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Special Posting from KHRG (2 of 2)


April 19, 1998     /     KHRG #98-C1

** PART 2 OF 2** 

Further south, in Pa'an District and Dooplaya District of central Karen
State, the SPDC is at the stage of consolidating control by using villagers
as forced labour to construct networks of roads throughout the region and
new Army camps all along those roads, while at the same time doing
localised forced relocations of villages where they cannot be conveniently
controlled by an Army battalion.  In Dooplaya, much of which was only
occupied by the SPDC in February 1997, an entire network of roads is  being
constructed and/or improved, primarily centred on the main trading  village
of Kyaikdon and radiating outward in all directions.  In mid- February 1998
two convoys totalling 50-70 military trucks loaded with  convicts from
prisons in other parts of Burma were brought to Kyaikdon  and Saw Hta to
begin forced labour on several of these roads.  Each truck  was packed
tightly with 30-50 prisoners, so the total may be anywhere  from 1,500 to
over 3,000 people.  However, villagers also continue to be  used as forced
labour on roads around Kyaikdon.  In the area of the 'hump'  of Dooplaya
which projects into Thailand and in some areas right along  the Thai border
further south, most SPDC and DKBA units are not using  local villagers as
forced labour except as guides; instead they are bringing  in civilian
forced labour for portering and other work from further inside  Burma, from
as far as Pa'an and other towns.  Many of the porters seen in  the area are
ethnically Burman.  The apparent reasoning for this is to  prevent
villagers near the border from fleeing to Thailand, to lure refugees  in
Thailand into returning and to make it easier for Thai authorities to
justify forced repatriation operations.  

 "The Burmese persecuted us until we couldn't stand it anymore, so we  came
to our religious center [in Thailand].  They came last April.  When  they
arrived in the village, the villagers fled. So they called the villagers
back to the village.  At that time, they did not use the villagers to be
porters.  They started using the villagers to be porters after the
villagers  were all back in the village for a long time.  They forced us to
work for  them.  They forced us to build buildings for them first, and
after we  finished the buildings they started to use us as porters.  They
told us that  they would go just over there, but then they went for 2 to 3
days. They  forced us to carry very heavy things.  Bags of cement, bullets,
we had to  carry anything that they needed us to carry for them. Although
we could  not carry the things we had to try hard until we could.  Not only
the  people from Kwih Law Der, but also people from Kwih Kler, Kwih Chit
Mu, Meh Tharaw Hta and Maw - more than 100 people." - Dta La Ku  villager
describing life since the SLORC/SPDC occupation of Dooplaya  District

Further inside in the central plain of Dooplaya things are somewhat worse
for villagers.  SPDC troops have a very heavy presence at Saw Hta,
Kyaikdon and all other main villages, and villagers continue to be used for
forced labour.  A recent visitor to the Kya In area, along the Atayan River
in the west of the district, reports that all small villages in the Kya In
/ Kya  In Seik Gyi area have now been given orders to relocate to big SPDC-
controlled villages.  Muslims continue to be persecuted and banned from
most areas where they previously lived, particularly the Kyaikdon area in
the central plain of the district.  According to villagers from Kyaikdon,
SPDC troops there have threatened to kill any Muslims in the area, and
there is a population of Muslims who have 'converted' (at least in public)
to Buddhism because this is the only way they can still live there.  All
civilians with motor vehicles in central Dooplaya are now forced to use
them to carry SPDC Army supplies, and the owner must even pay for the
fuel.  Army trucks are not used because they are possible targets for KNLA
attack.  On 24 March, a villagers' car carrying SPDC supplies was blown  up
by a KNLA landmine, killing a man and his child.  No compensation  was
given.  SPDC authorities in Kyaikdon say they want to 'develop'  Kyaikdon,
and have been realigning and reparcelling much of the land in  the village.
 In the process there are reports that some of the betelnut  orchards,
which occupy much of the land in and around the village and are  central to
the livelihood of the villagers, have been cut down.  All villagers  who
want to live in Kyaikdon, including those who have always lived  there and
never left, are being forced to 'buy' their land, even if their house  is
already on it.  SPDC authorities have divided all land in the village into
plots big enough for a house and small surrounding garden, and villagers
must pay 50,000 Kyats to the Army to buy their plot.  If their house and
garden already span more than one plot they must buy as many as  necessary
to keep their land.

"Even when we were in our house they came to our house and  demanded
chickens. We let them take what they wanted , but when their  Sergeant came
with a big truck he saw our coconuts and took the  coconuts without asking
permission.  Then he went and took his  soldiers' gun and shot at the
coconuts [in the tree] to destroy them.  If  you speak, they tell people,
'You are very clever to speak, so I  will kill you'. ... They threaten
people and say, 'Now you are in our hands.  If we  decide to kill you, you
can't do anything.'" - Karen villager who fled the  SPDC occupation of
Dooplaya ________________________________________________________________

In Pa'an and Dooplaya Districts, the SPDC has also added a twist to its
usual program for consolidating control; here they are largely using proxy
armies, namely the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), which has
existed since 1994, and the newly-formed "Nyein Chan Yay A'Pway"
(literally, "Peace Force", though they have told some village leaders that
their English name is KPA, for Karen Peace Army).

The DKBA was formed in December 1994 and immediately helped the  SLORC to
capture the Karen headquarters at Manerplaw.  At that time  most of its
troops were ex-KNLA soldiers who were disgruntled with the  Karen National
Union (KNU), and it had a reasonable amount of civilian  support from
villagers who felt the same way and were tired of the  deadlocked political
situation and the constant Four Cuts operations they  had to face from
SLORC.  Though on the surface this was presented  (particularly by SLORC)
as a Buddhist-Christian split, it was not; most  Buddhists remained with
the KNU, while some Christians went to the  DKBA (and there are still
Christians in the DKBA today).  Since then,  almost all of the former KNLA
soldiers have left, and now most DKBA  soldiers are villagers who joined at
one point or another because of the  inducements offered.  The DKBA
probably still numbers around 1-2,000  troops, but it no longer has any
sense of political direction, the command  structure is weak or nonexistent
in most areas, and it has almost no support  anymore from the civilian
population, who are more disgruntled than ever  with the KNU but now view
the DKBA simply as an SPDC militia.  The  DKBA operates primarily in Pa'an
and Thaton Districts, with some troops  also in Papun District, usually as
small local units attached to the local  SPDC battalion.  They collect
money from villages and passenger cars on  the roads, and they act as
guides for SPDC patrols, helping to round up  food, money and forced
labourers for the SPDC soldiers and pointing out  suspected KNU
collaborators.  In Pa'an District, SPDC has put them in  charge of
supervising forced labour on construction of some roads, such as  the Pa'an
- Myaing Gyi Ngu road and the Myaing Gyi Ngu - Meh Th'Wah  road.

"This is to inform you that the gentleman's village should send 100  bamboo
ties, 5 bamboo [poles], and 100 [shingles of] thatch to Lu Baw  village on
the 10th for the use of Frontline Light Infantry Battalion #12  without
fail." - SLORC written order to a village in Pa'an District, June  1997
(Report #98-02)

"Frontline Light Infantry Battalion #12 needs rotating servants, so you
gentlemen in each village should send (   2   ) to Kyaw Ko village today.
Chairmen should also come with them." - SLORC written order to a  village
in Pa'an District, June 1997 (Report #98-02)

The DKBA headquarters is still at Myaing Gyi Ngu (a.k.a. Khaw Taw Pu)  on
the Salween River.  Karen visitors report that there are several thousand
households of villagers there, simply because if they stay there they do
not  have to do forced labour for the SPDC.  They still have to do forced
labour on pagodas and roads for the DKBA, but this is seen as much less
dangerous, with much less chance of being beaten to death or otherwise
abused.  Villagers living there are not allowed to farm or eat meat, and
they receive small rations of rice and occasionally yellow beans, all
provided by SPDC.  However, the SPDC has stated that it will only supply
Myaing Gyi Ngu for "four years and one month", in other words until the
end of 1998, and after that time it is unclear what will happen to Myaing
Gyi Ngu.  The KNLA has recently attacked the headquarters twice, the
latest attack being on 24 March 1998.  They were targetting DKBA leaders
including U Thuzana, founder and patron monk of the DKBA, but U  Thuzana is
almost never to be found in Myaing Gyi Ngu or among the  DKBA anymore and
the DKBA is too thinly spread to have more than a  few soldiers in Myaing
Gyi Ngu.  According to soldiers involved in the  latest KNLA attack, some
houses were burned, up to 15 or more villagers  may have been killed and 70
more wounded, but no damage was done to  the DKBA leadership.  Throughout
March a number of other DKBA bases  were also attacked by KNLA troops with
varying degrees of success.  The  only real beneficiary of this fighting is
the SPDC, and the junta seems  more than happy to create the conditions
under which Karen will fight  Karen.

To further this end, a new proxy army has now been created to the south in
Dooplaya District under the leadership of Thu Mu Heh, the former  commander
of KNLA 16th Battalion who was notorious for corruption and  abuse of
villagers.  When SLORC attacked Dooplaya in February 1997, he  surrendered
his battalion without a fight in a deal which had clearly been
prearranged.  Most of his troops fled rather than join him, but  SLORC/SPDC
have now set him up with an army of his own, the Karen  Peace Army (KPA).
Thu Mu Heh promoted himself to General, and the  SPDC made a big show in
the media of handing him "authority" over all  of Dooplaya, from Kawkareik
in the north to Three Pagodas Pass in the  south.  It is a large area, but
Thu Mu Heh only has an estimated 200 or 300 recruits so he is now actively
recruiting villagers.  Villagers throughout  Dooplaya are being told that
if they join the KPA, their house will be  marked and their family will no
longer have to do forced labour for the  SPDC.  

The KPA is also targetting the Dta La Ku for recruitment.  The Dta La Ku
are a Karen religious minority who have very strict beliefs and practices
which in some aspects resemble Buddhism, in others Christianity as well  as
Animism.  They are very devout, following strict codes regarding food,
dress and lifestyle, and many other Karen regard them as being particularly
holy and having special powers.  The men are easily recognisable because
they grow their hair long and wear it in a top knot, held by a kerchief or
bandana.  The Dta La Ku number an estimated four or five thousand,  living
in certain villages of Dooplaya and a small part of Thailand adjacent  to
the Burma border.  About 1,500 of them fled to Thailand in September  1997
due to forced labour after the SLORC/SPDC occupation of their  villages,
but most of these have returned to their villages over the past one  to two
months after agreements were reached that the DKBA would keep  them from
being used continually for forced labour.  Over the decades the  Dta La Ku
have been caught between many sides in the struggle all trying  to coerce
or force their support, including the KNU, the DKBA and the  SLORC; they
usually manage to stay independent, though they have often  paid a heavy
price for this in the form of retaliations by the Armies of all  sides.
Now the KPA is trying to force their support.  The four main  villages of
the Dta La Ku (Kwih Lat Der, Kwih Kler, Maw, and Kyaw  Kwa) have been
ordered to report the numbers of all Dta La Ku men and  boys aged 15 to 40,
and all of these are then to be trained as KPA militia  for their villages.
 Joining an armed group goes directly against the  religious beliefs of the
Dta La Ku and against their desire to remain above

politics.  So far they are refusing the order to become militia members,
though they report that they are in fear of what retaliation they may face
as  a result.  Dta La Ku elders and villagers report that if the SPDC and
the  KPA act against them, they will have to flee to Thailand rather than
join  the KPA.

"Now the problem is for the Dta La Ku people. Dta La Ku can't carry
weapons and become soldiers.  Everyone knows that we do not make  good
soldiers.  First they came to make the family list [of all families in his
village].  But after we gave them our family information, they  changed our
family list to the KPA list.  So we bravely stood up to them  and told them
that we would never enter into the Peace Army.  We told  them, 'If you want
to kill us, we agree to die, but we can't do their  "peace" work'.  They
needed us to become soldiers.  They would teach  us through their training,
they would give us guns.  So we said that we  couldn't do work which
involves carrying weapons and shooting people.   'If you kill us we agree
to die.'  So they got angry with us and told us  that they will report us
to Than Shwe and the UN.  We said do as you  like, if you want to report to
Than Shwe, we don't mind [Than Shwe is  Chairman of SPDC].  If you want to
kill us we will let you kill us.  That  is our problem. ... [Another
villager added:] Lone Shwe [a KPA officer]  said that if we don't do as the
others do, it means we are their enemies.  Yes, he said that." - Dta La Ku
villagers from Dooplaya District

"To get people into the KPA they didn't say that people must become  KPA,
they just said that they wanted to know how many families there  are in
each village and how old the people are. After that, they said that  men 15
to 40 years old must become KPA.  Only the Dta La Ku.  They  will take all,
because they already know our number and our ages." -  Dta La Ku villager
from Dooplaya District

Once the KPA has finished its training it is hard to predict how it will
operate; however, its words and actions thus far appear to indicate that it
may try to work on a village militia basis, sending many of its trainees
back to their home villages to exert direct KPA/SPDC control.  This  would
probably make life much more difficult for the villagers in terms of
forced labour and extortion (particularly given the known corruption of
Thu Mu Heh himself), though it may also reduce the number of villages in
the central part of the district which SPDC troops would otherwise force to
relocate.  For example, Thay Pa Taw village was initially forced to move
by SLORC/SPDC, but now the KPA is telling them to return to their  village.
 The SPDC and KPA may decide to impose a system whereby any  village which
fails to provide KPA recruits is forced to relocate. The SPDC appears to
favour the KPA over the DKBA, whom they have  never trusted; this is
understandable, given that the DKBA was originally  formed with the idea of
Karen autonomy in Karen State, whereas the KPA  has been formed by a
corrupt officer with no interests except money and  power.  When it gave
authority over Dooplaya to the KPA, the SPDC  ordered the DKBA out of
Dooplaya with the exception of a strip of land  along the Thai border from
Myawaddy down to and including the "hump"  of Dooplaya which projects into
the Umphang area of Thailand.  Villagers  from Dooplaya have already
reported that the KPA and the DKBA cannot  stand each other, and it is
possible that the SPDC will pit the two groups  against each other in the
future.  With the KNU, the DKBA and the KPA  all fighting each other, Karen
against Karen, SPDC control of Karen State  couldn't be easier.  (The
current situation in Dooplaya District will be  covered in an upcoming KHRG
report.) ________________________________________________________________

"I want to say this.  If you are not carrying weapons and I'm not  carrying
weapons, we see each other and sit together and talk to each  other in
peace.  If you and I are both carrying weapons, then it is not  easy for us
to sit together.  We will have to be afraid of each other and  stay far
from each other.  If neither of us have weapons, we don't need  to be
afraid of each other, we will sit closely and talk to each other.  So it
is not easy for us to answer [to groups which ask them to take sides].  If
we carry weapons, the other groups will think about us, "Are they our
enemy?"  And then they dare not come to sit with us. So we don't want  to
do bad things like that.  Real peace is to sit together like this." - Dta
La Ku villager describing the dilemma of the Dta La Ku, who are always
being pressured to take up arms for one side or another

One feature of the war in Karen State which has become depressingly
routine is the repeated cross-border attacks into Thailand to burn and
destroy Karen refugee camps (the 1998 camp attacks will be covered in an
upcoming KHRG report).  On 10 March 1998 just before midnight, a jeep  and
several motorbikes drove into Huay Kaloke refugee camp, home to  almost
9,000 Karen refugees, through the main gate.  Thai soldiers  supposed to
guard the gate had left.  The vehicles drove through the camp  with their
headlights off, dropped off some people and then left.  Then at  12:30 a.m.
another group of attackers were dropped off from trucks in a  field on the
opposite side of the camp and entered the camp, firing M79  grenades and
rocket-propelled grenades ahead of them, firing assault rifles,  and then
setting fire to each house as they passed.  They marauded through  the
entire camp, burning 84% of the houses and shooting up the entire  camp
before leaving.  There was no resistance by Thai forces, who had left  the
camp before the attack, just as they have done in almost every refugee
camp attack since 1995.  In fact, in this attack many refugees believe they
recognised the vehicles which brought the attackers as Thai Army  vehicles.
 36 refugees were wounded by bullets, shell fragments and burns.  A
pregnant woman named Ma Pein was shot and then burned to death in  the
camp, and a 7-year-old boy named Pa Lah Ghay was hit in the head by
shrapnel and died on the way to hospital.  One entire family tried to hide
from the shooting in a concrete well behind their house, but the intense
heat from the burning bamboo turned the well into an oven and they were
all very severely burned by the time they got out.  Their 15-year-old
daughter died of her burns 3 days later.

"The soldiers arrived first at the bank of the stream and they did not
start to shoot yet; they were lining up and they were setting up their
mortar.  When I saw them, we started to run and then they saw us and  they
fired their guns.  They fired guns first and then shells of big  weapons
started to land. Then the soldiers separated themselves in two  groups in
front of my house. There were more than ten soldiers in each  group.  They
started to burn the houses as soon as they entered the  camp.  I told my
family, "Don't take anything, we will run".  I ran with  my wife and my
child. My wife could not put her slippers on, nor could  my mother-in-law.
I couldn't carry anything, not even my blankets. ...  My mother was
wounded.  She was wounded in the back by a shell.  I  think it was a shell
from a mortar, a 2 1/2 inch shell.  They fired the  mortar from near the
mango tree. Now she is in the hospital but she can  talk..." - refugee at
Huay Kaloke who saw the attackers enter the camp

"When we were asleep we heard explosions from section one and  section
four, we were afraid and we ran.  When we ran to the field, a  shell landed
in front of us and we ran quickly.  We said, 'Run, run!', we  did not stay
here.  Some were shouting, some were running, some were  crying, some were
running but they had no sarong." - Karen woman  refugee from Huay Kaloke

"I heard the explosion and I ran to the toilets [the concrete toilets at
the  school].  They saw me and they fired their guns near the toilets. ...
I  stayed in the toilets until the fire went out.  I didn't see them
because I dared not get out.  I dared not lift my head up to look outside.
They shot  nonstop.  The shell of a big weapon landed near me so I dared
not lift up  my head.  But I heard them going and swearing in Burmese when
they  came and shot up the school's library." - man from Huay Kaloke
refugee  camp

"...my brother was in our house trying to gather our clothing, food and
blankets.  He was hurrying to follow us, but luckily while he was  grabbing
the bottle of my children's milk powder in his frightened  hands, he
dropped the bottle.  Just as he bent to pick up the bottle a 2- and-a-half
inch shell exploded behind my house.  That shell wounded 6  people behind
my house." - woman refugee from Huay Kaloke

"The first shell hurt a teacher and a boy.  Then they shelled nonstop  with
M79 and 2 1/2 inch.  So many children were hurt by the shells.   Girls and
boys were wounded.  They had bad injuries.  A pregnant  woman was shot and
then burned to death in Section 2 behind camp  leader Mary On's house.  Her
daughter was hurt as well, by a shell  fragment in her hip.  Her daughter
is only 9 years old.  There were 4  members of a family who were terribly
burned, and the youngest  daughter died 3 days later. ...  Another sleeping
family was also injured  [by shell fragments] - the mother was hit in her
left breast.  Her 9 year  old daughter was hit in the left side of her
head.  Her 7 year old son was  hit in his right shoulder and his left
hand." - Karen human rights  monitor living in Huay Kaloke

The refugees fled to the camp monastery, which wasn't burned, and the
fields surrounding the camp.  Between 2 and 3 a.m. the Thai soldiers
reappeared and wandered through the field, telling the refugees to sit
still  and beating six people.  Three days after the attack, Thai soldiers
went  around ordering all the refugees to go back and stay in the ashes of
the  camp, telling them that if they didn't obey then the Thai Army would
burn  the makeshift shelters they'd put up and push them back to Burma at
gunpoint.  During the attack, DKBA soldiers had told refugees that they
would come back after 3 days and kill anyone who remained in the camp,  so
the refugees were very afraid of obeying the Thais but they had no  choice.
 They still remain in the ashes of the camp, in the dirt under  makeshift
shelters of straw and plastic sheeting, waiting for the Thai Army to decide
their fate. ________________________________________________________________

"We are afraid and we go and sleep outside [the camp] every night.  We  are
afraid of Thais, Burmese, and DKBA; everybody.  The Thai soldiers  said,
'Don't stay here.  Gawlawa [white foreigners] won't look after you.   Go
back to Burma.'  We are afraid.  The Thai soldier who talked to us  was the
one who stays at the checkpoint.  He told us, 'I told you to go  back to
Burma and you haven't gone.  Why do you trust the Gawlawa?   We are bigger
than the Gawlawa.  If we block the road then the  Gawlawa's rice won't be
able to come.  If we send you, you must go  back.  You have a country.  Why
don't you go back?" - Karen woman  refugee from Huay Kaloke talking about
the situation after the camp attack

Fifty kilometres further north at Mae La (Beh Klaw) camp, home to over
30,000 Karen refugees, fears of an attack began when a small group of  DKBA
troops crossed the border on 15 February and tried to fire M79  grenades
into the camp.  The grenades fell short, but this was the  beginning of a
series of border incursions that culminated in a large  DKBA force
entrenching itself in Thailand while DKBA and SPDC forces  on the Burma
side of the river fired mortar shells at a Thai Army post, a  Thai village,
and the refugee camp itself, setting fire to some houses in the  Thai
village of Nya Mu Kloh and wounding Pa Kyot Klot, a middle-aged  man in the
refugee camp.  The DKBA/SPDC troops on the Thai side of the  border also
laid some landmines around Nya Mu Kloh which later  wounded 3 Thai soldiers
and damaged their vehicles.  The force on Thai  soil continued trying to
evade the defences and attack the camp, but failed and eventually went back
across the border.

The night of the 22nd of March, a combined DKBA/SPDC force crossed  the
border and attacked Maw Ker refugee camp, 40 km. south of Mae Sot  and home
to about 8,400 Karen refugees.  About 50 houses were burned  and 14
refugees were injured, including 4 who were seriously wounded.   Refugees
who witnessed the attack saw a group of SPDC soldiers staying  back behind
the monastery in order to support the attack force if necessary,  and they
believe that SPDC troops were also in the group which went to  burn the
houses.  Up until this attack, Maw Ker camp leaders had always  had an
arrangement with the DKBA unit across the border to prevent the  camp being
attacked.  Refugees heard from contacts across the border that  when SPDC
ordered this attack, the DKBA unit refused so the SPDC had  to bring in a
special unit of DKBA based 100 kilometres to the north in  Pa'an District,
led by commander Maung Chit Thu (the same DKBA  leader who attempted to
attack Mae La; he is well known in Pa'an  District).

"I was not sleeping when I heard the heavy weapon, I was   breastfeeding my
child.  I went down to the ground and my husband told  me, 'Don't run, they
are firing big weapons and a lot of shells are  landing'.  I dared not stay
so I took my child and I ran outside the  house.  My sarong was falling
down so I told my husband, 'Carry the  baby'. ... A lot of bullets landed
in front of me. I covered myself like this [with her hands] and when they
started firing I was wounded in my  hand." - Karen woman refugee from Maw
Ker camp

"The DKBA burned the houses and they called out, 'Burn, burn!'  They  spoke
in Pwo Karen.  I could hear because I stayed inside the bunker  when they
started to burn the houses. ... The Burmese were behind  them - they stayed
behind the monastery, and the DKBA didn't burn the  monastery. The Burmese
fired their guns until the DKBA called to them  in Burmese language, 'Don't
fire, don't fire!'  And then the Burmese  didn't fire." - Karen woman
refugee from Maw Ker camp

"There were casualties in section one and also in section three. In
section one there were my daughter and two others who got just a few
fragments.  One is injured on her hip and another in his leg.  The one  who
got injured in the leg, the pieces entered his thigh. ... The baby  there
is only seven days old, he got injured and his father, his mother  and his
whole family got injured. Now there is no one to take care of  him so I
help him.  His mother is in very bad condition, the shell  fragments
penetrated her lungs, all over her back and in her buttocks." -  Karen man
refugee from Maw Ker camp

The situation in the refugee camps continues to be extremely tense.  Many
refugees in Mae La and most of those in Noh Po refugee camp (in the
Umphang region opposite Dooplaya District) have dug bunkers near their
houses.  Near Noh Po refugee camp in the week leading up to 27 March,  Thai
soldiers reported that SPDC troops were entering Thailand every day  to
look for weaknesses in the border defences; each time, the SPDC  patrols
would continue into Thailand until they were seen by Thai soldiers, then
withdraw.  Thai soldiers in the area admitted they cannot effectively
defend Noh Po camp, yet the refugees continue to be held in the camp like
prisoners, with no permission to leave or reenter.  As the DKBA has been
withdrawn from the area opposite Noh Po camp, if an attack comes it will
have to be conducted by SPDC troops, KPA, or possibly a DKBA group  brought
in from elsewhere, as was the case in Maw Ker camp.

Though only the major attacks attract much attention, there has been a
constant stream of small-scale attacks on both Karen and Thai civilians
since 1995.  However, it is in the large-scale attacks which destroy
refugee  camps that we see direct evidence of SPDC involvement, support and
 planning.  The logistics of planning attacks on several camps at once
(such as the early 1997 attacks, when 3 camps were attacked the same night)
and  transport of DKBA soldiers long distances through Burma and Thailand
to  the camps, the shelling support from SPDC positions across the border,
and the eyewitness accounts that some of the attackers are Burmans, all
point to direct SPDC involvement in all of the main camp attacks.  (The
1998 refugee camp attacks will be covered in an upcoming KHRG report.)

"About twenty or thirty came. I saw Burmese soldiers and DKBA, I saw  all
of them. I don't know what they were wearing, it looked like the  Burmese
soldier's uniforms. I dared not look anymore, I ran." - Karen  man refugee
from Maw Ker camp

"They looked like drunkards.  They had taken the medicine.  They  looked
like fools.  When they take the medicine they don't know  anything and we
are afraid that they will kill us.  We dare not go near  them. We are
afraid of the DKBA and of the Burmese.  The Burmese  are friendly to the
DKBA, but what they may do one day to the DKBA we  don't know." - woman
from Huay Kaloke refugee camp.  The DKBA  attackers are usually on 'myin
say', an amphetamine-type drug common in  Burma and Thailand, which makes
people aggressive and stupid

The Thai Army has also clearly been complicit in almost every major
refugee camp attack.  Until this year, this complicity took the form of
withdrawing from the camps several hours before they were to be attacked,
and in some cases (such as Baw Noh camp in 1995) deliberately disarming
the Karen camp security force before the attack occurred.  However, if it
is  true that the Thai Army helped to transport the attackers through
Thailand  to burn Huay Kaloke refugee camp on 10-11 March, then Thai
complicity  has reached an entirely new level.  Already there have been
many cases  over the past year of refugees being beaten, and even in some
cases killed, by their Thai guards, Thai looting of refugees' houses,
attempted rapes, and  other abuses.  The refugees have absolutely no faith
in the Thai Army or  any aspect of Thai authority, and international
protection is clearly needed.

"We can't trust in Thai soldiers.  They do not dare to shoot.  They will
never shoot, even when their duty is to shoot." - Thai Karen villager near
Noh Po refugee camp, answering whether he believes the Thai Army will
defend the border

In theory, protection should be the role of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and it now appears that the Thai
Government is finally about to allow the UNHCR a role in the camps;
however, the UNHCR has consistently proven throughout the world that it  is
more interested in protecting governments from refugees rather than the
other way around.  It is important that the international community watch
the UNHCR with extreme skepticism and suspicion to make sure the  agency
does not follow its usual pattern and immediately launch into  negotiations
with the Thai Army, the Thai Government and the SPDC to  reach an agreement
on a forced repatriation which the UNHCR could then  legitimise with its
false stamp of "Volrep" (this word, coined by UNHCR  and short for
"Voluntary Repatriation", is used as both a noun and a verb  by UNHCR
officials whenever referring to any repatriation operation).   The refugees
deserve much better than that.  At great risk and at great loss  they have
managed to escape a regime that has vowed to control every  aspect of their
lives, to use their lives for its own purposes, and to take those lives
whenever it wants.  Now they at least deserve the right to  determine their
own fate. ________________________________________________________________

"Now we have to be afraid of the SPDC Army and the Thai Army as  well.  The
Thai soldiers are not kind to us, because the Thai  Government wants to
drive us back to forced labour, portering and  hunger in Burma.  I believe
we need a safer place for refugees. ... Then  we need a UN Army to provide
security for us because we cannot trust  the Thais.  I have many Thai
soldier friends, and they've told me that  they really won't protect us.
They don't want to kill the SPDC Army.   They are not brave in battle, they
are only cruel to refugee people.  I  have been in Thailand for 14 years,
and I know very well about the Thai  spirit.  They love only money.  If we
can pay money to them then they  pretend to care for us, but when they
finish spending the money they no  longer pretend to care.  Their faces and
mouths show their hearts." -  Karen woman refugee living in Huay Kaloke

"On 14/7/97 there was a meeting for all Township and Village LORC
representatives in Karen State at Pa'an.  The Secretary of the Karen  State
LORC met representatives from Hlaing Bwe township about  agriculture and
regional development.  He told them to concentrate on  increasing rice
production and that there will be further increases in the  amount of quota
rice to be purchased, so the local leaders should  cooperate.  However, the
local leaders explained that many paddy fields  were destroyed by the
floods so this would be difficult to implement.   Also, the local leaders
said they were worried about starvation of the  villagers in the coming
year.  But the Secretary did not address the local  leaders' concerns.  He
changed the subject, saying that there will be a  new school built under
the local development program.  He said the  school would cost about
900,000 Kyats.  The Village LORC  representatives responded gladly to this
news for the sake of their  villagers. ... Then the State Secretary added
that the State would provide  300,000 Kyats, and the remaining 600,000
Kyats must be provided by the  local people.  The Village LORC
representatives thought of the villagers,  who are already under the heavy
burden of porter fees, and they replied  that in that case they don't want
a school, they just want one teacher and  they would arrange to build the
school by themselves.  The Secretary  appeared not to like this idea, and
he replied that there are not enough  teachers, so they could not send one
teacher.  He said that to get a  teacher is impossible." - letter from a
Karen villager in Pa'an District,  October 1997 (Report #98-02)

"We carried their things but they didn't call us porters, they called us
"Nga Pway ration officers".  Usually two of them would lift our loads  up
onto our backs, then if we were unable to stand up they would shout  at us,
"Nga lo ma tha, Nga Pway ration officer!" ["Fuck your mother,  you Ringworm
ration officer!"].  Then they stomped on us, and if we  were on the ground
we had to get back on our feet very quickly or they  would keep stomping on
us. ... A lot got sick but they didn't give them  any medicine.  They just
made them go on like that, and they lost porters  one by one. ... One was
very old and couldn't walk anymore, so a 3rd- rank soldier came and kicked
him and he fell on the path.  Then a 3- stripe soldier [a Sergeant] came
and said, "Uncle, don't you feel well?"   The man answered, "I am not well,
I can't even talk anymore", then  another 2nd-rank soldier came with a big
stone, threw it down on the  man's head and he died.  They often kill
people like that." - internally  displaced Karen man, aged 46, from Papun
District who was used for over  a month as a porter by a SLORC column which
was burning every village  in the area (Report #98-01)

"Pi Blu Paw":  [asking the interviewer]  Nephew, we stay in Kaw Thoo  Lei
and we always have to run like this.  Do you think that there will be
peace one day and that we'll be able to stay here and sleep in our house,
or will we have to run again?  Can we get our country?  Can you tell me  that?

Interviewer:  I can't answer you this. 

"Pi Blu Paw":  The Burmese try to force us to move to the town but we
don't want to go there.  They force us to leave and to go to stay with
them, and they surround us and hold us there.  I don't want to go.  What
do we have to do?  Can you tell me?

Interviewer:  I can't tell you.

"Pi Blu Paw":  We don't want to run to Thailand.  The Thai soldiers  give
us problems there, and the DKBA as well - but if we stay  here  SLORC gives
us problems and oppresses us.- Karen villager (F, 50) from  Paleh Der
village, Papun District (Report #98-01)

"I don't think there will be peace in our village.  In our village the main
things we have to know are how to run into the forest, where to run, and
to be afraid."- Karen villager (M, over 50) from Paleh Der village, Papun
District (Report #98-01)

"If they can't control us, they will kill all of us.  They order us to go
and  live with them.  Can we live with them?  We have grown up in the
mountains, we eat rice three times a day, we plant our fields.  How can  we
live together with them there?  We must stay here.  Our ancestors  stayed
here.  But they tell us to go and live there, to make peace with  them
there.  We don't want to live there.  We can't live like them.  People who
make peace with them must carry heavy loads as porters.  Then if  they
can't walk anymore the Burmese hack at their legs with their  knives, kick
them, kill them, so we dare not go to live with them. ... Now  we stay at
H---, we dare not go to Papun.  If we go they will capture us.   If they
only arrested us it wouldn't matter, we would answer whatever  questions
they ask, but they don't do it like that.  They put us in jail and  kill us
after they capture us.  Terrible!  We dare not go."- Karen villager (M, 36)
internally displaced in Papun District (Report #98-01)

"The Burmese can never make peace.  They always shoot us when they  come,
they only come to shoot us.  So how can they bring peace?"-  Karen villager
(M, 27) from Nyaunglebin District (Report #98-01)