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Special Posting from KHRG (1 of 2)

April 19, 1998     /     KHRG #98-C1

**PART 1 OF 2**

"The abovementioned villages must move and consolidate. ... Small villages,
 even those not included in the above list, must move and consolidate to
nearby consolidation villages before May 6th.  Villages which fail to move
will be destroyed." - SLORC written order listing 64 villages in Papun
District being ordered to move to military sites (Report #98-01)

"They said to us, 'People who won't come to our place must run away.
People who don't want to run away must come to us.  People who neither run
away nor come to us must die.'  As for us, we didn't want to go to their
place so we ran away and they burned all our houses." - Karen villager (M,
27) from  Shwegyin township, Pegu Division, after forced relocation
(Report #98-01)

In November 1997 the State Law & Order Restoration Council (SLORC) military
junta ruling Burma changed its name to the State Peace & Development
Council  (SPDC).  Many theories have been put forward on the reasons for
the name change,  but regardless of these, the SPDC has proven one thing in
its first 6 months of  existence:  that it is at least as hardline and
uncompromising as the SLORC ever  was, and that it remains committed to the
objectives of crushing all possibility  of freedom or dissent, controlling
every square inch of the country, and  gaining the daily power of life or
death over each and every citizen of Burma.

Wherever necessary, this means that the SPDC is continuing military
offensives  against ethnic nationalities - not only Karen, as is often
mistakenly reported  in the media, but also Shan, Karenni, Chin, Naga,
Burman and others.  If it is  useful to use the territory of neighbouring
countries to gain the upper hand in  these offensives, SPDC troops do so.
They have also shown that wherever refugees  escape them to neighbouring
countries they will not hesitate to organise  attacks on refugee camps,
using proxy armies such as the Democratic Karen Buddhist  Army (DKBA), the
Karenni National Democratic Army (KNDA), or the newly formed  Karen Peace
Army (KPA).  They cannot accept the thought of anyone from Burma  being
able to speak or act outside their control.  But while military offensives
and attacks on refugees tend to attract most of the attention on Burma,
there is  a far more destructive force being used throughout Burma by the
SPDC in its drive  to control every area and the life of every citizen.
These are its "Four Cuts"  operations:  systematic campaigns to destroy
villages and food supplies in all  areas of perceived resistance, to drive
the entire rural population into  military-controlled camps where they are
used as forced labour, starved, beaten,  raped and often killed.  These
campaigns of undeclared war against civilians  are now taking place to an
unprecedented extent throughout rural Burma.

The policy of the SPDC, and before it the SLORC, in the case of any form
of armed resistance has amounted to "drain the ocean and the fish cannot
swim"; in other words, to undermine the opposition attack the civilian
population until they can no longer support any opposition.  This is the
fundamental idea behind the Four Cuts policy (cutting supplies of food,
funds, recruits and intelligence to the resistance) which General Ne Win
initiated in the 1970's.  Many villages now being burned by SPDC troops
were first burned in 1975 when the Four Cuts were first implemented, and
some villagers speak of having been on the run from Burmese troops since
1975.  But even these villagers say that in the past 2 to 3 years things
have  grown much worse.  The direct attacks on the civilian population,
characterised by mass forced relocations, destruction of villages and the
village economy, and completely unsustainable levels of forced labour,
have now become the central pillar of SPDC policy in non-Burman rural
areas of Burma.  Where in the past 2 or 3 villages were destroyed at a
time,  now 100 villages are destroyed at a time.  The current SPDC plan for
 consolidating control over areas where there is resistance appears to
consist of the following steps:  1) mount a military offensive against the
area;  2) forcibly relocate all villages to sites under direct Army control

and destroy those villages;  3) use the relocated villagers and others as
forced labour, portering and building military access roads into their home
areas;  4) move more Army units in and use the villagers as forced labour
to build bases along the access roads;  5) allow the villagers back to
their  villages, where they are now under complete military control and can
be  used as a rotating source of extortion money and forced labour, further
 consolidating control through "development" projects, forced labour
farming for the Army, etc.  If resistance attacks still persist at this
last  stage, retaliation is carried out against villages by executing
village elders,  burning houses and other means.  The first 2 steps of this
strategy can be  combined or reversed in order in some cases.  Throughout
Burma we can  see examples where this process is at various stages:  in
central Shan State  and eastern Tenasserim Division, SPDC is working on
stages 1 and 2; in  Dooplaya District of central Karen State, which they
just occupied in early 1997, they are implementing stages 2 and 3; in the
free-fire zones of  southern Tenasserim Division (see "Free-Fire Zones in
Southern  Tenasserim", KHRG #97-09, 20/8/97) they are between stages 3 and
4;  while in most parts of northwestern Burma they have already reached
stage  5.  (See "All Quiet on the Western Front?", a January 1998 joint
report  between Images Asia, KHRG and the Open Society Institute.)  In
Karen  areas such as the Irrawaddy Delta and the western plains of
Nyaunglebin  and Thaton Districts they have also reached stage 5.

"We were all ordered to go to a temple in Keng Kham, one person from  each
house, and we were guarded there in a group.  Then the SLORC  commander
told us we had just the next day and the day after that to  move all of our
things.  He said that the last day was May 9th, and if we  did not move by
then we would all die.  He said it to us in the meeting  just like that -
but it wasn't really a meeting, because we were all  guarded like
prisoners!  That afternoon, we older people over 60 years  old were
released.  The younger people had to sleep there for one night.   Then in
the morning they took some of them as porters.  Just imagine -  they had
just ordered us to move within 3 days, and yet they still took  people as
porters!  How could people have time to move their things?   Some of their
wives even cried." - Shan man, 60, from Kunhing township,  Shan State, who
fled forced relocation

"Many don't have enough to eat.  Some have to beg along the road, and
people are crying all the time.  Some people take refuge in the
monasteries, some are staying at their relatives' houses, and some have
built tents out of plastic sheets under trees.  Many people are begging
around for food. ... [The SPDC soldiers] don't give anything.   Furthermore
they even take all the cattle and the belongings left in the  old villages.
 They take rice for themselves, they kill the cattle and make dried meat,
and then their wives and children sell the meat to the  villagers." -
Buddhist monk, 29, describing the situation around Lai Kha  town, Shan
State ________________________________________________________________

The most serious case of forced relocation and village destruction
currently occurring is in central Shan State, where over 1,400 villages
have  been relocated and destroyed by SLORC and SPDC since 1996 (see the
April 1998 Shan Human Rights Foundation report "Dispossessed", as  well as
"Forced Relocation in Central Shan State", KHRG #96-23; the  quotes from
the Shan villagers in this Commentary are from another  upcoming KHRG
report on the subject).  An estimated 300,000 people  have been made
homeless, and at least 80,000 of these have fled to  Thailand.  This
campaign against civilians is supposed to undermine the  Shan United
Revolutionary Army (SURA), a group which used to be part  of Khun Sa's Mong
Tai Army (MTA) until Khun Sa surrendered to  SLORC in 1996.  The SURA has
recently united with two other groups,  the Shan State Army (SSA) and the
Shan State Nationalities Army  (SSNA), which had ceasefire deals with
SLORC.  The new combined  force named itself the Shan State Army (SSA) and
has been trying to  negotiate with the SPDC, but the junta refuses to
recognise them and vows  that it will crush them militarily.  The
SLORC/SPDC campaign to  undermine the SURA and the SSA by destroying
civilian villages has been  a complete failure, but the junta's response to
this failure has simply been  to keep expanding the region where its troops
are ordered to relocate and  destroy every village.  This region already
spans 7,000 square miles in the heart of Shan State, and it is still
spreading like a cancer over the map as  more and more villages are
destroyed with each passing month of 1998.

"They came with guns and ordered us to move by pointing their guns at  us.
They came many times.  The first time, they said if they found Shan
soldiers in a radius of 10 miles they would kill us.  We had to sign four
times to say there were no Shan soldiers.  Every tract had to give money,
and we had to sign an agreement that if the SLORC found any Shan  soldiers
in the area, they would kill villagers.  Then after we signed with those
soldiers, other groups of soldiers came! ...  We had to give money  to
every group [of SLORC soldiers], then even after we had given money  to one
group we had to move anyway." - Shan villager (M, 58) from  Murng Nai
township, Shan State, who fled forced relocation

"They gave the villagers only five days to move, and they said that after
those five days they would burn the village.  I myself went to talk to the
soldiers and asked them not to make us move.  I went directly to the
commander.  He said, "You are all supposed to move for as long as the
opposition group stays in your village."  The Shan soldiers never come  to
the village, but according to the commander they do." - Shan woman,  22,
from Kay See township, Shan State, describing forced relocation

"Now the military bases are all around the towns.  There are about 10
bases, including the air base and all that near Nam Zang.  Now our  village
has not much workable land.  The military has confiscated it and  they want
to build a base there." - 36-year-old man from Nam Zang  township, Shan State

"We were ordered to move three months ago [in December 1997].   Within 17
days the village was supposed to move completely but before  these 17 days
were finished, after only 7 days they came and burned  down the village.
 ... My grandfather was killed in the fire.  My  grandfather was around 89
years old so he couldn't carry himself.  His  name was Loong Tchai.  My
parents had already moved to Pang Long  and the two of us were left in the
village." - Shan refugee (M, 24), from  Loilem township, Shan State

When the relocations began in 1996, villagers were given a few days to
move to Army-controlled sites near Army camps and along supply roads,
where they were then used as forced labour portering supplies, building
and maintaining Army camps, guarding the roads, clearing the roadsides,
maintaining the roads, and building a railway and an air base near Nam
Zang.  Many villagers were simply driven out of their villages and not
even told where to go.  When this campaign had clearly failed to  undermine
the Shan armies, SLORC/SPDC began ordering people at  relocation sites to
move yet again, to sites which were even more crowded  and central.  On 21
February 1997, SLORC troops even shelled Kho Lam  relocation site in order
to drive the villagers out.  Five villagers were  killed, including 2
children.  On June 16th 1997, two different SLORC  columns massacred
villagers at Sai Khao and Tard Pa Ho in Kunhing  township.  The villagers
had SLORC passes to return to their villages to  fetch their rice, but
these were ignored.  At Sai Khao 36 villagers were tied  up and
machine-gunned, and at Tard Pa Ho 29 villagers were similarly  executed,
including women and children.  The Sai Khao column was led  by the region's
Tactical Commander himself, and one SLORC officer told  a woman whom he
secretly released from the massacre that they had  received specific orders
by radio from higher levels to conduct the  massacres.  Throughout the
relocation region hundreds of villagers have  been shot dead on sight,
summarily executed by stabbing, suffocation or  drowning, and burned alive
in their homes.  The Shan Human Rights  Foundation has documented the
killings of over 300 villagers by SLORC  and SPDC forces, and even this
list is far from complete.

"I was sure I would be killed too!  I was shaking, shaking! I was sitting
and shaking all the time.  My blood was hot all over my body.  I could  not
think properly.  I would have run away, but they were standing there
guarding me.  There were 3 or 4 of them.  There were 6 of us:  4 girls  and
me and my baby. ... Then to the west I heard bursts of machine gun  fire.
We heard the shots.  The soldiers did the shooting.  We heard tat-
tat-tat-tat-tat!!  Shooting like that.  They were killing the 16 people.
Then after a just a bit I heard gunfire just nearby [killing the group of
10 or the group of three].  But it was all overgrown, so I couldn't see.
It  was only about 7 or 8 armspans away, but they wouldn't let me go and
see.  There were so many - the place was black with soldiers.  Wherever
you looked, there were soldiers.  Some were doing the killing.  Some  took
the carts to be burned.  They took and killed the cattle to eat, and  they
let some of the cattle go. ... After the shooting had stopped in both
places I asked if I could go, but they said I had to wait.  We were allowed
to go about half an hour after all the shooting.  Then they said I could
go, but I should run, and not to go on the main road. ... I was the only
adult survivor in my group.  The rest were all killed, except for the 3
women who were released and ran away before the shooting started.  I  think
I would be dead if I hadn't had my son with me.  One of the other  women
left her baby at home and her baby was even younger than mine.   She
squeezed out milk from her breast to show them that she had a baby  at
home, but the SLORC commander, the tactical commander himself,  just said
that her baby must have died, and that was why she hadn't  brought it with
her.  They killed her.  The captain [who was guarding  her group] said to
us that the soldiers had been ordered to kill any  woman with children over
7 months old. ... They'd taken away and  burned all our carts, shot all our
bullocks and shot dead all the others.   Only the children and I were left
under a tree. ... I had to walk to Keng  Kham with the children, carrying
my son on my back, all night and all  the next morning.  The children were
too young and we had to keep  resting under the bushes.  While we were
resting, a man walking like a  drunk came after us from the same direction.
 He was Nan Ti from Sai  Mon, and he was seriously wounded.  One of his
arms was almost  severed, and there were two bullet holes here in his upper
right chest  and two holes in his lower right chest.  I was terribly sick
at the sight.  I  asked him if the others were all killed and he said yes.
And I asked what  about him, and he said he'd fainted and when he came to
he just walked  away.  With blood gushing out of his wounds he asked me to
help him,  but I just couldn't.  I told him I would go ahead and ask other
villagers  to come and help him and he said yes.  I did tell the villagers
when I got  to a farming camp, but it was raining all night and no one
dared to go to  his rescue.  He died later, about half an hour's walk away
at Kho Sai  Mon bridge." - Woman aged 27 from Kunhing township, the only
adult  survivor of a SLORC massacre of 36 Shan villagers who'd gone from
Kunhing relocation site back to their villages to get rice in mid-June
1997.   The villagers all had SLORC passes to make the trip.

"The SLORC troops arrested these villagers and interrogated them,  asking
where were the SURA and where the SURA are based.  They said  these
villagers had given food to the SURA.  They arrested the men and  then beat
them for 3 days.  And then they arrested women and raped  them. After that
the SLORC troops covered their heads with plastic and  suffocated them,
then threw  some bodies into the Nam Pang River." -  Shan man, 60, from
Kunhing township, after listing 94 villagers from 12  villages who had been
killed by SLORC troops

"One of my brothers died [just before they moved].  He was killed by the
Burmese because they believed that he was supplying the opposition  army.
He worked in the forest so he had his things in the forest, and  that is
why they accused him of supplying the opposition groups.  They  accused him
and said, "Why haven't you moved yet?  Do you want to  keep on feeding
these opposition groups?"  After that he tried to take his  belongings and
start moving but it was too late.  They beat him and his  friend to death.
Then they used a knife and chopped their bodies into  pieces.  His name was
Sarng Hung.  He was my eldest brother, he was  more than 40 years old." -
Shan man, 26, from Murng Kerng township,  Shan State

Tens of thousands of villagers are struggling to survive in the relocation
sites, where they are constantly used as forced labour by SPDC troops who
give them nothing and even demand part of whatever little food or money
they still have.  Many are starving, unable to return to their villages or
fields for fear of being shot on sight.  People in the relocation sites and
those who have fled to the towns are now reduced to begging in the streets
or along the rural motor roads.

"More than a hundred soldiers were guarding us.  They came and took  our
belongings.  Sometimes they arrested some people and detained  them at
their place, they beat and tortured them and then they released  them -
especially the headmen of the villages because they were all  suspected of
providing things to the opposition army." - Shan man, 26,  from Murng Kerng
township, describing the situation at a relocation site

"There were two men at Wan Bang, in Wan Heng tract, Lai Kha  township [Wan
Bang had been forced to move to Tard Mok].  They were  staying at Tard Mok.
 They went to find their cattle at their old village. 

SLORC soldiers found them at that village and arrested them, tied them  up
with bundles of hay and set fire to them.  One of them died instantly.   I
don't know his name.  But the other, Kay Li Ta, came to receive  treatment
at Zai Lai for a while, and died there after ten days.  He was  32 years
old.  It took place in the second week of May [1997].  It was  soldiers
from #515 [Light Infantry Battalion] from Lai Kha that did it.   Kay Li Ta
had a family.  Now his wife and children are begging around  in Lai Kha
town." - Shan Buddhist monk, 29, from Lai Kha area

"The Burmese Army just kept on collecting money.  The Burmese  soldiers
demanded everything they wanted and so did the Shan army, so  the rich
became poor and the poor became poorer.  We were not allowed  to go out of
the town to farm.  If we did, they would say we have contact  with the Shan
army and they would shoot us.  The soldiers didn't give  any permission at
all to go, not even for one or two days.  If we went  outside to find
things to do we might be raped by the soldiers, not only  that but after
raping women they often kill them.  Nang Nu was raped  but not killed.
That was in December [1997].  Nang Nu was my friend.   Oh!  Life was very
hard in that place.  I was afraid, so I ran to  Thailand." - Woman aged 23
from Murng Kerng township describing life  after forced relocation

"They're also forcing the villagers to grow a kind of bean for the Army.
Each 10 households has to grow about 10 acres of beans.  Our village  has
to work on 10 acres.  Altogether there are thousands of acres like  that.
They took away all the land from the outskirts of the village to the edge
of the town, no matter whose it was.  There are no fences around  that
land, and if our cattle enter those fields then they're shot by the  Army.
 ... If the cattle put one foot inside the plot of land, the owner has  to
pay 500 Kyat for one hoofprint.  If we tell them who the owner is  they'll
fine him 500 Kyat, and if we don't tell them who the owner is,  they shoot
dead the cattle." - Shan man, 36, from Nam Zang township,  describing life
at a relocation site

Most young people and entire families who still have any money left are
fleeing to Thailand to try to find a way to survive there.  More than half
the population of some areas have already fled to Thailand.  First they
must be able to pay off SPDC soldiers at every checkpoint along the way.
As long as they can pay the SPDC generally lets them leave, because the
regime has always hated the Shans and is happy to see them go; next to the
Burmans they are Burma's largest ethnic group, they are related to the
Thais and have a very distinct culture, historically the Burmans never
succeeded in subjugating them, and with their population of 9 million or
more they are still seen as a threat to Burman domination of the country.
Beginning in late 1997 or early 1998, SPDC troops at the last checkpoints
before Thailand began confiscating the National Identity Cards of all
Shans heading for Thailand.  The cardholders are given a receipt and told
that they will be able to reobtain their cards when they return to Burma.
This is a very disturbing development, because a similar method has been
used since 1992 to strip Muslim Rohingya refugees of their identification
when they flee from Arakan State to Bangladesh.  If the refugees later try
to go home, the SPDC often denies that they ever lived in Burma.

"They [SPDC soldiers] checked whether we had ID cards or not but they
didn't stop us. [National Identity Cards (NIC) are supposed to be carried
by Burmese citizens at all times, but many non-Burman villagers do not  or
cannot obtain one].  If you couldn't produce your ID card you could  not
pass the checkpoints to go to Thailand.  They took our ID cards at  Ho
Murng and they said on our way back to Shan State we'll get them  back.
We'll have to pay something to get our ID cards back.  Some  didn't have
any ID card with them, and if you didn't have it you couldn't  get to Ho
Murng." - Shan man, 26, from Murng Kerng township,  describing his flight
to Thailand ________________________________________________________________

On arrival in Thailand, the Shan refugees must evade capture and forced
repatriation by Thai authorities.  In Thailand they are not recognised as
refugees and have no choice but to enter the dangerous market for illegal
labour.  Many of them are exploited and ripped off by their Thai
employers, while others end up as bonded labour in sweatshops or the sex
trade.  In March 1998 after SPDC troops had attempted to attack a group  of
Shan refugees in northwestern Thailand, Thai authorities for the first
time allowed this group of over 200 Shan refugees to move into an  existing
Karenni refugee camp.  However, they still have no recognition as
refugees, only as people who "fled fighting" when a battle happened near
the MTA's former headquarters at Ho Murng; so it can be expected, in
keeping with the current Thai policy of denying asylum to new refugees,
that the Thai Army will attempt to force these people back to Burma once
the situation "returns to normal" around Ho Murng and the SPDC  indicates
its willingness to "accept them back".

"Out of the people who have been forced to move, about 80% have come  to
Thailand.  Only about 20% went to the town.  There are many people  from
Shan State now working in lychee orchards, in cultivation, in  construction
sites, and also in shops, washing dishes...  almost every  shop, every
house has Shan servants now.  There are many young  women who have just
disappeared.  They have been sold to the flesh  trade.  Many people have
been exploited by their employers.  No one gets  proper wages.  The
refugees from Shan State have to suffer in this way."  - Shan Buddhist
monk, 29, from Lai Kha area

"I arrived here about one month ago.  We have nothing.  Life here is  also
miserable.  I owe some money to many people already and my  parents keep on
sending messages calling me to go back to them.  I  really want to go back
home, but I can't until I have enough money.   The money that we earn now
is not enough, it is just enough for  survival." - Shan refugee (F, 23),
who arrived in Thailand in January 1998

Crossing the border from Shan State into Karenni (Kayah State), we find a
situation which is equally desperate.  Starting in mid-1996, SLORC troops
began relocating and destroying about 200 villages covering most of the
geographic area of the state, driving 30,000 or more villagers from their
homes into forced relocation sites where they are starving and being used
as forced labour (see "Update on Karenni Forced Relocations", KHRG  #97-01,
5/3/97).  By mid-1997 most of the villages in central and eastern  Karenni
had been destroyed, but fighting between SLORC and the Karenni  National
Progressive Party (KNPP) continued.  SLORC then began  sweeping and
destroying all villages in southern Karenni, where the  campaign had not
been as rigorously enforced.  Since the beginning of  1998, there are
reports that the SPDC has now begun relocating and  destroying villages in
northern Karenni along the Shan State border.  This  had been one of the
few areas where villagers could still live because it  was protected by the
Karenni Nationalities People's Liberation Front  (KNPLF), which had a
ceasefire deal with SLORC.  The area also  provided refuge to some
villagers fleeing the relocations in other parts of the state.  However,
under the SPDC these ceasefire deals no longer  appear to carry any weight
when villages are to be destroyed.

"The Burmese came in and oppressed the villagers. They burned 15 rice
barns, 13 houses and they took all the people's boxes [wooden boxes  where
people keep their good clothing and valuables].  They took pots,  plates,
clothing and all our belongings.  They destroyed all the rice and  cut down
our paddy.  They destroyed all the tobacco and they made  holes in our
plates, the stepped on our pots until they broke into pieces  and they
destroyed all the thread we had for weaving.  They ate all the  fowl, the
chickens, the pigs, our cattle and buffalos." - Karen villager  (M, 25)
from Toh Thay Der village, Papun District (Report #98-01)

"When they arrived they shot pigs, shot chickens, burned the village and
the rice barns.  We ran up the hills and we watched them.  We saw them
when they came.  They fired their big gun [mortar] and we ran.  They  fired
the big gun twice, the first shell hit the lower part of the village and
the second shell landed right in the village.  Then they fired a lot with
their small guns.  If we'd still been in the village we would have died." -
Karen villager (M, 43) from Lay Po Kaw Tee village, Papun District  (Report

"They shoot their big and small guns when they come, and we run when  we
hear the sound.  They try to shoot the villagers.  They fire their big  gun
[mortar] at all the places where they guess the villagers might be, in  the
village, at the source of the streams and along the streams.  If they  see
villagers on their way, they shoot them." - Karen villager (M, 43)  from
Kheh Pa Hta village, Papun District, met while fleeing a SLORC  patrol
(Report #98-01)

Papun District of northern Karen State and eastern Nyaunglebin District,
which straddles the border of Karen State and Pegu (Bago) Division, have
always been areas of strong Karen resistance and SLORC/SPDC have  never
been able to fully control them.  The hills are too rugged and
inaccessible, supply lines are difficult to maintain through the rainy
season, and the villagers always disappear before they can be caught.  In
order to consolidate control over the area SLORC/SPDC would normally  mount
a major military offensive, but the Karen National Liberation Army  (KNLA)
does not hold any fixed territory there and is even more elusive  than the
villagers.  It therefore appears that the regime has decided to go after
the villagers first, clearing them out so that the KNLA will have  nowhere
to hide and no food to eat.  Whatever villages could be ordered to  move
were ordered to move, but in most of the villages the troops could  never
catch anyone to give them the order, so a decision was made to  simply
annihilate these villages without warning, destroy all food supplies,  and
kill as many villagers as possible, simply to wipe them out or drive  them
out of the region.  One SLORC written order dated 23 April 1997  told the
headmen of 64 villages that they must move to military sites, then went on
to say, "Small villages, even those not included in the above list, must
move and consolidate to nearby consolidation villages before May  6th.
Villages which fail to move will be destroyed."  The "small villages  not
included in the list", which number in the hundreds, never even  received a
copy of that order.  They were simply destroyed.

"They say that this is an enemy area, so they will destroy it.  Here they
don't tell the villagers anything, they just burn everything and shoot
everyone they meet.  Around here they have already burned Bo Kywe,  B'Na
Kwih Duh, Kyaw Law, Bwa Heh Der, Kaw Mu Bwa Der, Yeh Mu  Plaw, Thay Ko Mu
Der, Dta Meh Der, Dta Paw Der, Mu Kee Der, Ber  Baw, Kaw Weh Der - 12
villages." - Karen villager (M, 55) from Yeh Mu  Plaw village, Papun
District (Report #98-01)

KHRG has compiled a list of 192 villages in Papun and eastern  Nyaunglebin
Districts which had been burned and destroyed by the end of  1997, 105
villages ordered to move to military sites, and 62 confirmed  killings of
villagers by SLORC and SPDC troops (See "Wholesale  Destruction", KHRG
#98-01, 15/2/98).  None of these lists are complete,  and the destruction
of villages in the area is continuing now.  Since the  operation began at
least 23 SLORC/SPDC Battalions have been involved  in the operation at
various times.  Army columns of 50 to 300 men move  from village to
village.  On arrival near a village, the troops first shell it  with
mortars from the adjacent hills, then enter the village firing at  anything
that moves and proceed to burn every house, farmfield hut, and  shelter
they find in the area.  Paddy storage barns are especially sought out  and
burned in order to destroy the villagers' food supply.  Any villagers  seen
in the villages, forests, or fields are shot on sight with no questions
asked.  Villages very close to Papun, Meh Way and Shwegyin have been
ordered to move to Army-controlled sites such as Meh Way and the  Shwegyin
- Kyauk Kyi motor road, but the vast majority of villages have  been given
no orders whatsoever, they have simply been destroyed.  Most  of the
villagers in the area say they do not even understand why this is  being
done, and that they think SLORC/SPDC is just trying to wipe out  the Karen
population.  KNLA troops are not based in any of these villages,  and have
never yet been in a village when it was attacked.

"Then we built shelters above the village because we didn't dare live in
the village.  We thought we could plant a crop, so we had already  cleared
the weeds.  Then they came a second time, 2 weeks ago.  They  came to the
place where we were staying, so we had to run to this side  [of the river].
 Then when we were staying on this side they came back a  third time, one
week ago.  They came right here.  So we ran further that  time, and we've
just come back 3 days ago.  We can never stay in one  place, we have to
keep running like this.  We're very afraid that they'll  see us.  If they
come again we'll run further than before." - Karen  villager (M, 43) from
Lay Po Kaw Tee village, Papun District (Report  #98-01)

Most villagers in the region are surviving in leaf shelters or small huts
which they build in the forest and trying to continue taking care of their
fields.  Those whose paddy storage barns have not been destroyed  generally
share out their rice with those who have no more food.  Most are  living on
plain rice with some jungle leaf soup, and salt if they are lucky enough to
have any.  Almost all livestock has been left behind and  slaughtered by
SLORC/SPDC troops, who simply shoot it, eat a small part  and leave the
rest to rot.  Malaria and other fevers, diarrhoea, dysentery, and other
diseases are widespread and the villagers have no medicine  whatsoever.
Many children and the elderly have already died.  Some  villagers managed
to plant a crop in the 1997 rainy season, but in many  cases they had to
flee SPDC patrols right at harvest time.  In some areas  these patrols
deliberately burned or knocked down and destroyed crops  which were ready
for harvest.  SPDC patrols are now returning to areas  which they
previously burned out in order to seek out and destroy the  forest huts
where the villagers are hiding, destroy any remaining rice  supplies and
shoot any people they can find.

"... she was sitting in our hut, putting water in the hollow bamboos.   The
Burmese came quietly and shot her.  She never saw them, she was  inside the
hut and they came out of the forest.  They saw her in the hut.   I don't
know why they shot her dead, but then they burned the hut until  nothing
was left but ashes." - Karen villager (M, 55) from Yeh Mu Plaw  village,
Papun District, describing the murder of his wife by a SLORC  patrol in
June 1997 (Report #98-01)

"They told me the Burmese shot my husband in the leg and it was  broken,
but he was not dead.  After that they tortured him badly.  Then  they
stabbed him to death with a knife.  When I thought about that, I  didn't
want to live at all. ... It is best never to meet the soldiers.  If they
see people, they kill them all.  He just went to get betelnut leaves to
sell  so he could buy rice for us.  Now he has left me with my little
children.  I  couldn't do anything, but my friends shared with me what they
had.   Two of my younger relatives went and buried my husband. ... I
remember him.  I can never forget him.  While I was climbing up the
mountains with my children, I felt very tired, I couldn't go on anymore
and we fell behind, and still I remembered him.  I can't forget him, but
there is nothing I can do." - Karen woman, 36, from Yan Aung village,
Shwegyin township, Nyanglebin District; she lived in hiding in the forest
from March-December 1997 before fleeing to Thailand, and a SLORC  patrol
shot her husband dead in August (Report #98-01)

"When the Burmese were firing the big gun she went back, and they  saw her
and captured her.  I don't know what happened to her.  We  heard that they
tied up her hands and pulled her along with them to  Baw Kwaw, at the Bu
Loh Kloh.  We haven't heard that they've killed  her.  We've never seen her
again." - Karen villager (M, 48) from Kyaw  Law village, Papun District,
describing the disappearance of his mentally  handicapped sister-in-law
(Report #98-01)

"... they went to that stream, climbed the mountain and saw us at the
place where we were hiding, and they shot at us there.  They shot with
G4's [automatic assault rifles].  They shot at one girl but she was
running and the bullets ripped through her dress and tore part of it  away.
 They shot at me and didn't hit me, but the bullets went right  through my
sarong - they hit my sarong here, you can see the two holes.   I was
running.  Three of us got holes in our sarongs like these, and they  shot
at two young 'say mu wah' girls [unmarried young girls who wear  the
traditional white dress], the bullets tore part of their dresses away.  But
no one was wounded, and we ran." - Karen villager (M, 49) from  Paleh Der
village, Papun District (Report #98-01)

"His name is Saw Eh K'Lu.  He was a single boy, he was still in school.
 ... I am his father, here is his mother and this is his house. ... He was
outside the village.  We heard the Burmese coming and shooting, so we  ran
out of the village. But he didn't know, he came running back to the
village to see us and warn us, the SLORC saw him and shot him on the  path.
 He was just coming back to help his mother and father. ...They  shot him
in the arms, once here, once here [in both upper arms], and  both of his
legs also, here [both upper legs].  Two bullets in the head, in both sides
of the back of his head.  He was only 18 years old. ... When  they come to
our village they see us and shoot us.  They don't think of us  as human.
They know that we are just villagers but they want to  persecute us.  Man
or woman, they shoot everyone.  But they couldn't  shoot everyone, so they
just shot my son."- Karen villager (M, 49) from  Paleh Der village, Papun
District (Report #98-01)

At least 1,500 villagers from the area have managed to escape to refugee
camps in Thailand thus far, but this is difficult and dangerous because of
SPDC camps and patrols along the way and the landmines placed along  many
of the paths by the KNLA.  Making the difficulties even worse, in  the past
2 months Thai authorities have moved the refugee camps which  were nearest
to Papun District much further south.  Refugees crossing now  into this
sparsely populated area of Thailand will only encounter Thai  troops and
Thai Border Patrol Police who are there to conduct illegal  logging
operations in the Salween National Park, and these forces will  almost
certainly force any new refugees back across the border.  Refugee  aid
organisations and others have already been barred from the region by  Thai
authorities, so there will be no witnesses.

"We were living in the forest.  The Burmese came to burn us out, so we
couldn't stay there anymore and we came here.  We just arrived here the
other day.  We couldn't stay there anymore, because the Burmese  abused us
until we had no more food.  They destroyed all our rice and  paddy, they
burned all our food.  They looked for our shelters and  burned them.  Last
year we sowed rice in a little field, but they burned it.   We couldn't sow
any rice this year.  My wife died, only 8 months after  we were married.
When we ran in the forest she caught cold, then she  got a fever and died.
We came as only one family, myself and my  mother."- Karen villager (M, 30)
from Day Oo Koh village, Nyaunglebin  District, just after fleeing to
Thailand (Report #98-01)

"I'm afraid of Ko Per Baw [DKBA] and also of the Burmese.  Now we  also
have to be afraid of the Thais because we are in their country."-  Karen
villager (M, 37) from Papun District just after fleeing to Thailand
(Report #98-01)

"If the Thai soldiers say you must go back what are you going to do?" "I
can't even think about that.  We will just have to die.  Our life is very
difficult."- Karen villager (M, 40) from Papun District after arrival in
Thailand (Report #98-01)

"What if the Thai soldiers point guns at you and drive you back?" "We lived
there in fear, we live here in fear.  So what can we do?  We  must stay
here."- Karen villager (M, 30) from Nyaunglebin District who  fled to
Thailand in December 1997 (Report #98-01)

Just to the north of Papun District, there has also been a steady increase
in  SPDC troop numbers in eastern Toungoo District.  These troops have just
 completed construction of a military access road into the Bu Sah Kee area,
 which was formerly very difficult to access, and they have been
increasingly clamping down on the civilian population there.  At the same
time, SPDC troops are pushing a military supply road straight across
Nyaunglebin and Papun Districts to the Salween River, which forms the
border with Thailand.  This road is expected to be used as a springboard
for an offensive to secure the Salween River and the entire Papun region,
to block off KNLA supply lines and the escape routes of refugees and to
allow the establishment of new military camps and further sweeps through
the area to wipe out the Karen civilian population.  Contracts have already
been signed between SLORC/SPDC and Thai agencies to begin  construction on
dams along this portion of the Salween River, ad foreign  aid has already
been sought from agencies such as the Asian Development  Bank.  The
villagers are in the way.

They said they want to end the Karen nationality.  They want us to have no
food and no houses so that if we don't do something for our future we will
all die." -  Karen villager (F, 40) from Nyaunglebin District (Report #98-01)

"Why do the Burmese come and do all of this?"

"I'm not sure.  I think that the Burmese are fighting to rule over people.
But if they keep killing people like this, they will rule over nothing but
mud.  If they want to rule over people they should not kill them like
this."- Karen villager (M, 63), now internally displaced in Papun District
(Report #98-01)

"I'm not sure if I can stay here for a long time.  Even though I don't
know where to go, if I can choose I will stay here [near her home].   Maybe
we just have to run in the jungle and the mountains like this  until we die
by a Burmese bullet.  Until we die we feel afraid and we  run; some days we
don't know if we will die under the trees or under the  bamboo. ... If we
see a way to go to a safer place you can be sure that we  will go, because
we dare not stay here any more.  But for now we don't  see any way to go to
a safe place so we must stay here like this, work like this, eat like this
until we die, and then one's story is finished."- Karen villager (F, 49)
from Ku Day village, internally displaced in Papun District  (Report #98-01)