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KHRG Commentary 97-C2

September 20, 1997

            September 20, 1997     /     KHRG #97-C2

"The adage 'As you sow, so shall you reap' is also interpreted in the most 
practical sense when one speaks of people getting together in the thousands, or 
even hundreds of thousands, contributing to the accomplishment of a task that 
would benefit the general wellbeing of the State ... For huge undertakings 
[such] as the building of railroads there is much manpower needed.  We have 
that plenty, in the villages in the immediate area of the project.  With little 
cudgeling, they get together to help."  - 'Perspectives', New Light of Myanmar 
(SLORC-run newspaper), 2/3/95 (as quoted by Burma Issues)

"Send 10 servants from xxxx village tract to xxxx monastery today for the use 
of Frontline #113 Light Infantry Battalion.  If you fail, there will be severe 
punishment."  - typical SLORC written order sent to a village in Pa'an
April 1997 (KHRG #97-10)

"For building the road we have to buy things, carry things, do everything.  We 
have to buy petrol, pay for the car, buy stones - we have to buy everything,
we also have to go and do it ourselves.  It is the motor road, it goes to Palaw 
and also to Tavoy.  We also have to go work on it in Palaw.  The width is 8 
plah [12 feet], and the section we have to work on is 12 miles.  Every day
it is finished!  It can never be finished." - Karen woman aged 52 in Tenasserim 
Division discussing 'self-reliance basis' forced labour on the Mergui-Tavoy
(KHRG #97-09)

The 1997 rainy season is most of the way over.  Usually rainy season is a 
time when military activity decreases due to the difficulty of travelling and 
operating, when villagers don't have to do quite as much forced labour for the 
Army and can try to concentrate on the crucial task of growing the rice crop 
which will feed their family for the next year.  However, as each year
passes the 
rainy season is providing less and less respite for the villagers. First the
Army, which used to withdraw from remote areas in rainy season, began 
staying there year round.  Now they have gone beyond this, and over the past 
few years several regional offensives have been launched in rainy season.  This 
rainy season has seen the SLORC working to extend and consolidate its control 
over areas which it captured in dry season, and to destroy the ability of
to produce food for themselves in difficult-to-control areas such as Papun 

In Shan State, a steady flow of people continues to head for Thailand as the 
forced relocation campaign continues.  Over 600 villages have been relocated, 
and in 1997 SLORC has been forcing those already at relocation sites to move 
again, trying to bring them under even stronger military control or simply to 
wipe out the Shan population by driving them to flee to Thailand.  In the 
Kunhing area, troops have received orders to massacre civilians and at least 2 
massacres of 30 or more people occurred in July [see upcoming KHRG report].  
In Karenni (Kayah State) SLORC soldiers have still not allowed people to 
return home to the almost 200 villages which were forced to relocate in 1996.  
Furthermore, throughout this rainy season SLORC has been sending "search 
and destroy" columns through the Mawchi area of southern Karenni because 
many villagers there were still trying to hide around their villages and
People from this area are scattering further into the hills or trying to flee 
southward to Karen State, where the situation is definitely no better.  For the 
Karenni villagers already in closed relocation camps throughout the State, it 
can only be assumed that the situation is becoming more desperate as they run 
out of food and are provided with nothing.

"They came in and called for us, then they shot at us.  They shot with their 
rifles.  I saw them shooting at us, but no one was wounded. They shot at us and 
we ran away, and then they burned the houses.  We ran without our clothes and 
without our pots and things, we left everything behind." - male villager
aged 40 
from the Bilin River area in eastern Nyaunglebin District describing how 
SLORC troops destroyed his village (KHRG #97-12)

"They fired their big gun at the mouth of the stream and the source of the 
stream.  Then they shot over there and over here, they shot all around. ...
I was 
in the jungle, and 3 or 4 of the shells fell near me. Then we got out as
fast as 
we could, because we dared not stay.  They shot and shot so we ran away.  We 
ran and ran without light because we dared not light a fire.  Then we went to 
the cave.  The children kept falling down but we picked them up and pulled 
them because they couldn't walk.  Even when we'd already got out of the place 
they were still shooting their gun.  When we came back to look later we could
see a lot of shell pieces." - man over 40 from a village in Papun District.  
SLORC troops took up a position on an adjacent hill and began a mortar 
barrage of the village without warning, then marched in after all the villagers 
had fled and burned every house. (KHRG #97-12)

"The Burmese tried to run after us like a hunter tries to catch animals in the 
forest.  Even after we had left they were still looking for us. We couldn't
think of building a house - if we heard a gunshot we had to flee."  - Woman 
aged 60 from a new free-fire zone in Papun District describing life in
hiding in 
the forest (KHRG #97-12)

"... if they see someone in the forest they kill him.  They killed 2
children in  
Koo Ray Hta, close to my village.  I don't know their names, but one of them 
was 5 years old and the other was 8 years old. They were children.  The 
Burmese saw the children in the forest so they killed them.  They hacked them 
and killed them with a knife." - Man aged 40 from Maw Thay Hta village, 
Papun District (KHRG #97-12)

In Papun District of northern Karen State, people whose villages were burned 
by SLORC troops in the months leading up to rainy season were hoping for a 
rainy season respite so that they could continue living in hiding in forest 
shelters close enough to their fields to grow a crop. However, SLORC has 
continued to send out "search and destroy" patrols throughout the rainy
By the end of June, KHRG had compiled and confirmed a list of 73 villages 
which had been completely burned and destroyed and 4 others which had been 
partly burned.  An independent visitor who just returned from the region has 
updated this list to 93 villages, and more are still being destroyed.  This
not include the shelters in the forest where villagers have been hiding - SLORC 
patrols have been specifically searching out these hiding places to burn and 
destroy these shelters, causing villagers to flee yet again.  The troops
target rice storage barns in order to wipe out the villagers' food supplies,
bushwhacking their way to hard-to-find hiding places just to burn one or two 
small rice barns. Troops are also revisiting villages they have already burned, 
just to look for any trace of villagers and to burn any remaining buildings or 
sheds which they accidentally missed the first time.  Any villagers seen in the 
area are shot on sight.  [For details see "Village Destruction in Papun
KHRG #97-12, to be released shortly.]

"They stay near the village, but they always have to run away and come back.  
It's not easy to get food there.  We had to go back to steal our food that
was left 
behind in the village, and they shot at us two times but no one was wounded.  
There is only enough food left for 3 months.  After that, they will have 
nothing." - man aged 40 from the Bilin River area in eastern Nyaunglebin 
District describing the situation for the people living in hiding around his 
village since it was burned by SLORC (KHRG #97-12)

"We didn't know that they were coming - if we had known we would have run 
away. They came into the village and they immediately shot at the villagers so 
we couldn't run away anymore.  The children were playing volleyball, they saw 
that and shot at them. ... People ran away and they ran after them. They 
arrested us and tied us all up, and they made us carry things." - man aged 46 
from Meh Way area, Papun District, who couldn't escape when SLORC troops 
entered the village (KHRG #97-12)

"They both died this year.  There was about one month between their deaths.  
My mother hanged herself and died because she didn't want to live anymore, 
and my father was sick and when we ran away to the forest he died.  It was at 
the beginning of this month.  The Burmese came and shot at us so we ran 
away.  They burned all 15 houses.  We had nothing left. They had burned 
everything. ... Another person died.
His name was Tay Htoo.  He was about the same age as my father.  He had 5 
children.  He went to get some food, the Burmese shot at him and killed him." - 
girl aged 21, second-eldest of 9 children who fled the Papun free-fire zones 
after both of their parents were dead (KHRG #97-12)

"They stay in the village and they ask for porters, shoot the cattle and the
and steal our chickens.  They wait along the road for the cattle traders, they 
demand one cow from them and then let them go.  They don't bring their 
rations, instead they ask rice from the villagers and the villagers have to
them.  I was not a porter but I had to give money - each month 200 Kyats for 
porter fees, and twice a month we have to give other fees as well.  Then for
Captain who came and stayed there, we had to give 10,000 Kyats.  I don't know 
why, maybe for the soldiers' salaries.  ... He asked for the money so we had to 
give it.  They move around that area, and porters have to go with them and 
carry their things and ammunition in the rain." - Karen church elder (M, 45) 
from Waw Raw township describing the main activities of the SLORC troops 
who have now occupied Dooplaya District (KHRG #97-11)

"In my family, they tortured about 10 of us.  My nephews and nieces, my 
grandchildren, ...   They had to suffer mostly in the same way.  If they put
person in the hole for 3 hours, then they do the same to everyone.  They put 
them in, take them out to demand guns, then put them back in again, out and in 
again... all the time.  The troops that torture the villagers are from #44 
Division.  Then another group came and oppressed us more than them, and 
afterwards another one came and oppressed us even more.  I couldn't stay there 
anymore and face all these problems." - church elder (M, 57) from Kya In 
township describing life since the SLORC occupation of Dooplaya District 
(KHRG #97-11)

In Dooplaya District of central Karen State, the SLORC offensive launched 
in February has completed its work of capturing Karen-held territory. Karen 
troops continue to operate as small guerrilla columns throughout the area, 
harassing the occupation forces.  SLORC claims to have brought "peace" to the 
area, and the testimonies of refugees who fled in the first few weeks after the 
occupation indicated that SLORC troops appeared to be minimising their usual 
human rights abuses in areas directly adjacent to the Thai border, in the
hope of 
drawing the refugees back and also to give the Thai authorities grounds to
them back.  However, at the same time SLORC troops in the newly-occupied 
areas just 10 or more kilometres further inside were already restricting the 
movements of villagers, forcing them to work on military access roads, and 
looting villages.  Now that the areas have been occupied for a few months, the 
general clampdown appears to be widening and worsening.  Many of the 
masses of troops used for the offensive have now been rotated out and replaced 
by longer-term troops who are there to establish camps and consolidate SLORC 
control over the area.  In the southern parts of Dooplaya District, the
troops from #44 Light Infantry Division who temporarily occupied the villages 
have now left and been replaced by troops from #22 Light Infantry Division 
and some other Infantry and Light Infantry Battalions who will probably be
there for the longer term.  These troops are going repeatedly from village to
village, accusing every village of being "Kaw Thoo Lei" or KNU, and 
demanding that they hand over all of their guns.  There are few Karen soldiers
in the area and they only occasionally pass through the villages, so the
have no guns or knowledge of how to obtain any.  As a result, people in 
every village are being detained, beaten, and tortured while the soldiers
that they "give the guns".  Villagers who have been Karen soldiers in the near 
or distant past, village headmen, and church leaders are being especially 
targetted, and at least one village headman (U Kyaw Ta, age almost 50, from 
Klih Tu village in Ye township) has been beaten to death.  Even when they 
realise the villagers have no guns, the soldiers demand that they obtain
some in 
any way possible.  The desperation of the soldiers and their remarks to the 
villagers indicate that they have probably been given orders to come back with 
guns or face serious punishment from their officers.  Demanding guns from 
villagers is a standard tactic of SLORC Army officers, who can then submit 
false reports to their superiors that they have been engaging the enemy without 
actually taking any risks.  The villagers have no guns and no way of obtaining 
any, so many of them are fleeing into hiding, to other villages or to the Thai 
border between visits by the troops.

"Some people say that if we stay in Burma we cannot escape from the Burmese.  
"If the Burmese come, no one should run", say the elders.  The elders say: 
"Stay!"  But the Burmese elder also ran.  He was the first one to run.  When
Burmese came, they beat him until he could not eat for one day."  - village 
headman aged 31 from Waw Raw township, Dooplaya District, describing the 
new SLORC occupation of his area (KHRG #97-11)

"The whole village was beaten and the village head as well.  It was at the 
beginning of this rainy season. They were asking for guns.  When the people 
said we didn't have guns, they started beating people. They tortured our
leader and now he has already died.  They beat him with a stick, they hit him 
with a gun butt and they shot him with a slingshot.  They burnt him with a
they beat him with a rock and they cut through his skin with a knife.  I saw 
him.  He was a tall man. He was completely bruised and black.  After the 
Burmese tortured him, he went to the hospital in the morning, but the hospital 
wouldn't accept him [for victims of shootings or beatings, written passes from 
SLORC officers are required for admission to hospital].  So he came back to
the village and died in our village.  He was the secretary of the village.
 His name was Kyaw Ta."  - man aged 21 from northern Ye township talking 
about the increasing clampdown since SLORC troops captured Dooplaya 
District to the north. (KHRG #97-11)

"They were demanding guns.  They didn't get any guns, so they tortured us.  
We are only villagers.  How can we have guns?  But they ordered to find some 
and give them.   How can we find guns and give them?  We don't have any." - 
man aged 35 from Kya In township, Dooplaya District, who was tortured when 
SLORC troops occupied his village (KHRG #97-11)

The arrests and torture are augmented throughout Dooplaya by the increasing 
demands for forced labour building new Army camps and portering supplies 
and ammunition for the Army, looting of rice, livestock and possessions by the 
troops, and demands for extortion money in the form of 'porter fees'.  As
part of 
the clampdown, an increasing number of villages throughout Dooplaya are now 
being forced to relocate.  At first, small villages, particularly if they
were in 
remote areas, and villages from which most of the population had fled were 
ordered to relocate to larger villages.  Since then, people living on the
of many villages have been ordered to move their houses into the centre of
village. Now, since the beginning of rainy season in May/June, SLORC troops 
in southern Dooplaya have begun entering stable, established villages which 
are not close to Army camps and ordering them at gunpoint to move to 
SLORC-controlled locations near Army camps or along main roads.

The troops generally order the villages at gunpoint to move within 3 to 6 
days, and in some cases they then stay in the village to watch the villagers 
dismantle their houses and ensure that they move to the designated site.  
Once at the relocation sites, the villagers get no food or help from SLORC, 
but they still have to give food and money to the troops.  They are not 
allowed to work freely in their fields, generally being allowed only to leave 
the relocation site in the morning and return by evening, which makes it 
impossible to get any work done in cases where their fields are any distance 
away.  They are not allowed to sleep at their field huts, and even while 
working in their fields with valid movement passes some villagers have been 
arrested and beaten or taken as porters.  All of this is happening during 
rainy season, which is the crucial rice-growing season, and it is preventing 
most villagers from growing a crop sufficient to feed their families for the 
next year.  Making it even worse, this year the rains have been so heavy that 
many crops have been damaged or wiped out.  As the villagers can expect 
no support from SLORC, when their rice runs out they will have to starve 
or flee.  Villagers report that even villages which have not been ordered to 
move are disintegrating because so many people are fleeing torture and other 
abuses, particularly the repeated demands for guns and the detention, beatings 
and torture associated with this.  [For more details see "Clampdown in 
Southern Dooplaya" (KHRG #97-11, 18/9/97), and an upcoming KHRG report 
on increasing abuses in northern Dooplaya.] 

"They didn't torture me every day, just once a week or so, but then they 
did it so badly that I became unconscious. ...  The first time they tortured
they hit me with a gun barrel and they kicked me with their boots and they hit 
my head.  They punched me on my ear and it was broken.  For 3 days when I 
was passing urine it was only blood, and when I passed stools it was also
I thought I would die.  I will show you the scars.  This one is from punching.  
On my head there are many scars.  They also rolled a bamboo pole over my 
shins.  They ordered me to stretch out my legs, they put the bamboo over my 
shins and two soldiers on each side of me rolled it very heavily. ... They
dug a 
hole in the ground 4 plah x 5 plah, like a bunker [1 plah (elbow to
fingertip) is 
about 1 1/2 feet]. ... They put logs on the top of the hole and left only
one gap to 
get in.  I couldn't stand up inside.  They put me in there and then covered the 
opening with a plastic sheet so I couldn't breathe inside.  They put me in that 
hole once, for the whole day. After that, I couldn't see properly.  When the 
opening was covered, it was hard for me to breathe.  I could sit and lie down 
but I had to stay inside breathing little by little, slowly. ... Kyaw Pay
was also 
tortured. He is 30 years old.  They tied Kyaw Pay's wrists behind his back and 
put a bamboo pole through under his two arms like this, and they hung him on 
a tree like that.  Then they kicked him and one of his arms went loose [they 
disjointed his shoulder].  He was tortured for one day and then they released 
him.  He couldn't hold anything in his hands anymore."  - male villager aged 
45 from Kya In township describing torture methods used by the SLORC 
occupation troops in Dooplaya District to force villagers to find Karen guns
them (KHRG #97-11)

"We had to move at the beginning of the rainy season.  When it was already 
raining heavily.  We didn't know why, they just ordered us to move.  In May, 
the soldiers came to the village by themselves and waited there with their guns 
watching while the villagers had to dismantle their houses.  The big houses are 
built of wood and we stripped the wooden planks off of them.  All the houses 
had to be destroyed within 6 days.
The bullock carts had to carry our things to Ker and we didn't have any 
time to work any more."  - man aged 50 from Waw Raw township, Dooplaya 
District, who fled after SLORC forced his village to move (KHRG #97-11)

"When #44 [Division] entered the area, the villagers heard that they were 
torturing people a lot so they all ran here and there.  I told them not to
run.  I 
said if the Burmese make trouble for the villagers, I will face it.  We
don't want 
our church and our congregation destroyed, our congregation scattered, and we 
don't want our village and our families destroyed either.  So when #44 Division 
entered, I faced them in the village.  I had to solve their problems for
them, so I 
became a leader among the villagers. ... Then #22 Division came into the 
village and they ordered me to go and see them.  I thought that I had done 
nothing wrong so I went.  When I met their group, they asked me to sit down 
beside the Captain and he told me, "Don't tell me anything. Only when 
I ask you questions, then you must answer me.  Otherwise you mustn't question 
me or say anything."  Then he told me many things, and he accused me of 
having two guns and one walkie-talkie and ordered me to bring them to him.  
Later on, he interrogated me three more times. ... After that, he said to me: 
"You are choosing the way to death!"  I had to go and bring these things [guns 
and a walkie-talkie] to him but I had nothing, so I couldn't.  Then he ordered 
me to get them from anywhere I could and bring them back to him. I couldn't 
do that either.  So the Captain tied my hands behind my back.  They tied up 
many people.  They tied people up in the garden under the trees.  First they
people with a rope, then they tied the rope to a tree, and they had 3
sentries to 
guard each group. ... I can't say exactly how many were beaten,  but I know 
more than 10. ... They kept me like this for two days and one night. ... They 
didn't beat me but they beat the others and dunked their heads in the Tha May 
river.  Some were beaten and kicked until they were bleeding.  Some escaped 
but they still haven't returned home yet.
The man tied to me was not beaten, but later on they ordered him to be a porter 
and send him to another place, about 5 or 6 miles away..."  - Baptist pastor 
aged 41 from Kya In township in Dooplaya District who wanted to stay in his 
village after the SLORC occupation, but found it impossible (KHRG #97-11)

The SLORC offensive further south in Tenasserim Division may have 
disappeared from the media, but it is still going on.  There is continued 
fighting, and at the same time SLORC is trying to consolidate its hold over 
areas it has already captured.  While the situation continues to be very 
unstable, it is likely that SLORC will work toward establishing a similar 
situation to that in the areas just west and south of the offensive area - in 
these areas, SLORC has forcibly relocated at least 60 villages and created 
large free-fire zones, and is using the relocated villagers as forced labour to 
build new roads back into their home areas so that Army camps can be 
established to control the area.  These free-fire zones continue to exist, 
villagers are living in hiding while SLORC patrols increasingly roam the 
area, but now the offensive has cut off any possibility of running away for 
the villagers, who are living in increasingly desperate circumstances.
Because of the offensive, many who had fled to take refuge in areas held by 
the Karen National Union have now had to flee back into the free-fire 
zones, where they have to live in hiding and face the possibility of being 
shot on sight.  [For more information see "Free-Fire Zones in Southern 
Tenasserim" (KHRG #97-09, 20/8/97).]  

"I can't guess why they come and torture us.  I can't guess.  We didn't 
do anything to them.  We are not people who gather ammunition and go 
against them.  We are just farmers.  Our work is farming and harvesting.  We 
didn't do anything to them, but they came and burned.  We didn't do anything.  
If we had ammunition and fought against them and then they burned our 
houses, then we would not be sorry." - man aged 48 from a free-fire zone in 
Tenasserim Division who was ordered to move, had his house and village 
burned and destroyed by SLORC troops, and now lives with his extended 
family of grandparents, 9 children and close relatives in a small shed in the 
forest. (KHRG #97-09)

All of this is happening at a time when Thai authorities are denying asylum 
to any new refugees, which they now insist on calling "displaced persons 
fleeing fighting", and stating that refugees can go back home because "there 
is no more fighting".  Refugees in camps in Thailand are facing ever-increasing 
restrictions on their movements, they are being forced to fence in their own 
camps, and more and more often refugees who break any of the rules face 
threats, beatings, or worse by Thai soldiers.  In new refugee camps such as Ban 
Don Yang and Ban Tam Hin, refugees have lived through the entire rainy 
season under flimsy plastic sheeting simply because Thai authorities refuse to 
allow them to build houses in these 'temporary' camps, and they have 
repeatedly been refused permission to build any kind of school.  It is clear
Thai policy is to make life so miserable in refugee camps that the refugees
decide it is worse than life under SLORC.
What they do not realise is just how bad it was under SLORC in order to 
make these refugees take the desperate option of flight to a strange and 
foreign country.  Most of the refugees have no intention of going back 
voluntarily as long as SLORC continues to act in its current fashion.

The approaching dry season will bring a very different situation in Karen 
areas of Burma.  This will be the first dry season when SLORC can take 
advantage of almost full control of Karen State and Tenasserim Division, 
and it is likely to use this control to severely clamp down on and control the 
civilian population.  We are already seeing the beginnings of this in 
Dooplaya District, but with the end of the rains it is likely to get much 
worse.  This may be accompanied by an offensive to establish SLORC 
control in Papun District, which if it occurs will probably lead to the 
destruction of the rice crop so desperately needed by the villagers in hiding 
there.  At the same time, SLORC's new membership in ASEAN and the 
resulting increase in SLORC-Thai cooperation can only lead to worsening 
conditions for refugees who manage to make it to the border.  For both the 
democracy movement throughout the country and the villagers of rural eastern 
Burma, the coming dry season could prove to be a watershed time.  
For the villagers, it is not a dry season they are looking forward to.

"They kept me in the church for 12 hours, the whole night, and the next 
day at noon they moved me to another place along the Tha May river 
and they tortured me again.  They rolled a piece of wood on my shins.  
They tied my feet in the air, my hands behind my back and hung me up 
[hanging upside down].  They hit me so many times that I couldn't count it, and 
I was bleeding here and there and here...  My whole body was swollen.  They 
beat me with a piece of wood, on my head, my body, my feet.  They hoofed me, 
kicked me with their boots and beat me until I was broken.  You wouldn't have 
recognised me if you saw me then.  They tortured me until I was unconscious.  
I didn't vomit because I swallowed it.  I didn't want to show them that I was 
really hurt."  - 
Karen village boy aged 18 from Waw Raw township, Dooplaya District, 
describing what happened to him when SLORC troops came to his village 
and demanded guns from the villagers (KHRG #97-11)

"The people from Ta M'La village haven't fled.  We stay.  Nobody has fled yet, 
we stay.  Our livelihood is there, if you leave you have no livelihood so we
and live there.  We have nowhere else to go, so whatever they order us to do we 
must do.  When they don't order us to work we work for ourselves.  When they 
order us to go we leave our work and we go to build the road.  If we have 
children then we send the children to build the road and we stay behind to do 
our own work.  The people who have no children, they stay as one so they have 
to go as one. If we go somewhere else how will we live?" - man aged 51 from a
village on the southern Tenasserim River who has to do forced labour on roads 
and at army camps (KHRG #97-09)

"Regarding the above subject, the gentleman's [i.e. your] village tract has not 
finished work on roads and bridges such as smoothing the road and clearing the 
scrub along the road.  Therefore, as soon as you receive this letter come to
Army Camp and report. ...  If you fail it will be your responsibility, sir."  
- SLORC written order to a village in Pa'an District demanding labour on the 
Pata - Daw Lan road (KHRG #97-10)

"People would shake when they heard U xxxx's voice.  For example, if some 
villagers didn't have enough rice, they would sell one cow to get money to buy 
rice.  Then if he heard about it he would come and take all the money, saying 
that the villagers are illegally trading.  If I planned to buy a bullock to
work in 
my field and he heard about it, he would come and take all my money and say 
that I was illegally trading.  They arrest all the traders, take their money
divide it among themselves. Then if their shares are not equal they fight each 
other.  No one is free to sell anything.  We have to ask their permission and 
give money for a pass before we can do anything."  - Buddhist widow aged 49 
from Pa'an District who had to flee after being repeatedly arrested and beaten 
by DKBA troops, describing how a DKBA operative controls her village 
(KHRG #97-08)

"In the daytime they demand it, at night they just steal it." - man aged 37 
from Myawaddy Township, Pa'an District, discussing ongoing SLORC and 
DKBA looting (KHRG #97-08)

"Nobody had guns or was wearing uniforms - we were all only civilians.
The soldiers just saw people running and shot them.  They knew for sure that 
they were villagers, they shouted "Don't run!", but the villagers were
afraid of 
them and ran and they shot at them.  Three of them were running through the 
field, and two of them were hit.  Pa Kyi Kheh was hit in the middle of his
He was hit twice.  My younger brother P--- was also wounded.  The people who 
didn't run saw their friends get shot, so they ran too and then they were also 
shot at by the soldiers.  The Burmese say if we run they will shoot - so
they did
shoot.  One villager dead, one wounded."  - villager from eastern Pa'an
who witnessed the shooting of 2 villagers in a farmfield on 26 June 1997 
(KHRG #97-08)

"How old are you now?"
"Many years.  The mountain people never count our ages, we look at 
our children and know.  Now my youngest child is over 10 years old.  I 
thought too much about my son, when I went to the fields I thought 
about him, when I asked him to work for me I saw him work here and 
work there, but now I don't see him anymore.  I became old and needed 
him to help me, now they've come and shot him dead and they've gone.  
Some day the people who killed him will have to survive like me."    
- woman aged over 50 in Pa'an District mourning the loss of her
20-year-old son, who was shot on sight in a farmfield for no reason by DKBA 
and SLORC troops on 26 June 1997 (KHRG #97-08)

"The SLORC don't give trouble to the [Karen] soldiers, they just give 
trouble to the civilians.  When the Burmese shoot, it is the villagers who 
have to suffer.  We don't know exactly why they do this.  The head of 
our village has to go to see the Burmese every day, and he told us the 
Burmese said to him: "The Karen are like a tree.  If you cut the trunk, 
branches will come up again, so you have to dig out the roots so it will 
never grow again.""  - Karen villager aged 50 from Waw Raw township, 
Dooplaya District, discussing the strategy of the current SLORC 
clampdown in his area (KHRG #97-11)

"I couldn't open the school because people [meaning SLORC and 
DKBA] wouldn't allow it to open.  Later I asked people there, "Did the 
school at Toh Thu Kee already open?"  People told me it had opened 
but only for 2 weeks - then the Ko Per Baw asked for 100,000 Kyats, so 
the school had to close. ...  Now I think it won't be easy to open the 
school this year.  If they [SLORC and DKBA] allow us then we can 
open it, otherwise we cannot.  Last year we opened it and they asked, 
"Whose school is this?"  We said it's the villagers' own school, it's not a 
Kaw Thoo Lei [KNU] school, not a Buddhist school, not a Burmese 
school, just our own village school.  But whenever the Army came we 
had to close the school. ...  Once they arrested one of my teacher friends 
and he had to be their porter for over a week.  His name is Saw H---.  
We were teaching together when the column of soldiers came, so we 
closed the school and went to the monastery.  We had no time to run, so 
we  let all the children go home, it was just the two of us.  Then the 
Burmese arrested him and made him a porter.  They also arrested me, 
but the monk came and told them, "This man has to look after the 
monastery", so they let me free. ...  All are afraid of the Burmese. If 
they know you're a teacher, they will ask many questions, like "Where 
did you go to school?" and things like that.  [Any teacher suspected of 
having been educated in KNU territory would be arrested.] ...  We have 
no way of knowing what they [SLORC] are thinking, we only know that 
they are the Burmese and that whatever they choose to do to us we 
simply have to face it.  Even if we are teachers or headmen, if they see 
us away from our place they will take us and keep us for no reason. We 
are Karen, and we have to think and know about these things.  If they 
enter the village and they see anyone running, they shoot them dead. If 
you don't run, they make you a porter for 2 or 3 days.  So everyone runs 
away as soon as we hear they are coming." - Karen schoolteacher aged 
30 from the hills of Pa'an District describing the difficulties when villagers 
try to open a school for their children (KHRG #97-08)

"We're not making things up behind the backs of the Burmese.  I want 
to tell you this to report it because what they are doing is really true, 
they are torturing us like this without mercy and we cannot bear it. I 
don't say this just to tell bad things about them.  It is the very truth.  Our 
soldiers are weak and there is no fighting.  Why are they treating us like 
this?"  - Karen village boy aged 18 from Waw Raw township, Dooplaya 
District, who had been severely tortured by SLORC troops (KHRG #97-11)

                            - [END OF REPORT] -