rangoon declaring that they had 
taken the Buddha image.  On the way, when the ship was in Sittwe 
harbour, some people were strangely killed on board.  Now the 
Burmese have one in Mandalay [it is unclear whether the original is in 
Arakan or Mandalay - many believe the Burmese stole the original and 
took it to Mandalay, then sent a copy back to Arakan.]  But they say 
the Chinese want the Buddha from Arakan.  But we don't know if it is 
true that the Chinese really want it or if it is SLORC who want it.  We 
believe in our astrologists.  Maybe SLORC is trying to change the 
"yettara" [good luck] of the Arakanese people.  That's why they took it 
in the past, and that is probably the reason why they come to ask for it 
this time too.  And they use the Chinese as a pretext.  After one month, 
Intelligence officers came to Sittwe and investigated to find out who had 
opposed them taking the Buddha image.  They made a report stating the 
Arakanese people are starting a revolution and were trying to 

We had to give lists of all ancient Buddha images to SLORC. And 
SLORC told us that if we lose any of them, we will have to pay a fine.  
[The list is most likely because SLORC wants to confiscate some of 
them for tourist museums or sites in Burman cities.]  We monks, if we 
don't obey the government's orders, we will also go to jail.  The SLORC 
is building a Buddha museum near the Youth Sports Complex in Sittwe.  
They are collecting by several means ancient images and objects from 
the monks and from the people to take to the museum.  If  we discover 
precious ancient objects from Arakan, they claim it is from Burma.  
They have been digging at the ancient site of Vesaly and we believe that 
they found things there.  But SLORC have yet to show what they 
found.  SLORC have decided to carry out research with foreign 
archaeologists.  But they haven't started yet.  SLORC told the Buddhist 
monks: "If you lose any of the ancient Buddha images, it will be your 
responsibility."  So some monks were afraid of this and handed over all 
the images to SLORC.  To protect our traditions, I will never hand them 
over.  We can't hand over our history.  Some local authorities, 
collaborating with SLORC, even threatened the monks saying that in 
case of loss, it will not only be the responsibility of the monks but also 
of the worshippers.  They put pressure on the monks to hand over the 
Buddha images to SLORC.  SLORC raided some Buddhist temples in 
Mandalay.  They admitted that they stole some Buddha images.  They 
might do the same thing in Arakan State that they did in Mandalay.  
When they come to the monastery, they don't come with archaeologists 
and experts.  Just with soldiers.  According to them, they come on 
archaeologists' recommendations.  But the archaeologists have no idea 
of the army activities in this.  SLORC said to us, monks, that they are 
sent by the National Historical Institute of Rangoon.  But this is not 

SLORC formed Buddhist Monks organisations in the townships, 
districts and villages.  The monks have to obey their orders, whether 
they are willing to join or not.  Buddhist monks can't do anything 
without the permission of  SLORC.  For example, building extensions 
or new buildings in the monasteries are only allowed with the 
authorisation of the township or district Sanghas [monks organisation - 
the Sangha is a major component of Buddhist tradition, but in Burma 
SLORC has taken over control of them].  If we approach them for 
permission and if we fail to satisfy them, we will never be granted any 
permission from them.  If we don't keep good relations with SLORC 
officers, with village and township LORC authorities and with Na Sa 
Ka, we can't do anything.

NAME:    "Ko Htun Win"    SEX: M     AGE: 38      Burman Buddhist
NAME:    "Daw Than"       SEX: F     AGE: 52      Burman Buddhist

ADDRESS: Amarapura Township, Mandalay Division

Q:  Hong long did you work at the Mandalay Palace moat?

"Ko Htun Win":  I worked three times there.  First, we had to clean 
the site all around the moat.  The second time we had to clear all the 
mud and weeds, and the third time we had to take out the mud.  We 
had to load the mud on trucks.  The mud was very soft, so we had to 
load it little by little on the trucks.  They dispose of it near Mandalay 
zoo, at the foot of Mandalay Hill.  They also dump some at various 
monastery compounds.  The monks requested the army officers to 
unload the mud in their monastery compound [to level the ground]. 
Some people were playing tricks.  For example, a group of 30 workers 
had to load 6 trucks with mud but they would bribe the soldier who was 
supervising the work so that the soldiers would register more truck loads 
than they had actually filled.  Sometimes we'd pay 3 or 4 Kyats each.  
Sometimes, 5 Kyats each person. If a girl in a group is familiar with a 
soldier, this group gets favoured.  So sometimes we hired prostitutes to 
join our group.

Thirty people were assigned to one truck.  If the group included both 
men and women,  the number was 30.  If there were only men in the 
group, the number was 20.  They had to load 5 or 6 truckloads of mud 
everyday.  If the rain was heavy, the work was suspended.

"Daw Than":   We had to work on the rainy days too, as long as the 
road was not too slippery for driving their trucks.

"Ko Htun Win":  We had to provide one person from each family, 
and that person had to work for 10 days.  It had nothing to do with the 
number of people in the family.  If you could not send anyone, you had 
to pay 600 Kyats.  If you can't go and you have no money, you have to 
sell your belongings.  Their rules are very strict.  The rule is:  "If you 
cannot go for work, you have to pay.  If you cannot pay, you have to go 
to work."  We have no choice.  We cannot do anything about it.  
Sometimes some understanding local authorities help us to reason with 
the SLORC authorities.  Sometimes it works.

We had to bring our own food and tools.  The government provides 
money for the workers, but the Township level officers eat up all that 
money [i.e. nobody is paid].

Now, they are using only prisoners.  Prisoners and soldiers.  People said 
they were from Mandalay jail.  Some are shackled, some not.  They 
shackle those who are notorious.  It depends on their sentences.  They 
dare not force the political prisoners to work.  They use only criminals.

Q:  Did you have to work in road construction or road repair work?

"Ko Htun Win":    Ko M--- and Ma N--- who came together with us 
had to work on the road construction in Amarapura.  That construction 
was supervised by the Civil Works Department.  I did not have to work 
on that.


The following information has been received from various sources 
from Chin State and Sagaing Division.

			     CHIN STATE

"Border Area Development" projects continue to create more and more 
forced labour.  The Pakokku - Gangaw - Kalemyo railway is mostly 
completed but labour is still continuing on it in some areas.  There are 
also hydroelectric projects and road projects using forced labour.

Religious persecution is a problem in Chin State.  The majority of Chins 
are Christians, but SLORC is reportedly attempting to divide them by 
coercing many to become Buddhists. Chin sources report that in Than 
Tlang township, 10 percent of the villagers have converted to Buddhism 
because the Buddhist villagers are never called for porterage or labour.  
Buddhists can buy rice at a cheaper price: 300 Kyats per Pyi for 
Christians and 100 Kyats for Buddhists.  Sunday church services are 
not generally disturbed, but many villagers have been caught by SLORC 
and taken as porters upon leaving the church.  As a result, many 
villagers are now afraid to go to church.  In some villages, SLORC are 
using the church compound as an army camp.  There have also been 
reports of SLORC using the promise of education to take Christian 
Chin children from their families, then send them to monasteries and 
force them to become Buddhist novices.  Government schoolbooks are 
sent to Buddhist monastery schools instead of government schools.  
There are also reports that SLORC is resettling some Burman Buddhists 
from the Irrawaddy Delta into Chin areas in Tamu Township.

In the whole region,  villagers are used as porters and human shields 
among the moving Army columns.  SLORC officers take many people 
as human shields around them to protect them.  In all of Chin State 
there are only two all-season roads, from Hakha to Falam and Kalemyo 
to Tiddim, and two dry-season roads, from Hakha to Matupi and 
Matupi towards the eastern plains.  Everywhere else, SLORC troops 
always call hundreds of porters at a time to carry their things.  Every 
month, each village is ordered to bring pigs, chickens, and whatever 
they want to their camps.  Relatives of CNA [Chin National Army] 
soldiers are constantly watched and suspected.  Their letters are opened, 
and if SLORC finds a letter from their son they are arrested.  In Hriphi 
village, Than Tlang township, one army camp is to be built shortly [with 
forced labour on confiscated land].  In September / October 1995 
there was a serious cholera outbreak in Leiled village, Falam Township, 
and at least 70 people died because no health care whatsoever is 


Gangaw - Kalemyo Railway:

Kalemyo (also called Kalay or spelled Kalaymyo) is in Sagaing Division 
just east of the Chin State border.  SLORC has a major forced labour 
project building a railway to Kalemyo from Gangaw (120 km. / 75 mi. 
to the south) in northern Magwe Division.  This is part of the Chaung U 
- Pale - Yesagyo - Pakokku - Gangaw - Kalemyo railway project, a total 
length of 500 km. (312 miles).  There are plans to continue the line in 
future north from Kalemyo to Tamu, which is at the border with India's 
Manipur State.  Chaung U is 80 km. (50 mi.) west of Mandalay and 
linked to Mandalay by rail, so this line would establish a rail link 
between Mandalay and the Indian border.  However, SLORC plans to 
do the entire project with forced labour.  So far only the Chaung U - 
Pale and Kalemyo - Nat Chaung sections are in operation.  However, 
much of the rest is finished but waiting for some major bridges to 
connect various sections.

Along the Gangaw - Kalemyo section, most of the forced labour has 
been done by Chin villagers.  Work is still continuing toward the 
Gangaw end.  The 22-mile (35 km.) segment from Kalemyo to Nat 
Chaung was officially opened on May 3, 1995.  The opening ceremony 
at Kalemyo railway station cost 4,300,000 Kyat, including 30,000 Kyat 
just for the meal honouring SLORC Railway Minister U Win Sein, 
despite the fact that none of the labourers on the entire stretch of 
railway were ever paid.  SLORC responded to the Nov. 1995 report of 
UN Special Rapporteur Yozo Yokota by claiming to have paid the 
workers as follows:  "Chaung U - Ma Gyi Boke sector and Pakokku - 
Monywa sector: 8.29 million Kyats;   Pakokku - Gangaw - Kalay 
sector: 30 million Kyats".

Construction on this line began in March 1990.  It crosses mostly flat 
farmland, and paddy fields were destroyed without compensation.  In all 
the villages of Kalemyo township, one person per household had to 
contribute labour.  They had to bring their own food and their own 
tools.  Each group of 10 or 20 villagers were guarded by 3 or 4 soldiers.  
Each group had to build 1/8 falong [i.e. furlong, so 1/8 falong = 28 
yards] length of embankment, up to 30 feet high and 20 feet wide.   
The villagers had to dig the ground within only 30 feet of the track, so 
sometimes they had to dig quite deeply and there are reports of some 
people who died because of the ground collapsing. Each group has to 
complete 60 feet in one week.  In Kalemyo township, there are two 
bulldozers owned by the government.  The people can sometimes use 
them, but only if they themselves provide the diesel to operate them.

If absent from the work, the fine was 1,200 to 1,500 Kyats per person.  
The distance between the railroad and the villagers' homes was so far 
that the villagers had to stay and sleep on the worksite.  They could go 
back to their villages on Sundays to get their food from their family for 
the next week.  They had to be back on Monday morning.  Most 
families went to work 6 or 7 times on the railway over the past five 
years, each time 2 or 3 weeks to finish their assignment.  Villagers were 
also ordered to prepare gravel for the trackbed in their homes.  Each 
family had to provide 10 feet x 10 feet x 10 feet (total 1,000 cubic feet) 
of gravel.

Starting on 23 April 1995, the Kalemyo - Nat Chaung line went into 
use, but only with a Hino TE21 truck being used as a railway engine (it 
is mounted on a special frame with railway wheels).  It makes the return 
trip twice a day and can carry a maximum of about 60 passengers.  One 
way fare is 5 Kyat.  In July 1995, some sections were already damaged 
because of the rain and the Kalemyo - Nat Chaung service was 
interrupted.  SLORC again ordered people from each household to 
prepare more gravel and to go for forced labour repairing these 

SLORC plans to commence construction on the Kalemyo - Tamu 
section of railway (another 120 km. / 75 mi. to the north) soon, as they 
see this as an important trade link with India.  In Tamu town, people 
who live along the main road have been ordered to build brick houses or 
be evicted.  They have been given 3 years to do so, possibly timed to 
coincide with the expected completion of the railway.

Kalemyo township:

SLORC is building the "Ye Chaung" Hydro electric power project near 
Ta Han village, 30 miles southwest of Kalemyo in Kalemyo Township.  
Villagers and about 500 prisoners are being used as forced labour in the 
construction.  It is a medium sized project, estimated cost 70 million 
Kyat, started in 1990 and scheduled for completion in March 1996.

Villagers from 40 village tracts have been doing forced labour: 37 on 
the railway and 3 on the power project.  Also, villagers are being forced 
to break rocks on road construction, upgrading and extending the 
existing dirt road from Kalemyo to Gangaw, parallel to the railway line.  
The project is using only manpower, no machinery.  There are reports 
of 2 dead and 5 wounded by accidents on this project, with no 
compensation paid.

On 2 May 1995, 94 families of Aung Tha Sa quarter in Kalemyo were 
forced to move to a remote area and build a village there at their own 
expense.  The families of Major Aung Khin, U Ba Ohn (ex-chairman of 
the SLORC Regional Administrative Council) and U Ngwe Thein (an 
Inspector at Kalemyo police station) were paid compensation by 
SLORC even though their houses had not been torn down.

In Kalemyo town, prices continue to escalate causing hardship: rice is 
80 Kyat per pyi, pork is 180 Kyat per viss, chicken 250 Kyat / viss, fish 
300 Kyat / viss, and sugar 150 Kyat / viss [1 viss = 1.6 kg.; 1 pyi is 8 
small milk-tins, weighing about 2 kg.].  Most of the people are farmers 
and average family income is 1,000 Kyat per month.  Furthermore, 
farmers are forced to supply 192 pyi [24 big tins, about 16 kg. each] of 
paddy per acre to SLORC at only 15 Kyat per pyi.

Monywa township:

Four miles away from Monywa there is construction of a heavy artillery 
military camp and about 500 acres of farmland have been confiscated.  
A 13-mile road is being constructed with forced labour from Monywa 
to Ah Myint village.  Ah Myint is the native village of SLORC Trade 
Minister Lt. Gen. Htun Kyi.  Between November 1994 and February 
1995, the Thay dam in Monywa township was expanded.  Every family 
in the area had to go for 2 months of forced labour.  Only one adult per 
family was allowed to stay home.

Kuki Villages, Sagaing Division:

In Tamu Township, Mo Leik District, Sagaing Division, Kuki villagers 
[Kuki is considered a subgroup of Chin] are regularly forced to 
contribute labour and their bullock-carts for "border area development" 
projects such as road construction.  There have also been reports that 
some villagers have been forced to take their bullock carts to help 
SLORC officers smuggle teak logs across from India.  In one such 
incident on 24 January 1995, Lt. Col. Win Kyi of Infantry Battalion 
#50 forced 28 villagers and bullock carts from Nam Monta, Htan Ta 
Bin, and Man Maw villages to cross into India to retrieve teak logs.  
Indian forces caught and arrested the entire group.  When the SLORC 
officer asked to be released, they released him and his soldiers but 
detained the villagers at Moreh in Manipur.

Naga Villages, Sagaing Division:

In Laeshi and Lahai Townships in Sagaing Division, SLORC has 
reportedly been continuously forcing villages to provide recruits for the 
Army.  Villages which fail to provide the specified number of recruits 
must pay 20,000 Kyat per recruit.  Since 1993, SLORC has encouraged 
people to enroll their children in a youth organisation called Ye Nyunt 
by promising that all members will have access to basic and higher 
education.  All those who enroll are then taken away and forced to join 
the Army.

Forced labour of villagers and convicts is being used to build roads from 
Homelin to Thamanthi and from Thamanthi to Laeshi.  Soldiers have 
also reportedly been forcing Christian Nagas to build monasteries and 
pagodas in every town and village in the Naga Hills.  SLORC troops 
patrolling Naga areas force villagers to provide all their food.  When 
they want pork they force villagers to hand over their pigs and only pay 
one tenth of the proper price.  Village heads are often left having to pay 
the difference to the owners of the animals.



In 1991-92 SLORC mounted a religious pogrom against Muslim 
Rohingyas in Arakan State.  It is unknown how many were massacred, 
but at least 300,000 fled to Bangladesh to become refugees.  At least 
200,000 of them have now been forced back to Burma by Bangladeshi 
authorities with the support of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner 
for Refugees].  UNHCR made agreements with SLORC and the 
Bangladesh government (but not with any refugee representatives) to 
support this forced repatriation and tell the world it is "voluntary" as 
long as they can get a monitoring presence on both sides of the border.  
They now have that presence.  On the Bangladesh side, UNHCR 
cancelled the process of interviewing refugees to find out if they want to 
go back, and instead holds mass "information sessions" encouraging 
refugees to go back.  At these sessions they do not mention forced 
labour, as they consider it to be an isolated occurrence.  In its June 1995 
Bulletin, UNHCR stated that SLORC had promised them to use 
returnees for forced labour only 4 days per month, and later said that 
SLORC had promised not to use returnees for forced labour in their 
first 2 months back home (i.e. while they still have their returnee 
allowance money to pay off the troops).  However, there are reports 
that returnees are being used for up to 5 days per week of forced labour 
on road construction and other duties in the north of Buthidaung 
Township.  UNHCR still does not mention this in its "information 
sessions".  The vast majority who express personal fears of persecution 
upon return are rejected as not having "valid reason" to be afraid.  
Furthermore, refugees being sent back to Burma are not being told that 
UNHCR will only stay in Arakan for one year after the repatriation (this 
is standard UNHCR policy).  Many are going back with a misguided 
belief that UNHCR plans to remain in Arakan until the situation 
becomes safe and stable.

Now there are still about 50,000 refugees in the camps in Bangladesh.  
Many are there because SLORC, with or without reason, has refused to 
take them or one of their family members back.  UNHCR now plans to 
start splitting up these families in order to cut down the number to 
20,000, sending back anyone SLORC will accept (with the exception of 
the spouse or children of those specifically rejected).  In Asian society, 
breaking up the extended family like this is completely unacceptable.  

In Bangladesh, UNHCR state that they have injected US$3 million into 
local communities.  However, much or most of this money appears to 
have been spent donating 4-wheel drive Land Cruisers to Bangladeshi 
officials and building a large and fancy new building in Cox's Bazaar to 
house the "Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation 
Commissioner".  This impressive building  was  completely paid for by 
UNHCR and inaugurated in December 1995, with most of the refugees 
already repatriated.

In Burma, UNHCR has 14 expatriate staff, but only 4 of these are 
protection officers - the rest are development consultants.  They work 
through SLORC, and people from the area say that most returnees with 
problems would never dare to be seen entering the UNHCR office in 
Maungdaw.  Land was confiscated at only 10 percent of its value to 
build these offices, and villagers nearby have lost their second annual 
rice crop because the irrigation water has been diverted to UNHCR.  In 
response, UNHCR reportedly paid only 5,000 Kyat one-time 
compensation for the farmers - only enough to buy the equivalent of 
one-third of an acre's crop at current prices.  Buddhist Rakhines in the 
area say that UNHCR is fuelling racial tensions by favouring Muslims 
for all jobs and contracts.  Meanwhile, UNHCR is claiming that the 
Rohingyas who fled Burma never owned their own land, and therefore 
should not all expect to have their land returned to them (the return of 
their land was promised to them before their repatriation).  Rohingya 
sources claim that since September - October 1995, SLORC has been 
issuing new identity cards in Arakan State: red ones for Burmans and 
Rakhine Buddhists, which is a full citizenship, and white ones for 
Muslims, which is a provisional ID card stating that the holder is not the 
national of any country.  They report that some Muslims who received 
National Registration Cards between 1955 and 1962 have now had 
these confiscated and replaced with a white card, thus losing their 
citizenship rights.  UNHCR admits that forced relocation of villages for 
military camps and to avoid Rakhine/Muslim clashes has occurred, but 
claim that SLORC has promised to stop doing this.  Both Rohingyas 
and Rakhines have reported that SLORC is forcibly relocating Muslims 
from other townships to Maungdaw and Buthidaung areas, and that 
Buddhists are also being forced to move to border areas.

Some returnees have subsequently fled again to Bangladesh.  Most of 
them go into hiding and don't bother trying to report to UNHCR, but 
some have tried.  UNHCR refuses to discuss them.  Rohingya sources 
report that there are also new refugees and that they also go into hiding 
in the towns.  UNHCR says that some new arrivals have come to their 
office with "false claims" of persecution in Burma.

			    - [END] -