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KHRG: Forced Relocation in Papun Di

Received: (from strider) by igc4.igc.apc.org (8.7.5/Revision: 1.16 ) id PAA11136; Fri, 15 Mar 1996 15:49:33 -0800 (PST)
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 1996 15:49:33 -0800 (PST)
Subject: KHRG: Forced Relocation in Papun District


       An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
		 March 4, 1996     /     KHRG #96-11



SLORC has seriously stepped up its campaign to clear the entire rural 
population out of Papun District and make the entire area a free-fire zone.  
Since December 1995, orders have been issued to every rural village 
under SLORC control from Kyauk Nyat in the north to Ka Dtaing Dtee in 
the south, from the Salween River (the Thai border) in the east to at least 
10 km. west of Papun - an area 50-60 km. north to south and 30 km. east 
to west.  This area is rugged hills dotted with small villages, averaging 10-
50 households (population 50-300) per village.  Estimates are that 100 or 
more villages may be affected.  Every village has been ordered to move 
either to SLORC Army camps surrounding Papun, such as Papun, Kaw 
Boke, Par Haik, or Ka Hee Kyo (all along the Papun - Kyauk Nyat road 
route) or to DKBA headquarters far to the south at Khaw Taw (Myaing 
Gyi Ngu) in Pa'an District.  The orders have all been issued by SLORC.  
Generally a SLORC column enters the village with only a few DKBA 
soldiers accompanying them, and the SLORC officer issues the order.  
Villagers confirm that DKBA never operates in the area by themselves 
anymore - DKBA soldiers only appear in small groups as part of SLORC 
columns.  SLORC units involved in the operation include Light Infantry 
Battalions (LIB) 340, 341, 434, and Infantry Battalion (IB) 5.

There is no apparent logic to which villages have been ordered to Papun 
area and which to Khaw Taw; some villages the furthest from Khaw Taw 
have been ordered to move there, while some much closer to Khaw Taw 
have been ordered to move to military camps near Papun.  The majority 
are being ordered to move to Papun area, where SLORC has allocated 
sites beside military camps for them.  They have been ordered to take all 
their food with them because SLORC says no food will be provided.  
Villagers have been told that they will still be allowed to farm their home 
fields, but they do not believe it and they are probably right, because 
SLORC is trying to make this whole region into a free-fire zone in order to 
cut KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army) supply lines and to block the 
flow of refugees to Thailand.  The relocation sites at military camps will 
almost certainly be used as forced labour camps.  People in them will 
regularly be used as porters, army camp labourers, and probably for 
military forced labour farming for profit.  It appears that the main use of 
the detained population will be as forced labour to work on the Papun - 
Par Haik - Kyauk Nyat car road to give the military access to the border 
area, and to make the 100-km. Papun-Bilin car road into an all-season 
road.  Until now, the Papun-Bilin road has been washed out every 
monsoon season and the villagers are forced to rebuild it every year.  
Making it an all-season road will give the military rainy-season offensive 
capability in the region.  To do this, thousands of men, women, and 
children will be required to smooth the road and break rocks and gravel.

Villagers are also being ordered to move to Khaw Taw, most likely 
because the DKBA needs a civilian population as a source of new recruits.  
Villagers in both Papun and Pa'an Districts, where DKBA is the strongest, 
confirm that no one is joining DKBA anymore because DKBA abuses 
villagers and is "the same as SLORC".
The main deadlines for the move were between 13 and 18 January.  
Thousands of villagers fled their villages before the deadline, because 
SLORC and DKBA said that if they failed to move serious action would be 
taken, such as burning of villages and shooting villagers as "rebels".  Five 
hundred to a thousand arrived in Thailand, and said that all villagers are 
trying to flee rather than obey the orders.  Some are fleeing to Thailand, 
others into the hills, and a few are still trying to hide in their villages 
but run and hide in the forest whenever SLORC is nearby.  Those who fled to 
Thailand say that the way is increasingly difficult, that they can only 
travel at night and sometimes crossing the Papun - Par Haik car road is 
impossible due to SLORC presence.  Along the way, all they saw were 
completely abandoned villages.  They believe that anyone found hiding in 
the forest or en route to Thailand will be executed or arrested as porters.

Hundreds of refugees flowed into refugee camps in mid-January, but then 
the flow suddenly and almost completely stopped, despite the testimony of 
villagers that everyone is trying to flee.  This is a frightening development, 
because it most likely means that SLORC is succeeding in blocking many 
escape routes to the border.  If SLORC follows this up by combing the hills 
for villagers trapped in hiding, the resulting toll in death, torture, and 
rape could be staggering.

The following interviews were conducted by KHRG in refugee camps in 
Thailand in mid-February 1996.  Those interviewed come from 14 
different villages scattered from the north to the south of Papun District, 
and all of them say that all the villages around them were also ordered to 
move.  All of their names have been changed to protect them, and false 
names are indicated by enclosing them in quotation marks.  KNU = Karen 
National Union; Ko Per Baw = 'Yellow Headbands', common Karen name 
for the DKBA (Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army); SLORC = State Law & 
Order Restoration Council.

TOPIC SUMMARY:  Forced relocation, villagers fleeing, SLORC/DKBA 
blocking escape routes to Thailand, burning villages and food supplies 
(Stories #1,5,6,16), killings (#1,6,16), bullet & chillie messages (#1,9), 
conditions at army camp relocation sites (#2), conditions at Khaw Taw 
(#5,7,10),  forced labour as porters, at army camps, on roads, child 
labour (#1,3,12,15), abuse of women (#3,5,10), looting, extortion, 
landmines (#1,2,5).

NAME:    "Pu Tee Ku"     SEX: M    AGE: 60   Karen RC Christian farmer
FAMILY:  Married, 6 children aged 5-25
ADDRESS: Toh Wih Der village, Bu Tho Twp., Papun Dist.   INTERVIEWED: 14/2/96

I've been here about one month, because of SLORC soldiers.  They 
ordered us to be their porters, and some villagers died from landmines when 
they went as porters.  People who didn't go had to hire someone to go in 
their place.  First they would order us to go for 5 days, but then they didn't 
release us.  Sometimes it was 10 days, or sometimes they only released us 
when they got someone to replace us.  The SLORC stays at Ka Hee Kyo 
[northeast of Par Haik camp].  It is 2 hours [walking] from our village.  
They are LIB 434.  Sometimes there are 80-100 soldiers there, sometimes 
300-400.   They also made us work on the roads, like Papun to Bilin and 
Kaw Boke to Par Haik.  We have to go by turns, one group every 5 days 
until the road is finished [these roads have to be rebuilt every year in Nov.-
Feb., after every rainy season].  At least 5 people have to go each time, 
everybody including women, children 10 years old and old men 70 or 80 
years old.  When I was there I had to go, and now my brother still has to go 
- he's only one year older than me.  We have to take our own food and 
sleep at the workplace.  This year they started on January 1st, on the Kaw 
Boke to Par Haik road.  It is an existing road and they are rebuilding it.  
They do it every year.  They also demanded 5 baskets of rice from Toh 
Wih Der, and money for porters ["porter fees", which are not given to 

They sent letters 3 times ordering us to move.  They sent a letter along with 
a chillie and a bullet [a standard SLORC message meaning we will kill you 
and burn your village if you don't obey].  It ordered us to move to Par 
Haik, near their military camp.  Some villages have to move to Papun and 
some to Kaw Boke, around their army camps, and after that they will burn 
and destroy all the villages.  That letter came one month and 10 days ago.  
It said that within 10 days we had to arrive at Par Haik military camp, even 
that we should arrive tomorrow if possible.  But before that 10 days was up 
we came to Thailand.  After 5 days, we left.  

There are 50 houses in Toh Wih Der.  We all left the village, but some ran 
into the forest and some came to Thailand.  About 30 families arrived in 
Thailand.  As for the people in the forest, they hide and some still try to 
tend their fields and animals.  If SLORC leaves the village the villagers go 
and tend their farms, but if SLORC stays around they have to cut new 
fields and plant in the hills.  They don't know where else to go.  Nobody 
went to the SLORC place.  We asked the SLORC, "If we go to Par Haik 
will you give us food?" and they said we have to take our own food to the 
camp.  We know that if we stay there they will demand everything from us 
that they want at any time.  SLORC will take people as porters, and they 
will order them to show where other villagers are hiding.  If SLORC finds 
people hiding in the forest they will arrest them.  All the villages around 
us have been ordered to move.  Toh Wih Der and Baw Khaw Der were 
ordered to move to Par Haik, and Saw Bweh Der village was ordered to 
move to Kaw Boke village.

Before this year, they only asked us for labour.  Last year they killed two 
villagers from Toh Wih Der:   Pa Tweh, 60 years old, and Kyaw Dee, 40 
years old.  Also, one man from Toh Wih Der died as a porter last year, Klo 
Htoo Mu.  He was 40 years old, married with 4 children.  He died in the 
fighting.  Now his family lives in the forest.  In our village they always 
took the headman away and asked him questions before releasing him.  Other 
villages like Baw Khaw Der, Saw Bweh Der and Kaw Wih promised to do 
everything SLORC wants, so their people didn't suffer as much.  [Note: 
these villages have also now been ordered to move.]  In our village, after 
they killed people and took all our animals last year we asked permission to 
work with them [they promised to do everything as demanded], but then 
they started ill-treating us again.  The situation just got worse and worse 
until we had to flee to Thailand.

I have seen DKBA in the village.  They came at night and killed the village 
tract headman last year.  His name was Pa Maw Heh, he was 50 years old 
with 4 children.  I don't know why they killed him, maybe they didn't like 
him.  He was a Christian.  In Toh Wih Der 10 households are Baptist, 10 
are RC [Roman Catholic] and the other 30 are Buddhist.  Now there are 
only SLORC around [no DKBA], and they stay in their camp not far from 
the village.

It took us 2 days to walk here.  It was not easy - we had to come secretly at 
night.  They are trying to stop people from coming to Thailand.  But if the 
situation keeps getting worse, I think everyone will come here.  If you go 
back there, you have to do everything for SLORC.  I know that they won't 
ever stop giving trouble to villagers, so I won't ever go back to my village.
NAME:    "Pa Bleh Htoo"    SEX: M    AGE: 35          Karen Buddhist farmer
FAMILY:   Married, 1 child aged 10
ADDRESS:  Oo Thu Kloh village, Bu Tho Twp., Papun Dist. INTERVIEWED: 14/2/96

I have been here for one month, because there was so much trouble in the 
village.  When SLORC said "We'll take you as a porter for 3 days", then 
they always took us for at least 5 or 10 days.  They made me carry one big 
basket of rice.  When I was tired and couldn't walk anymore, they showed 
me a pistol and pointed it at me, so I was afraid and had to do everything 
they ordered.  We had to go work at their camp every month, by turns.  We 
also had to build and guard the road as they ordered us to do.  It is an old 
road that they are rebuilding, from Oo Thu Kloh to Dat Kway.  It's part of 
the main road to Papun.  Ten or fifteen people have to go, but my village is 
very small so this means everyone must go.  There are only 18 houses in 
my village.  Even though they said we only had to go for 5 days, we had to 
go for one complete month.  They also took all our animals and our 
belongings.  I have only one shirt left, and I'm wearing that now.  They took 
all my things.  When they came to the village they shot pigs, chicken, cattle 
and buffalos.  They are still giving us more trouble, until I couldn't suffer it 
anymore and I left the village.  Last month we had to follow them to their 
camp and on the way the soldiers were wounded by a mine.  The soldiers 
said, "You put this mine on the path!"  I tried to appease them and said, "I 
didn't do it, do not kill me", and they pointed a pistol at me.  I was really 
frightened, but my life was spared this time.

There are only a few DKBA in our village.  They ordered us to move to 
Khaw Taw but nobody went there.  They came back again and made 
trouble, but nobody listened to them.  Then later SLORC ordered us to 
move to Kaw Boke.  That was last month.  They sent a message that said if 
we villagers didn't move they would come and force us very brutally and 
take all our belongings.  All the villagers went.  At Kaw Boke there was a 
fence around us and we had to do their labour every day.  SLORC didn't 
release anyone to go home when we were there in their camp.  After 
considering things, we all decided to flee from them to different places.  
They ordered me to carry water for them three times every morning.  On 
the third time I went right across the river, and they yelled at me, "Don't 
run away, come here!"  Then I ran away.  I went home just for two nights, 
then I left for Thailand.

All the villages around us were also ordered to move, but if we stay at their 
place [the SLORC camp] we can't survive, so we decided to flee to 
Thailand.  Now ours is just an abandoned village.  The main reason is 
because of the suffering from the relocation order.  Also, after one family 
flees the others have to as well, or else SLORC will give trouble to those 
who stay [interrogating them and blaming them for the escape of the missing 
families].  Now if they see anyone go back to our village, SLORC will take 
them as a slave until they die.
NAME:    "Naw Paw Lah"     SEX: F    AGE: 17          Karen Buddhist farmer
FAMILY:  Single, 7 brothers and sisters
ADDRESS: Meh Thaw Kee village, Bu Tho Twp., Papun Dist.  INTERVIEWED: 16/2/96

I came here with my whole family.  We have been here over 20 days.  We 
came because we have trouble in our village.  SLORC orders us to go as 
porters, but there are only girls in my family - except my father, but he's 
too old now.  So I myself have to go.  They take all the men and women as 
porters.  I went all the time.  I've had to go since 5 years ago, when I was 
12 years old.  I had to go, because it was a strong order.  We had to go 
anytime they ordered, because if we didn't they would come and catch us.  
As I grew older they noticed, so they gave me heavier and heavier loads.  
I've carried weapons, bullets, 5 big shells...  I remember one time, they 
said "You must come only for two days", but actually it was 7 days.  I had to 
carry one big tin to Wah Kyo twice in a day.  It was a long journey.  When 
I came home I was seriously ill and nearly died, and as soon as I got better 
we left to come here.  They still make villagers go like this, 12 year old 
girls too.

They ordered us to move to Khaw Taw.  Both Ko Per Baw and SLORC ordered it.  
They ordered it last dry season, and this year too.  They said if 
people don't move they will come themselves and move us by force, so we 
were afraid and some villagers ran to hide in the forest and some came to 
Thailand like me.  There are 10 houses in the village, but no villagers 
because they are hiding in the jungle.  Six families arrived here.  If we go 
to Khaw Taw they won't allow us to do farming.  They will give rice, but not 
enough.  People don't want to go because they'll have to work for SLORC 
and there's not enough food.  Ko Per Baw are Karen people, but they give 
trouble the same as SLORC.  When I was a porter there were Ko Per Baw 
soldiers as well in the column.  They are travelling together [DKBA and 

We had to walk just one day to get here.  We went at night, or else SLORC 
soldiers would see us.  They would arrest us and torture us, because they 
don't allow us to come to the refugee camps.  Along the way I saw only 
deserted villages.  All the other villages were ordered to move too - Saw 
Bweh Der, Dee Taw Kee, May Say Kee, Kyo Ko Der, Meh Wah Ler and 
Oo Thu Kloh villages.  Now we can't go back, because they already said if 
they see us and arrest us they will kill us on the spot.  [This was written 
in the relocation order, that anyone found after the relocation deadline 
would be considered as enemy rebel soldiers.]

NAME:    "Naw Say Say"     SEX: F    AGE: 50     Karen Christian (RC) farmer
FAMILY:  Married, 6 children aged 10-25
ADDRESS: Meh Wah Der village, Lu Thaw Twp., Papun Dist.  INTERVIEWED: 15/2/96

We stay in xxxx refugee camp, because we don't dare stay in our own 
house.  When we were in our village SLORC took us to carry loads for 
them.  It was 5 days for each person.  When one person completes 5 days, 
another has to go and start.  We must go by turns.  Our village has 20 
houses, and 3 people had to go every 5 days.  If we didn't go we had to pay 
money.  Not just 1 or 2 Kyats, we had to pay 1,500 Kyats just for 5 days 
[of missed labour], from every house.  Now we have no money left.  We 
also had to work in their camp in Papun.  Papun is only 3 hours walk from 
our village.  They ordered us to bring logs and bamboo for their camp, and 
leaves for their roof.  But I didn't dare go to their camp myself.  I heard 
that if they ask for people for one day then we have to go for 10 days, so 
I didn't dare go.

Now they have ordered us to move to Papun, and they say "we will work 
together there peacefully".  We can move to Papun, but we worry that if we 
go there they won't allow us to go anywhere, and they will order us to work 
like dogs.  Even when we live in our village they treat us as their slaves.  
When they order labour we must go, even though we are afraid.  All men 
and women must go.  SLORC ordered that within 15 days we all must 
move to Papun.  That was about 5 months ago.  So we all left the village 
and fled before the 15 days were up.  We left together with 3 families.  As 
for the others, some ran away to the forest, some went to stay in xxxx 
village and yyyy village.  If the SLORC still orders them to move, I think 
they will come here.  No families went to stay with the SLORC in Papun.  
So if they come to the village now they will move us by force, they won't 
even give us a few minutes to collect our things or livestock.  I think they 
will do that as soon as their new soldiers come, and then more people will 
have to seek shelter in Thailand.

Sometimes Ko Per Baw come to our village.  They come together with 
SLORC and order us to move to Papun.  They say, "If you villagers move 
to Papun, later we will prepare a special place for you in Khaw Taw".  
Most of the people in our village are RC [Roman Catholic].

All the villages around us were also ordered to move, like Baw Thay Kee, 
Pa Naw Klaw Ko, Meh Wah Der, Ta Per Der and Lah Nah Der.  I don't 
know what is the SLORC's plan with this order.  Sometimes we see KNLA 
soldiers in our village, but there is no fighting because we tell them not to 
attack DKBA or SLORC because if they do, DKBA or SLORC will make 
trouble in our village.  KNLA are our own nationality and they always listen 
to what we say, and we also give them things that they need.  So after that 
they went away from our village.  But when SLORC or DKBA come, we 
are really afraid of them.  When they are searching our houses they take 
things, and if we try to grab our things back then they hit our faces, point 
their guns at us and show us their knives, and it makes us really afraid.  
People don't dare stay in the village anymore, they have to hide in the 
jungle.  There are only 4 or 5 houses left in the village.  Six families have 
arrived here.  It took us 2 days to come here. Oh!  What a big worry we 
were in, we had to come by night, and there were SLORC soldiers in Saw 
Bweh Der when we came.  We had to cross the [Papun-Kyauk Nyat] car 
road.  Now we don't dare go back.  If we go, SLORC will come to our 
village and ask us so many questions, beat us and point their guns at us.

NAME:    "Naw Htoo K'Paw"    SEX: F    AGE: 23         Karen Buddhist farmer
FAMILY:  Married, 2 children aged 1 and 5 years
ADDRESS: Tee Tha Lay village, Dweh Loh Twp., Papun Dist. INTERVIEWED: 14/2/96

We have been here one week.  It took us 2 days to walk.  Our village is near 
Ka Dtaing Dtee [in the south of Papun District, 30-40 km. south of Papun 
along the Papun - Ka Ma Maung road].  We came because we are afraid 
of SLORC, because they order us to be their slaves.  [Q:  SLORC says 
everyone loves them, why not you?]  I don't love them, because they beat 
us while we are working.  When we are in the village, if they order us to go 
as porters and we refuse to go then they punish us for sure.  I've had to go.  
All men and women have to go.  I had to carry weapons and bullets, from 
Ka Dtaing Dtee to Ka Ma Maung for IB #5.  There are about 100 houses 
in our village, and 30 people have to go at a time.  Sometimes it is for 5 
days, and they don't give us enough food.  Even children and old people 
have to go and carry 20 or 30 viss [32-48 kg.].  

We also have to clear and build car roads for them.  The road goes between 
Papun and Ka Dtaing Dtee.  Their soldiers start from Ka Ma Maung and go 
through Ka Dtaing Dtee and on to Papun. We have to sweep the road, 
because they worry that the KNU will lay mines on the road.  We have to 
do that 2 or 3 times a month, 20 or 30 people each time.  When the men 
don't dare go, we women have to go.  It is supposed to be for a day, but if 
they won't let you go then you have to sleep there.  If no one comes to take 
our place, we must sleep there with SLORC.  We don't dare, because we 
already have husbands!  The soldiers are used to raping women all the time.  
They take women away on their trucks and nobody can chase them.  When 
the [army] trucks come, villagers are their security.  We have to sweep the 
road before the trucks come and then stand alongside the road when they 
come.  SLORC is afraid the KNU will attack them so they use the villagers.  
But we can't do anything, we are just afraid so we lay down like chickens!

Sometimes we find mines on the road.  One of my friends was killed by a 
mine this year, not so long ago.  His name was Ba Gyi.  He was 38 or 39 
years old, married with 5 children.  He lived in my village, and he stepped 
on a mine on his way home.

We also have to build another road.  It is a road for SLORC to send food to 
their soldiers, and it goes near our village.  We started work on it one month 
and 18 days ago.  It is 4 miles long [the stretch her village has to work on].  
We have to go by turns, 15 or 18 people each day.  If we don't go they will 
beat us.  They'll give us trouble and force us to move to another village or 
an army camp.  Their camp is in Ka Dtaing Dtee.  They demand food from 
us and they burned all our rice.  They did this in rainy season.  They said, 
"You've got a lot of rice, maybe you'll give it to Karen soldiers".  So we 
gave the Burmese half of our rice, but they didn't want it, they want all of 
the owner's rice, so they burned all of it.  They took or destroyed all the 
rice they saw.  About 30 families lost all their rice.  They took some of our 
rice to Ka Dtaing Dtee, and we had to buy it back from them.  We had to buy 
it back one milktin at a time [about 200 ml.] and survive on rice soup.  They 
also demanded money and cattle - 10,000 Kyat and 3 bulls, because it is a 
big village.

There are a lot of DKBA near our village.  Sometimes they come into our 
village, about 50 or 100 of them together with SLORC, and order us to 
move to the Ka Dtaing Dtee military camp.  People don't want to go, 
because we have land, farms and orchards in the village.  SLORC also 
orders us to build their barracks and maintain their camp in Ka Dtaing Dtee.  
I always run away, but my brothers and sisters have gone for 3 or 4 days at 
a time and they had to cut trees and make firewood.  Villagers also have to 
go for DKBA.  We had to build houses and do other labour for them 
because they haven't got anything in their camp.  Their camp is on the hill 
above Ka Dtaing Dtee, near Taw Thu.  DKBA also demands money, 4,000 
or 5,000 or 7,000 Kyat.  They say, "You haven't moved to our camp, so 
you must pay us money".  I don't know who gives all the orders, but if 
DKBA orders us to do something for SLORC then we must do it and if 
SLORC orders us to do something for DKBA we must do that too.  
SLORC and DKBA are very friendly with each other, but sometimes they 
kill each other.  Some villagers join DKBA because they don't want to 
suffer anymore.  Then their families don't have to go or pay.  Most villagers 
don't like DKBA.

In rainy season DKBA ordered us to move to Khaw Taw camp.  About 16 
families went as they had ordered.  Since then, only the farmers and people 
who don't join DKBA have come back.  As for families whose children 
have joined DKBA, their children won't allow them to come back.  The 
people who came back from Khaw Taw said they didn't get enough food, 
and that when they stayed there the SLORC soldiers asked to sleep with 
their daughters and then raped them.  They said if the parents didn't allow 
them to do it, they came at night and killed the parents.  I believe them.

I left my village because the situation is very bad, and I am afraid.  They 
destroyed all my rice and all the rice barns, so there is no rice left in the 
village.  Most people are still staying in our village, but some have run 
away and are hiding in other villages.  On the way here it was a very 
difficult way, we had to be afraid of both SLORC and DKBA and avoid them.  
We came the mountain way.  Our family came alone, but 3 other families from 
our village arrived before us.  Maybe more families will come later.