[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

KHRG Report #96-c3

BurmaNet Editor's Note: 
We did not send out all the KHRG reports this summer, so we will be 
resending them - 1 per day - over the next 3 weeks so that you will 
have the full set.


	       July 18, 1996     /     KHRG #96-C3


"I saw people moving, carrying their children, carrying their things.  I
saw them walking along the roads, and living along the roadsides.  It
makes you cry - they've lost everything, and their houses have been
burned.  People couldn't take much with them.  You see many people
carrying children, and a load on their back too.  I saw it around Kun
Hing ... it's everywhere!  They're all over the place, I can't list all the
places.  They were moving close to the towns.  They're just living in
bamboo huts, I saw the places they're staying in.  They're staying all
packed together.  They don't have any money to build proper houses, so
they have to do that.  I saw soldiers guarding some of these places.
They looked like camps, many huts.  I saw lots of these places.  In some
places the people beg along the sides of the road.  They hold monk's
bowls and just stand there by the roadside, all day long.  They hope
passersby will put some rice or money in their bowls.  The children hold
out their caps.  I saw groups of 30 people or more standing together
along the roadsides doing this."
		- Shan man who visited the relocation areas in Shan State

"... all the area between the Pon River and Salween River, all villages
south of Shadaw and north of Shadaw, must gather at Shadaw.  7 June
1996 is the last day for all the villages to gather, we send this letter to
inform you all.  If you do not gather by the deadline the troops will enter
the village and if we see anyone we will consider them as enemy."
			      - SLORC written order sent to 98 villages
				in central Karenni on 1 and 2 June

The State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC) junta ruling Burma
is now using mass forced relocations of entire geographic regions as a major
element of military strategy.  While this is not new to SLORC tactics, they
have seldom or never done it to such an extent or so systematically before.
The large-scale relocations began in Papun District of Karen State in
December 1995 and January 1996, when up to 100 Karen villages were
ordered to move within a week or be shot [see "Forced Relocation in
Papun District", KHRG #96-11, 4/3/96].  These were all the villages in the
region between Papun and the Salween River, an area about 50-60 km.
north-south and 30 km. east-west.  Most of them were ordered to move to
sites beside military camps at Papun, Kaw Boke, Par Haik and Pa Hee Kyo,
where SLORC was gathering people to do forced labour on the Papun-Bilin
and Papun-Kyauk Nyat roads.  However, the main reasons for the forced
relocation were to cut off all possible support for Karen guerrilla columns
the area, most of which has only been SLORC-controlled since mid-1995,
and to create a free-fire zone which would also block the flow of refugees
from inside Karen State to the Thai border.  Recently, though, SLORC
troops in the area have limited their movements rather than combing the
area, allowing some villagers to trickle back to their villages.  This may
partly because of rainy season or because of the current SLORC-Karen
National Union ceasefire talks, but it is probably largely because SLORC
realised it could not control the result - people were fleeing into hiding
the jungle, some were fleeing to Thailand, but none were heading for the
relocation camps.

This has not stopped SLORC from conducting new and larger relocation
campaigns.  Starting in March 1996 it began an unprecedented forced
relocation campaign in central and southern Shan State, covering the entire
region from the Salween River westward for 120 km. to Lai Kha and Mong
Kung, and from Lang Ker and Mong Nai in the south (about 60 km. north
of the Thai border) northward to the area west of the ruby mines at Mong
Hsu - a total area of 120 km. east-west and 180 km. north-south.  [See
"Forced Relocation in Central Shan State", KHRG #96-23, 25/6/96.]  In
this area, between March and June almost every village away from towns
and major roads has been forced to move.  Estimates are that at least 400-
500 villages are included, a total of 60,000-80,000 people.  Information
gathered by both the Shan Human Rights Foundation and KHRG already
includes the names of 320 villages, as well as 22 other village tracts
(averaging 5-15 villages per tract) for which lists of village names are not
yet available, in Kun Hing, Mong Nai, Nam Sang, Lai Kha, Mong Kung,
Lang Ker, Mong Nong, and Kay See townships.
"The Burmese said, 'Drive them away from here!  Let everything be
done within 5 days, otherwise we'll set fire to the houses'.  The Burmese
from Mong Pan themselves gave this order.  They started from Chiang
Tong and made their way to us.  So we had no chance to take our
belongings.  As soon as they said 'Get out', we started to move.  As we
didn't have carts or anything, we started moving right away.  We were
given no chance to go back or look again on our place.  If we did, they
would kill us."
			  - Shan woman over 50 from Lang Ker township

"The Burmese soldiers came to the monastery.  They said to the monks:
'The village must move.  If we come back again and the village hasn't
moved we will burn the village and the monastery.'  They said this to the
monks, then they went into Wan Ho Hai ..."
			     - Shan Buddhist monk from Lai Kha township

"They used dry straw and held it up to the roof.  They said nothing, no
warning.  Even though they knew that we were still in the house they set
it on fire.  I was just holding my baby.  As soon as I knew the house was
on fire I just held my baby and ran out of the house.  I couldn't take
anything - we just tried to escape from the fire. ... After that I didn't go
back to see, but people told me our house had burned down completely."
	     - Shan woman from Chiang Tong township whose house was set
	       alight with her inside

The relocations follow a standard pattern: SLORC troops come to the
village and order all villagers to leave within 5 days, after which they
will be
shot on sight.  If any objections are raised, village elders are beaten and
some houses are burned as an example.  Some people have had their houses
set alight while they were still inside, and some elderly people who refused
to move have been burned to death inside their houses.  Others have been
shot for returning to their villages after the deadline to retrieve
or food.  In some cases the soldiers order them to move to specific sites
along car roads or around big villages, but in many cases they are just
ordered to move to a town or a patch of scrub on the outskirts.  Some troops
even tell villagers to go to Thailand if they want, as long as their
are cleared.  Nothing is prepared at the relocation places; many of them are
waterless fields or tangled scrub.  Most people cannot take all their
belongings, and large herds of livestock have been left behind to be killed
by SLORC troops.  At many relocation sites the SLORC troops confiscate all
the villagers' rice, then ration it back out to them at a rate of only 3
milktins per person per day (supposedly to make sure that they will not have
any to give to Shan soldiers; however, this is not even enough for
sustenance).  People from the area say that the whole area is in chaos, that
thousands of people who used to have farms and livestock are living in
shelters along the roads, begging for food by running out to passing
with hands outstretched or simply standing quietly by the roadside with a
monk's bowl.  Towns and villages which haven't been moved now have up
to 5 or 6 families living in each house and others occupying every available
shelter and cattle shed.  In areas like Chiang Tong 50 villages have been
forced to move into 3, and villages which used to have 60 families now
have 7,000 people.  Some of the relocated people are now being used as
forced labour on projects like the Nam Sang - Kun Hing and Lai Kha -
Pang Long roads, the Lai Kha - Mong Kung railway, working at army
camps and standing sentry on roads.
"The quarter of Ton Hoong is full of villagers, staying in every corner,
everywhere.  In paddy field shelters, and where the farmers pile their
straw, even in the cattle corrals, people are staying everywhere.  By the
time I got there it was raining very heavily. ... When they get sick there
is a hospital but there is no doctor there, so they have to rely on herbal
medicine.  Some have died."     - Shan farmer from Chiang Tong township

"It was raining heavily, and there was a hailstorm.  The shelter where
[my mother] was staying was very old and worse than this house [a
simple bamboo hut with dirt floor], and the house fell down on her.
They had to lift the house up off her.  When we left for Thailand she
still couldn't walk very well."
	- Shan woman who was forced to move to Lang Ker, then fled to
	  Thailand a month later

Monks who meet the refugees coming through the border estimate that
during the peak of the exodus in April, 200 or more people per day were
fleeing through each of the 4 or 5 main border crossing points.  It appears
that at least 15,000 people have fled to Thailand, where they disappear as
labour in the Thai lychee orchards or to building sites and sweatshops in
Chiang Mai or Bangkok, because there is no refugee camp for Shan people.
Numbers have decreased through May and June, because the roads on the
Burma side of the border have washed out and because many people do not
have the 4,500 Kyat it costs for the car fare from Nam Sang to the border -
but people are still crossing.
"My uncle was chairman of xxxx village, and he had to move to Kun
Hing.  I visited him.  He hasn't got anything now.  He couldn't bring
anything with him, and he had to leave all his livestock behind.  His
house is no good now, not like before, and he's got 4 children, 3 of them
daughters.  My uncle told me he wants to come to Thailand.  From
nearly every house there are people coming to Thailand now.  He is over
40.  He asked me to find him work here, but I said I couldn't promise
anything."           - Shan man telling of his family in Kun Hing area

"Some go to Bangkok and they have to be scared all the time, always
hiding from the police.  That man there, he used to stay in Bangkok and
he's used to being arrested and sent to prison.  He's not afraid of them
anymore, because he knows he'll be in jail for not longer than 3
months, then released.  In jail at least he can eat rice.  Not like in
Burma.  Before they came here, even though they had the chance to
work for themselves, they had rice and crops, but in the end it was all
taken by the Burmese.  Over there we could barely survive.  So what
have we to fear from the police?"
 - Shan farmer who has worked in Thailand for several years, explaining
   why many refugee workers consider the risk of imprisonment as 'illegals'
   in Thai jails better than life in Burma

SLORC is using these relocations to try to put pressure on some of the
many groups of Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army (MTA) which did not
surrender with Khun Sa in December 1995, such as Yord Serk's Shan
United Revolutionary Army (SURA), and to cut them off from any
possibility of obtaining food or support from civilians.  However, the
relocations also target groups which have had ceasefires with SLORC for
several years, such as the Shan State Army in the area west of Mong Hsu,
the Pa'O National Army south of Nam Sang, and Garn Yod's Shan State
National Army (SSNA, which broke away from the MTA last year and
made a ceasefire with SLORC), because SLORC is apparently afraid that
the MTA-remnant groups will contact the ceasefire groups and convince
them to fight.  SLORC generally takes any opportunity it can to weaken
ceasefire groups in preparation for eventually disarming them.

Most of the villagers who have been forced to move are rice farmers who
don't really care which group is which, they just know they must give food
or money to whoever points a gun at them.  SLORC now tells them that
they will only be allowed to go home when every Shan soldier has
surrendered.  The SLORC troops seem to think this will happen within a
few months, but the villagers know better and they have no idea what will
become of their future.

Throughout June and July 1996, SLORC has conducted a mass forced
relocation campaign covering more than half of the geographic area of
Karenni (Kayah State) and affecting at least 183 villages so far with an
estimated total population of 25-30,000.  [See "Forced Relocation in
Karenni", KHRG #96-24, 15/7/96.]  The first orders to move came as early
as April in Baw La Keh (often spelled Bawlake) area on the Pon River.
However, the biggest wave of relocations began on 1 June, when an order
was issued to all 98 villages between the Pon and Salween Rivers, an area
120 km. north-south by 15 km. east-west, to move to relocation sites beside
SLORC Army camps at Shadaw and Ywathit.  The order clearly stated that
after 7 June, anyone seen in or around any of these villages would be
"considered as enemy", i.e. shot on sight with no questions asked.  Shortly
afterward the relocations spread.  To the south, villages in Pah Saung
township were ordered to move to a relocation site near Pah Saung by 20
June.  Villages surrounding Mawchi and to the north and west all through
the Too River watershed were ordered to move to Mawchi, Bu Ko and
Kwa Chi by 20 June - a total of at least 52 known villages.  At least 26
villages east of Pruso and Deemawso were ordered to move by 25 June,
and 7 to 10 villages in the Daw Tama area east of the Salween River were
forced to move to Daw Tama by the same deadline.  Even just to the
northeast of Loikaw, the capital, at least 29 villages have been forced to
sign papers stating that they will be forced to move if any shots are fired
in their area.
"They just sent a letter.  It said, 'When you see this order you must
move immediately.  If you don't you will be driven away and beaten like
dogs and pigs, maybe even shot dead.  If you refuse to leave your house,
you will be burnt together with your house.'"
     - farmer from Baw La Keh township, Karenni, who was forced to move

"Then suddenly the soldiers invaded our village and said we have to
follow them.  They said, 'By this time you should have arrived at the
relocation place in Ywathit.  We will burn all the possessions left behind
in your village.  Go!' and they pushed us and told us to go quickly.
There were 75 soldiers from #430 Battalion.  Our village only has 25
families. ... They said, 'You must not refuse.  Don't you see our guns?
If we see you in your village we'll come, 10 Battalions will come to your
village and we'll kill anyone who's left here.  For the old men and
women I will allow them 3 days to stay here, but the rest of you must
come back and get them later'.  We only had half an hour to get ready,
and then they took us from the village with their guns pointed at us."
		- Kayah villager who was forced to move to Ywathit
		  relocation site in mid-June

"As for us, we were told to stay in a paddy field which the owner had
just prepared for the coming planting.  He had just put fertilizer on it.
They just put sticks in the ground and said 'This is for you, this is for
you', and so on. ... They made 12 foot by 9 foot plots of land for each
house.  You need 2 plots of land to build a house, and you have to buy
each plot, they don't just give it."
	  - Shan farmer in Karenni who was forced to move to a Baw La Keh
	    relocation site

The forced relocations cover almost every area where the Karenni National
Progressive Party (KNPP) has ever operated.  The KNPP has been fighting
Burmese occupation for over 45 years. (Note: the Karenni call their
homeland Karenni and fight for the independence the British regime
granted them in 1875, while SLORC calls it Kayah State.)  In March 1995
the KNPP made a ceasefire with SLORC, but SLORC broke the ceasefire
on 29 June 1995 with fresh attacks.  By the end of March 1996, SLORC
had taken all of the main KNPP bases near the Thai border.  The KNPP
reorganised and guerrilla columns were sent further inside Karenni to
disrupt SLORC forces.  Rather than hunt the guerrilla columns, SLORC is
removing the entire civilian population so the columns will have no means
of support, and also to try to get civilians to pressure the KNPP to
surrender.  Thus far almost the only areas of southern and central Karenni
not to be affected by the relocations are areas where the Karenni
Nationalities People's Liberation Front (KNPLF) operates; the KNPLF
made a ceasefire with SLORC in 1994 which is still holding.  A report we
have not confirmed yet, however, suggests that some villages in KNPLF
area have now been ordered to move as well.

Most of the villagers affected by the relocations are ethnically Kayah, and
there are also many Shans in some areas (with no connection to events in
Shan State).  Even in areas east of the Salween River which have not been
ordered to move, most people are living in hiding in the forest due to fears
of fighting in the area, SLORC troops taking porters, and their fear of
sudden forced relocation at gunpoint.
"SLORC told us, 'All the groups have made ceasefires with us except
the Karenni.  Karenni are very headstrong.'  They said, 'If there is
water, there will be fish.'  When they said that, we hurried to run
	- Kayah farmer from Shadaw Township who was ordered to move
	  to Shadaw in June

"They said that people who live in Daw Kraw Aw area are rebels.  'So',
they said, 'We can kill you anytime we want.  All people in Kayah [State]
are rebels.'  In our village they said, 'In this village, you yourselves are
all rebels.'"                             - farmer from Shadaw township

Most of the people ordered to move have been fleeing to the relocation
sites, towards Thailand or to other areas.  A few are attempting to hide in
the forests, though most feel this is too dangerous.  SLORC has promised
food and places to stay at the relocation sites, but on arrival people find
neither.  At some sites hundreds of people are living in monasteries,
abandoned huts, shelters, or under other people's houses.  At Shadaw some
barracks are being built beside the military camp to house some of the
people.  At most sites, SLORC troops simply allocate an area of scrubland
and tell the villagers to clear it.  At Wan Mai, near Baw La Keh, the troops
have confiscated farmland, marked it out with stakes and are forcing the
relocated villagers to buy plots from the Battalion to build their houses.
No one has any land to farm, nor are they allowed to go back to farm their
home fields.  Most people had no chance to bring much food with them
and SLORC provides none, so at most sites SLORC has relented and
allowed people to go back to their villages to get supplies.  This is only
for a limited time: for example, at Shadaw people were told that they must
all be back by 27 June, and after that anyone outside the camp would be shot
on sight.  Near Baw La Keh, villagers were told that by July all roads would
be blockaded and even cross-river ferries would stop operating in the area.
It is important to note that these relocations are all happening at planting
and growing time for the year's only rice crop, so this year at least half
Karenni will have no rice harvest.  SLORC soldiers have made clear to the
villagers that this is fine with them - as one villager told us, "They told
that it is not necessary for us to grow anything, because we won't eat it
ourselves, we will only use it to feed the rebels."

Water is inadequate at some of the sites, and at every site disease is
rampant.  Those wishing medical help must buy their own medicines, and at
Shadaw people must even pay for a 'clinic ticket' before they can go to the
nurse.  At Ywathit, the relocated villagers are already being used by the
troops to do forced labour on a road, and at Wan Mai they must do army
camp labour every other day; at the other sites, soldiers tell the villagers
there will be no labour "for now", but all the villagers are sure they will
used as military porters and other labour in the near future.
"I saw a family whose children were very hungry, so their father went
to the Army and asked for food, but they refused.  He went home, but
then he saw his children all so hungry and crying, so he went back and
asked the Army again.  They beat him, then they pushed him away and
shouted 'Go away!'  That man said later, 'I have to get away from here,
if I stay here a long time I will die by starvation or by SLORC'."
	- Kayah villager describing conditions at Shadaw relocation site

"We are allowed to go only 3 miles in any direction.  Even for that we
have to take their written pass with us.  That is to go within 3 miles.
Beyond 3 miles, no written permission will be effective.  Anyone found
beyond 3 miles away will be shot on sight."
     - Shan farmer explaining movement restrictions at relocation site
       near Baw La Keh, Karenni

At least 3,000 people fleeing the relocations have arrived at Karenni
camps in Thailand, despite the difficulty and danger of the 4 to 7 day walk
in the monsoon rain and mud through the forest and over mountains, with
little or nothing to eat and the possibility of encountering SLORC troops at
any point along the way.  As of 3 July, 2,091 new people had registered in
Karenni Camp 2, the main arrival point, and up to 100 more were arriving
each day.  In many cases entire villages are arriving together.  A very high
proportion of them are arriving suffering malaria, respiratory infections,
fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery, skin diseases, malnutrition and
exhaustion.  Many children have died on arrival at the camp - in the first
week of July one observer estimated that one child per day was dying.
Overseas organisations helping the refugees are saving as many people as
possible with the resources at their disposal.  SLORC officers just across
the border have already demanded that the Thai Army hand all the refugees
"When we were on the way here we didn't know if we would die or not.
I was with my whole family.  We were very afraid and full of worry.  My
baby was born in Daw Bu Loh village along the way, in the afternoon.
That evening I took a bath with hot water.  In the morning I had
another bath, and then we resumed the journey.   We had to walk in the
water the whole day and I got sick.  Even though I had high fever I had
to walk and hurry to arrive here.  That night we had to sleep beside the
path, and it was raining. ... When I arrived here I had fever, and my
whole body was in pain.  Now I feel very cold and I have headaches.
My baby has a runny nose and can't breathe, he has to breathe through
his mouth.  When he coughs we can hear 'Krek! Krek!'  When I arrived
here I don't know what happened in my heart, I don't know what has
happened to me."
	- Kayah woman who fled to Thailand after SLORC ordered her
	  village to move or be shot

The main purpose of these relocation campaigns is in keeping with
SLORC's current policy of "draining the ocean so no fish can swim";
anywhere there is opposition, the entire civilian population of the region
forced at gunpoint into relocation camps and told that they can never go
home until the opposition group capitulates.  This approach was used by
SLORC several times before 1993, notably in Palaung areas of Shan State
and Thaton District of Karen State, but since then forced relocations had
been on a much smaller scale, generally only to achieve local military
objectives. The current return to mass forced relocations represents a
significant shift in SLORC military policy, away from the pretext of
negotiated ceasefires and aiming for a forced surrender in every case.  The
geographic extent of the current scorched earth campaigns and the number
of people being affected are greater than anything previously attempted by
SLORC.  Yet it is depressing to note that while the international community
has been quick to condemn SLORC's recent actions against democratic
politicians in Rangoon, none of those condemnations have so much as
mentioned the more than 100,000 people who have at the same time been
driven or burned out of their homes, forced into guarded camps rampant
with dysentery and malaria, with no water or food, once-proud people
forced into begging along muddy roadsides and facing starvation.  SLORC
relies heavily on this international ignorance and apathy about Burma's
villagers, knowing it can conduct campaigns which systematically destroy
the lives of tens of thousands without fear of repercussion.  They are the
bulk and the backbone of Burma's population, but yet again they stand

"Wherever they see Shan people they despise and look down on us very
much.  They consider us as country bumpkins and treat us very badly,
like beating and other kinds of abuse.  When we meet them on the road,
we are caught and used as porters.  As we spend our time farming we
don't have time to resist them.  That's why we had to flee to Thailand.
After the village was burned we tried to find hope for the future but we
couldn't see any hope.  We won't even be able to do farming like before,
or trading.  We felt that there's no hope at all to live in 'Union of
Myanmar'.  For these reasons, whatever may come, we made our
decision and left for Thailand.  We do as others do."
 - Shan farmer from Chiang Tong township who fled his village after his
   was burned in February and his village was ordered to relocate in May.

"They are being forced to cut the grass at the side of the road.  The
Burmese are afraid that they will be shot [from the roadside scrub].
This road goes from Nam Sang to Kengtung.  They have to clear about
4 metres along both sides, from Kun Hing to Nam Sang.  These people
doing the work are people who have been forced to move.  They are
from every village.  In this area they've all moved.  There's nothing
	  - Shan Buddhist monk describing what he saw in Nam Sang area

"All of them were from Kung Sar.  They had already moved to Kun
Mong, but it is not far, so they came back to their village to get their
rice, and by that time it was too late.  So they met the Burmese, and they
got shot.  They weren't even going to stay in the village, they were just
going back to get their rice."
 - Shan villager from Chiang Tong describing how 5 relocated villagers
   were killed and 2 wounded by a SLORC patrol in May

"They just put a stick at a spot and said 'Here is where you build your
houses'.  They only marked the place with a stick.  270 families have
been forced to move there from 9 villages."
      - Shan farmer in Karenni who was forced to move to a Baw La Keh
	relocation site

"The Burmese said we must stay 3 complete years in that camp.  They
said, 'Don't think about your animals, we will kill them.  For now you
can bring them to our camp, but any we see later we will kill.  Don't
hold any hope for them.'  They also said, 'We have to kill any people
who are hiding in the forest.'"
		- Kayah farmer who moved to Shadaw as ordered in June

"We are not even allowed to go and work in our fields and farms or do
any cultivation.  They told us that it is not necessary for us to grow
anything, because we won't eat it ourselves, we will only use it to feed
the rebels. ... The Burmese troops said that there is no way for us to
return home.  They said, 'There will never be any way for you to go
home, ever.'"
	    - villager who moved to Baw La Keh relocation site, Karenni

"We had to run away. ... When I left I couldn't take everything with me.
Since the father wasn't there, all I could do was take the children.  Oh!
It was very hard and miserable to move!  First I tried to move to Nong
Tao, which is not far from Wan Kaen.  But we were told that we
couldn't stay there, so finally we moved to Lang Ker - to Wan Kaen, to
stay with my relatives.  No one helped me, I did it all myself on my own,
holding my baby all the time.  Just mother and baby.  My oldest boy can
walk, so he walked along.  My parents have a pushcart, so I put my
smaller boy on the cart, and I carried my baby on my back with me
while I carried other things on my front. ... Oh!  It was terrible.  My
tears were even dropping along the way."
    - Shan woman from Lang Ker area.  SLORC later burned down her house.

"It took us 6 days to walk here.  We were very, very disappointed and
unhappy.  People were crying, we could not sleep and we could not eat.
We saw deserted villages so we were very afraid and worried about that.
I was upset because I saw there was no one there to look after the cattle,
buffalos and chickens.  I didn't want to sleep in those deserted villages.
All the women and some of the men were crying.  We were in a hurry so
all our things were left behind.  When we slept we dreamed about our
houses and our things and we were very sad.  I still burst into tears
when I think about all I've left behind."
		      - Kayah villager who fled Shadaw relocation site

"I've never seen a situation this bad.  Before we just had to run to
neighbouring villages to avoid them.  But now it's everywhere, and they
said they'll burn our villages and kill our animals.  I've never faced
problems this bad in my life."      - Kayah farmer from Shadaw township

			      - [END] -