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Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 08:33:23 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: KHRG #96-14 Part 2 of 3
INSIDE THE DKBA
An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
March 31, 1996 / KHRG #96-14
** PART 2 OF 3 - SEE OTHER POSTINGS FOR PARTS 1 AND 3 **
SOME DETAILS IN THIS REPORT HAVE BEEN OMITTED OR REPLACED BY 'XXXX'
FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.
[The following was said in conversation by a DKBA soldier in March 1996;
some details are omitted.]
Ta Bee Met [KNU] are thieves and robbers. They are useless men and
good for nothing. If they call themselves men, they should come and attack
us in our own country. We always welcome them to come and attack our
camp. If they can get our camp, there are girls here for them. But if they
don't dare come and attack us, then I want to tell them to come and stay
together with us. If SLORC fights us we will fight them together. But we
will be your leaders, because we are the only group holding power on the
Burma side [of the border]. KNU soldiers are afraid to come to Khaw
Taw and Tha Menya too. Now, SLORC has given us full power in our
hands and they've given us a special chance to carry weapons freely in Tha
Menya compound, even though they themselves are afraid to do that. We
are the only group who are blessed by the Lord. We have to thank the
Lord and worship him for giving us such power.
We also need to get a foreigner for our education for our people. But it's
not easy to do, because the Thai Army and the Ta Bee Met protect them. I
hate Thai Army. If I ever see them across the river [on the Thai side] I'll
shoot them. Whenever our men try to arrest or kill KNU people in the
camps the Thai Army try to attack us, but we're not afraid of them. They're
very proud of their country, their good weapons, uniforms and salary, but
we can easily kill them even with their good weapons and trucks. If they
keep protecting the refugee camps, one day they will see their towns and
villages become ashes. We can give them any trouble we like.
In Ker Ghaw village there was fighting 3 weeks ago and I was really angry
with SLORC. Our friends there asked SLORC to support them with
artillery, but they didn't do it so 8 of our soldiers were killed and 7
weapons were taken by Ta Bee Met soldiers. Then after the Ta Bee Met
soldiers left the village SLORC started firing artillery and they only hit
the villagers. SLORC are scum. [Note: since the attack DKBA has executed
several Buddhist villagers and demanded money from villages as retribution;
see "Abuses in Tee Sah Ra Area", KHRG #96-15, 1/4/96.] One day when we
have a lot of soldiers, we'll fight against both SLORC and KNU. But every
time we complain about SLORC, the monk [Thuzana] always says, "Be
patient and one day if SLORC fights us I alone will go against them - you
won't have to fight, you'll just have to clap your hands and beat the drum."
I myself am trying to figure out the ambition of the monk, whether he's
going to lead us into trouble or not. We already know some ways that the
monk is like the Burmese. When SLORC told us, "You people have no
qualifications or education, how are you going to lead and govern your
people and country?", we were angry and we wanted to go back and stay
with KNU. But the monk said that's not a good idea, he said, "SLORC is
only joking with you, because they want you to get more education in the
future". When the monk talks to us like that, we also become gentle and
our faces and minds become soft and smile. I think the monk is using some
magic - but don't tell anybody I said that.
I always tell my soldiers, "SLORC may attack us, always be ready to fight
SLORC". Ta Bee Met are not Burmese, but Burmese are Burmese.
Because of SLORC we are in this camp. I never thought there would be an
army camp here. A couple of weeks ago in xxxx, KNU and SLORC
allowed a Thai trader to cut down trees for timber, window frames and
furniture. They both get tax from him, about 2 million Baht per month
[actually, there is no way it would be this much just for one concession].
So DKBA soldiers went to the Thai trader and asked for tax, but the Thai
trader said, "I already pay SLORC and KNU, so I have no money to give
you". Then the DKBA soldiers went to SLORC and SLORC said, "Why
did you go and ask for tax?" So DKBA said, "You and KNU earn money,
so DKBA should too", but SLORC said, "Don't do that." We were very
angry with SLORC. Then SLORC sent a message to KNU saying, "If you
see anyone going to bother the trader, we'd like you to attack and kill all
of them". The KNU soldiers were very happy to hear that, and the next day
when the DKBA soldiers were on their way to the sawmill the KNU
soldiers were waiting for them halfway and shot at them. The DKBA
soldiers called SLORC to support them with artillery, but SLORC were
laughing and clapping their hands. We were really angry and wanted to
fight SLORC when that happened. Since then I keep thinking about going
back to KNU, or giving all our guns to the monk and going home.
I remember when I was a child, my mother told me a story about a
gentleman and a lady who stayed together for about 45 years before getting
married. Then just before they were going to marry, a Devil pretended to
be a lovely young girl and came every day to the gentleman's house and said
"I love you", more than twice every day. So this man forgot his lady and
fell in love with the Devil. One day, the Devil took the man to visit a
famous valley, and when they were on the mountaintop she told him, "My
darling, look into the valley and you'll see a nice view". When he looked,
she suddenly pushed him over the edge and he fell and died. Then she
went to the lady and said, "I don't love your boyfriend anymore, he is
waiting for you on top of the mountain". The lady was very happy and
followed the Devil there, and then the Devil did the same thing to her as to
the man. So I think SLORC is the Devil who will separate our Karen
people and push us all into the valley. For now, we are watching the
situation. We have done some wrong things to the villagers. We have also
killed some KNU leaders, though there is nothing wrong with that because
it was to teach them a lesson. But if we go back to them now they will
torture us and kill us. When we first created our organization we only
wanted to let the KNU leaders know that they were doing wrong things.
But when we held a meeting, some people said we should go and work with
SLORC. One man spoke only in Burmese, and the DKBA leaders
followed what he said. He prepared a place for us in Khaw Taw. I only
saw him one time, and I don't know where he is now [KHRG has no
information about who this was, but it was clearly not U Thuzana].
Anyway, we must always be ready - the eyes of our enemy never close, and
they are always plotting things to come between us [Karen people].
NAME: "Naw P'Neh Paw" SEX: F AGE: 45 Karen Buddhist farmer
FAMILY: Widow, 4 children
ADDRESS: xxxx village, Pa'an District INTERVIEWED: Mar/96
["Naw P'Neh Paw" fled her village to become a refugee in early March 1996.]
I came because there was so much trouble in my village. It is because of
Bo XXXX and his soldiers. He is a Ko Per Baw [DKBA] leader. He is a
Captain, but he has only 3 soldiers. All the Ko Per Baw call themselves
"Captain", "officer", "Sergeant Major", and so on. His three soldiers, they
are also officers! Whenever they arrive in a village, they order alcohol,
chicken and pigs. We are afraid of them and must do everything they say.
If we don't, they tie us up and make us sleep together with the cattle, or
sometimes in a pigsty. They always travel around our area. Sometimes
even when we kill a pig and sell it among ourselves, they come and say,
"Why didn't you tell me you were killing a pig? Don't you know that I'm a
leader?" We said, "Please forgive us this time, my Captain. If we do it
again later we'll tell you, my Captain. My Captain, this was our mistake."
Even though we said that, they still took all the pork that was left.
Q: But they say they are vegetarian. Do they eat pork?
A: Sure they do. [Angrily:] If they couldn't get pork curry, I'm sure
they'd even eat pigshit! Only some of their leaders don't eat meat. As for
the Ko Per Baw who come to my village, the officers and Captain all eat
meat, but they eat it quietly and secretly. If people see them, they say,
"Don't tell any other leaders what you saw. If you do, we'll kill you, chop
you up and eat you like the pig. This is your first and last warning." The
Ko Per Baw said that! They took all my chickens and pigs. They also stole
10 bulls of mine and sold them to SLORC for only 1,500 Kyat each. They
were all adult bulls! [Each one should be worth 10,000 Kyat or more.]
They gave me nothing. When I asked them, "Nephew, have you seen my
bulls?", they said "No, maybe SLORC stole your bulls. We heard from
other villagers that 10 bulls were taken to town by SLORC, so they must be
yours, Auntie." I know that they stole my bulls but I couldn't say anything.
In my village, my cousin's 3 bulls were also stolen by the Ko Per Baw
soldiers. When he went to the Ko Per Baw and asked for them, the Ko Per
Baw said "Did you say you wanted your bulls, or a bullet?" [in Karen,
'klaw pa' or 'kloh klih'] My cousin said "Only my bulls." Then the Ko Per
Baw killed him. They shot him, but first they hit his face with their hands
and stabbed him in both legs, then they killed him. Two days later they
called a meeting in the village and said, "This is an example for you
villagers. Don't accuse us of being robbers or thieves. We aren't Ta Bee
Met ['Closed eyes', DKBA name for KNU]. We protect the village." What
I'd like to ask him is this: "You say you protect the village and do only
good things. Then why do you kill people and steal?" But I just keep
everything in my mind.
SLORC also comes to the village. They always come together with Ko Per
Baw soldiers. If there are 50 SLORC soldiers, there will only be 5 Ko Per
Baw soldiers with them. The SLORC call themselves #44 [Light Infantry
Division]. They are not friendly with the villagers. They order the Ko Per
Baw to get our animals for them. Sometimes if the Ko Per Baw soldiers
don't do what they order, they say, "Don't you love us? You are one of the
KNU. If you love us you must do what we say." So the Ko Per Baw have
to do everything they want. The SLORC arrest people, so all the men run
away from them. If they catch any villagers they take them as porters for a
long time. The villager's family and the headman must go pay them money,
or they will keep the villagers until they die. Many people around my
village say that SLORC really arrests people just to get the money. The
SLORC use their brains with the Ko Per Baw - they tell them softly, "My
friend, please carry this food for a few days. If we catch any porters, you
won't have to carry it any longer." The SLORC gives them some food and
the Ko Per Baw are a little bit happy - they don't realize they are just
acting as the dogs of SLORC. Sometimes the Ko Per Baw get angry and they
don't want to go with SLORC anymore. Then they say to SLORC, "You
are also Ta Bee Met", and they leave to go and do whatever they like.
My nephew Saw xxxx was tortured by SLORC. He is 23 years old and
single. He is Buddhist and was a middle school teacher. He was arrested
on 23 October. I don't know why, they just came at night and arrested him.
They tied him, and a SLORC soldier hit him in the head with his rifle butt.
His head was bleeding. The Ko Per Baw also beat him, because they
thought that all the teachers in the school were Christian. We went with the
headman and asked SLORC to release him. We told them the students
were about to have exams, and the other teachers needed him to prepare.
SLORC released him at about 11 o'clock the next morning, and SLORC
and Ko Per Baw said "Please forgive us teacher, we didn't know who you
were." I hate them, both of them.
My husband was killed when he stepped on a Ko Per Baw landmine in
October. It happened in his farmfield. When he died they [Ko Per Baw]
came to my house and said, "It must have been a Ta Bee Met landmine, we
never lay mines in the fields". You know, even though we know they did it
we are afraid to tell them, and we have to suffer it always. When they are
drunk they come to my house and ask for my daughter. One of them said,
"I want to marry your daughter. If you don't give her to me then you must
be keeping her for Ta Bee Met soldiers, and I can make any kind of trouble
for you." I told him, "My daughter is only 17 years old, there are only the
two of us together, so please don't marry my daughter". He said, "No, you
must give her to me." Then I thought and I told him, "I'll give you my
daughter, but not right now, it's too late at night. So go and sleep, my
son-in-law." Then he was very happy and went back. The next morning very
early at about 4 o'clock, my daughter and I left the village. At that time
the Ko Per Baw were still asleep and drunk. We arrived here two days ago.
Along the way they stopped us and searched our bags and our bodies.
[Other details of their trip must be omitted for safety.]
NAME: "Saw Ler Dah" SEX: M AGE: 32 Karen Christian
FAMILY: Married with 2 children INTERVIEWED: Jan/96
["Saw Ler Dah" and his friend "Saw Lah" used to be Karen soldiers but
have been refugees since early 1995. They were kidnapped from Thailand
by DKBA in November and held for 2 months.]
I and my friend "Saw Lah" were captured together by Ko Per Baw and
Burmese soldiers on the Thai side of the border at xxxx. It was xx
November 1995 at about 12:30 a.m. There were 3 Ko Per Baw and two
Burmese soldiers. They had one M16, one AK47, and a Chinese-made
machine gun. They pointed their guns at us and asked about weapons. We
answered that we didn't know anything about this. Then they made us get
in a boat and took us across the river to xxxx [on the Burma side of the
border]. They just floated the boat on the current and didn't use the engine
so as not to make any noise.
When we got across, the Burmese soldiers asked the Ko Per Baw if they
could search us, and the Ko Per Baw said yes. When they searched us they
tied our hands behind our backs and covered our faces with cloth, even
though they said that they were going to execute us anyway and we could
hear the sound of a hole being dug for our corpses to be thrown into.
However, Saw xxxx vouched for us [one of the Ko Per Baw soldiers who
knew them], so they just threw us in the lockup, where we had to stay and
sleep for about two days. I think if it hadn't been for Saw xxxx being
we really would have been killed.
On xx November they sent us to xxxx in two boats, together with a group of
more than 30 including about 20 Ko Per Baw. From there we went on to
xxxx and slept there one night along with some Ko Per Baw. The next
morning the Ko Per Baw located a car and we went in the car with some of
them to the Thingan Nyi Naung headquarters of #88 Division [SLORC
Light Infantry Division]. There they searched us and put us in jail again.
They handcuffed the two of us together and kept us in the Military
Intelligence interrogation room until about 3 p.m. The Burmese soldiers
asked the Ko Per Baw to hand us over to them, but the Ko Per Baw would
not give us. We stayed in detention there.
On xx November we were sent on a military truck to Tha Menya [see
background in the first part of this report] along with 3 Ko Per Baw.
Altogether about 20 trucks went. When we arrived there the Burmese
soldiers' trucks went on to other places, and only our truck stayed. At Tha
Menya, my friend and I and the Ko Per Baw slept on the pagoda
[platform]. At Tha Menya I think there were more than 10,000 houses,
with 3 to 5 people per house. There were many, many monks and nuns,
and the Ko Per Baw seemed to be freely carrying their weapons, even in
the monastery compound. ["Saw Lah" added that he heard it was SLORC
who told the DKBA to carry their weapons around Tha Menya.] While we
were there the Ko Per Baw said that we ought to understand one another so
as to work together.
On xx December we went on in the military truck together with the 3 Ko
Per Baw until we reached Pa'an, where we were taken to a large riverboat,
which left in the morning for the 4-5 hour trip [up the Salween River] to
Ka Ma Maung. There we got on a small boat and went on until we arrived
at Myaing Gyi Ngu. The Ko Per Baw took us to the Ko Per Baw office
and said, "These two people are not involved in the revolution any more".
Then the Ko Per Baw leader there said we were allowed to do as we
pleased within the Myaing Gyi Ngu area. We didn't do anything - we were
allowed to walk around, sleep and eat, for about 2 months. At the time we
went to Myaing Gyi Ngu the abbot [U Thuzana] was not there, and people
said he went to construct a pagoda in Moulmein. This monk does not stay
in the region - he is always travelling. The Ko Per Baw general secretary at
Myaing Gyi Ngu is Tha Htoo Kyaw, who used to be a KNU administration
officer in KNU 7th Brigade. The military leader is Major General Kyaw
Than [formerly Warrant Officer Kyaw Than of the KNDO militia] and
second in command is Major General Lah Ba. Bo Tha Htwe and Bo Byah
are also senior officers, and Ban Keh [who used to write for some KNU
publications and ran a teashop in Manerplaw, and is now a senior DKBA
Information official] was also there.
Ko Per Baw soldiers and their families stay right in Myaing Gyi Ngu, but
the Burmese soldiers do not. The Burmese soldiers stay in all the villages
around the perimeter, and they come into Myaing Gyi Ngu to see the Ko
Per Baw leaders. They stay in Ohn Taw, Bweh Hta, Bweh Tay, Gan Nyi
Naung, T'Maw Ya Mat Eh, Tee La Neh, and T'Kaw Po villages. Each
village has a checkpoint with 20 or 30 SLORC troops, sometimes together
with police and/or People's Militia [SLORC militia]. The SLORC troops
staying in all the villages throughout the area are from [Light Infantry]
Divisions 11, 22, 77, and 88, and they stay especially in all the places
around Tha Menya and Myaing Gyi Ngu. The 22 Division leaders are the
most involved in administering the region [22 Division was notorious for
the 1988 Rangoon massacres]. SLORC officials sometimes come from
other regions, usually to preside over school openings and things like that.
People said that the Myaing Gyi Ngu abbot had received visits from both
Aung San Suu Kyi [not true] and Khin Nyunt [true; Khin Nyunt is
SLORC Secretary-1 and head of Military Intelligence] at different times.
Overall I think that the relationship between Ko Per Baw and SLORC is not
so good. The Ko Per Baw soldiers don't understand anything, they just do
what they're told. As for the Ko Per Baw leaders, they can see that the
situation is dangerous but they don't want to join hands with the KNU
again. The SLORC does not trust the Ko Per Baw, and the Ko Per Baw
does not trust the SLORC. Above all else, the Ko Per Baw leaders know
that this is a dangerous situation.
There are about 8,000 houses in Myaing Gyi Ngu [others estimate far
fewer than this], so the families of Ko Per Baw are a minority. They were
doing a registration of the population while I was there. There are Christian
families there, and they are not forced to become Buddhists. There was
continuous work to provide electricity, pagodas, schools and a clinic. There
are now two monasteries, a brick high school, bamboo primary schools, and
a clinic was under construction but not complete. Electricity is only
provided along the road [streetlights] and to the leaders' houses, some of
which have televisions and things. There is not enough health care, and I
think 40 or 50 people died in the time I was there, mostly because they
failed to boil water, and a few from physical injuries. Some wells are being
dug with materials from the authorities and some by the villagers themselves.
The first arrivals there each received one plastic toilet basin per
house. The SLORC has sent teachers to Myaing Gyi Ngu, so the students
can only study in Burmese and English, not in Sgaw or Pwo Karen [i.e.
SLORC school curriculum - Karen language, alphabet, and culture are
not even taught, nor is Karen language allowed to be spoken].
The Ko Per Baw soldiers and villagers who stay in Myaing Gyi Ngu are
given food by the SLORC. For Ko Per Baw, rice, salt, oil, onions and
garlic, potatoes, noodles, and fake meat substances. For non-Ko Per Baw,
only rice and salt. Meat is not allowed. The SLORC administration tried to
say that people who stay in Myaing Gyi Ngu who are not soldiers would no
longer get any food at all, but the Myaing Gyi Ngu monk refused this and
insisted that people be given rice. A regular Ko Per Baw soldier who is
single gets 500 Kyat per month from the SLORC. [A SLORC Army
private gets 750.] As far as I know there were only 20 or 30 monks at the
monastery when I was there. There used to be more than 100, but many of
these have left. Many people become ordained at Myaing Gyi Ngu as a
way to go to other places, and they get out as soon as they can.
The first arrivals in Myaing Gyi Ngu received 10 corrugated metal roofing
sheets per family, but now anyone who arrives has to buy the materials to
build a house. One big bamboo pole costs 30 Kyat. Most of the houses are
of bamboo, except the leaders' houses which are all of wood. DKBA has
set up one sawmill, and this is the only place to buy wooden planks.
Nobody staying at Myaing Gyi Ngu is allowed to raise any livestock, clear
any fields or hillsides for farming, or grow any rice. Only small gardens are
allowed beside your house. So people have no way to support themselves
or make any money, and they only get rice and salt. Because of this, some
people say they want to leave, including some Ko Per Baw families, but
they cannot leave because to leave you must get a pass from Ko Per Baw.
The villagers within Tha Menya and Myaing Gyi Ngu are not forced to
work, but other villages in the area like Ka Ma Maung, Tee Th'taw Hta and
others are required to go as forced labourers to build roads. People have to
pay 300 or 400 Kyat if they can't go. The SLORC says to them that these
roads aren't for the Burmese military, they're for the people.
I told them I wanted to go back and I tried to get their permission to leave
by swearing that I would not be involved in the revolution any more. The
Ko Per Baw soldiers told me to go and get my wife and children and come
back to stay in Myaing Gyi Ngu, but I didn't want to do that. On our way
back we stayed again in Tha Menya for two nights. I think the Tha Menya
abbot was there, but I think there's very little contact between him and the
Myaing Gyi Ngu monk. From there we went to xxxx and crossed the
mountains for 3 days, and we arrived in XXXX on xx January.
- [END OF PART 2 - SEE SUBSEQUENT POSTING FOR PART 3 OF 3] -
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