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The BurmaNet News: November 18, 199

Subject: The BurmaNet News: November 18, 1998

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
 "Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: November 18, 1998
Issue #1141

Noted in Passing: " Anyone who comes to this Church on Sunday we will shoot
dead." - sign posted by DKBA troops in front of village churches (see KHRG:


15 November, 1998 from <khrg@xxxxxxxxx> 


An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group

[Information Update is periodically produced by KHRG in order to provide
timely reporting of specific developments, particularly when urgent action
may be required.  It is produced primarily for Internet distribution.
Topics covered will generally be reported in more detail in upcoming KHRG

Continuing Hardships for Villagers in Northern Karen Districts

Villagers in the northern districts of Karen State and Karen areas of
eastern Pegu Division and northeastern Mon State continue to suffer SPDC
operations involving village destruction, forced relocations, uprooting of
their crops and forced labour.  Areas referred to in this report include
Taungoo (Karen name Taw Oo) District, Nyaunglebin (Kler Lwe Htoo) District,
Papun (Mudraw) District, and Thaton (Doothatu) District. This information
was recently reported by KHRG monitors based in or visiting these areas.
The situation in Taungoo District will be reported in detail in an upcoming
KHRG report.

Taungoo (Taw Oo) District

Taungoo District forms the northern tip of Karen State, sandwiched between
Karenni State to the east, Shan State to the north, and Pegu Division to
the west.  The vast majority of villagers in this region are Karen.  Many
live in small, difficult to access villages in the very steep and forested
hills covering most of the district.  Further west, the hills let off into
the gentler terrain of the Sittang River valley near Toungoo town.

For two to three years now the villagers in the western plain of the
district have faced heavy burdens of forced labour on roads, army camps and
the Pa Thee dam project, while some of their villages just east of Toungoo
town were forcibly relocated to make way for the dam.  Things have been
even worse for the hill villagers, as over the past two to three years the
SLORC/SPDC has steadily increased its troop presence in this previously
inaccessible area.  As troops moved in villages were burned and food
supplies destroyed, a road was pushed through the rugged terrain from
Bawgali Gyi (Kler Lah) to Bu Sah Kee for military access, and villagers
suffered from the forced labour on this road as well as demands for army
camp and portering labour.  Many fled into hiding in the hills.

Now most villagers are back in their villages in the area but are facing
increasing pressure from the military.  Most of the villages are now
referred to as "Nyein Chan Yay" ("Peace") Villages, meaning that the
villagers are supposed to be allowed to stay there peacefully as long as
they obey SPDC orders.  This includes the villages of Bawgali Gyi (Kler
Lah), Ye Tho Leh, Ye Tho Gyi, Kyaut Pon (Ler Ko), Kaw Soe Ko (Dtay Sein
Taung), and Kaw Thay Der (Pyaun Tho).  All of these are on or near the road
from Bawgali Gyi to Bu Sah Kee (this connects with the road up from Toungoo
town).  However, this road is only passable for about 20% of its length at
the moment, because the rains have destroyed the entire length from Kaw
Thay Der to Bu Sah Kee.  As a result, villagers in the "Peace" villages are
being ordered to provide porters.  They don't dare go so they must pay
money, and most of them can no longer afford to pay. Where the passable
road ends at Kaw Thay Der, the villagers must pay money and also go as
porters to carry supplies to outlying SPDC camps such as Naw Soe and Bu Sah
Kee.  Currently all of this portering labour is being done by women,
because if men go they are kept as porters for 2-3 months, or until they
die or escape, whereas if women go they are generally freed after 1-2
weeks.  Each "Peace" village has to send women to the closest Army camp
each day to act as messengers, and must also send shifts of villagers to do
forced labour clearing the undergrowth from the roadsides.

Battalions operating in the area include SPDC Infantry Battalions #26, 30,
and 48.  Villagers are punished if any fighting occurs in their area.  Two
to three months ago a column of IB #48 was ambushed near Kaw Thay Der
village and responded by going into the village, calling out all the
villagers and systematically beating them.  Villages which are not
considered as "Peace" villages because they are not under direct SPDC
control are open for destruction.  Saw Wah Der village has been ordered to
move to Kler Lah since several years ago but has never obeyed, so this year
all the best houses in the village (those with wooden construction and
metal roofing) were burned.  This village has been burned many times over
the years. Now some of the villagers have fled to Toungoo town, while
others live in hiding in the forest, where they cannot plant rice for fear
of detection. Instead they plant cardamom and sell it in the "Peace"
villages to survive.

Three years ago the villagers of Bu Sah Kee settled in the forest away from
their village for fear of SLORC abuses, and they continue to stay there.
They continue to grow their hillside rice crops, but whenever SLORC/SPDC
patrols come close they flee into the hills.  Some of their crops are
visible from the Infantry Battalion #26 camp in the distance, so in
September Major Myo Myint ordered his troops to go and destroy all of Bu
Sah Kee's rice crop, presumably with the logic that some of this rice would
be used to feed Karen troops.  On 6 September, IB 26 troops began moving
through all the ricefields, pulling up, cutting down or stomping down the
villagers' crops, which would not be ready for harvest until
November/December.  They managed to destroy approximately half of the
entire crop of the village for this year.  The 60 families of Bu Sah Kee
now expect that when they run out of rice they will have to find a way to
go and buy some in the "Peace" villages, but they have no money.  According
to the latest Karen National Union (KNU) reports, IB #26 continues to
patrol Bu Sah Kee; the KNU reports that on 30 October they opened fire on
Bu Sah Kee villagers in the fields who were trying to harvest some of the
remaining rice, forcing them to flee, while on 31 October they shot and
killed villager Pu Ee, age 60, and burned some stacks of harvested paddy
that they found.

The SPDC is now trying to build a road from Kaw Thay Der to Mawchi, a town
to the east in southern Karenni State.  They began building this road with
bulldozers early in 1998 but stopped work for the rains, and are expected
to resume soon.  Though they are not using forced labour on this road, it
passes directly through the ricefields of Saw Wah Der village. The
villagers had already begun preparing their fields for the 1998 crop when
construction began, but when all the SPDC troops came to build and guard
the road within sight of their fields they no longer dared to plant, so
many of them will have no crop this year.  Saw Wah Der village was later
burned (see above).

Villagers of Saw Wah Der, Bu Sah Kee and Klay Soe Kee (Ye Tho Leh) are now
all living outside their villages.  According to one report as yet
unconfirmed, SPDC forces in the area have given an order once again for all
villages in the area, including the "Peace" villages, to move to Kler Lah
and Kaw Thay Der.  The troops have been ordering this for over 2 years now,
but it remains to be seen when they will decide to clamp down and enforce it.

Nyaunglebin (Kler Lwe Htoo) District

Nyaunglebin (Kler Lwe Htoo) District straddles the border of Karen State
and Pegu Division, stretching as far west as the western side of the
Sittang River.  The plains in the west of the district are heavily
SPDC-controlled, while the Karen villages in the district's eastern hills
are more remote. For several years now SLORC/SPDC forces have tried to
destroy Karen resistance in the eastern hills, largely by forcing villagers
to move and wiping out their ability to produce food.  Many villages in the
parts of these eastern hills bordering Papun District have been destroyed
since 1997 as part of the SPDC campaign to wipe out Karen villages in
northern Papun and eastern Nyaunglebin Districts (see "Wholesale
Destruction", KHRG, April 1998).

According to the report of a KHRG monitor in the eastern hills, villagers
to the west in the plains must provide money to SPDC forces and also go as
porters and army camp labour, but it is the villagers in the eastern hills
who are suffering the worst.  In August, SPDC troops began burning more
villages in Ler Doh township.  Oo Ker Kee, Tee Nya P'Tay Kee, and Nah Kee
villages have been burned in this operation by Light Infantry Battalions
#364 and 365.  At Oo Ker Kee village, SPDC troops occupied a nearby hill
and then commenced shelling the village with mortars with no warning.
After the villagers fled, the troops entered and looted the village, then
burned it.  This is consistent with their village destruction tactics since
1997 in Papun and Nyaunglebin Districts.  The villagers from these 3
destroyed villages are now hiding in the forest with little or no rice to
eat. Part of their crop was destroyed, and they are not expecting to obtain
much from their fields this year.  Even the fields which were not destroyed
have suffered from the lack of rains this year.

Since July in the western part of Ler Doh township in the plains, SPDC
Infantry Battalion #60 has reportedly been ordering each village tract
(group of 5 to 10 villages) to provide 20 women to become 'pwa thi lah'
(Buddhist nuns) and to go and take residence at the monastery in Klaw Maw
village; this village also has a DKBA camp with an estimated 95 DKBA
troops.  There is a high proportion of Christians in these villages. Thus
far some village tracts have complied while others have not, and an
estimated 40 women have become nuns because of the order, some of whom were
previously Christian and some Buddhist.  DKBA troops have posted signs in
Karen in front of the village churches of Pah Dta Lah, Hee Po Der, and Mah
Bpee villages in this area of Ler Doh township, reading "Anyone who comes
to this Church on Sunday we will shoot dead".  As a result none of the
Christians in these three villages worship any longer on Sundays.  It is
important to note that neither of these incidents is consistent with
general SPDC and DKBA policy throughout Karen State.  The SPDC is
conducting forced conversions of Christians in other parts of Burma which
are almost entirely Christian as a method to divide communities; however,
the Christians are already a minority among Karens and therefore they are
generally left to practice Christianity, though the SPDC often tries to
instigate interreligious hatred.  Some DKBA commanders have systematically
persecuted Christians, particularly when the DKBA was first formed, but
most do not, and there are even Christians within the DKBA and many living
in a site across the Salween River from DKBA headquarters at Myaing Gyi Ngu
(Khaw Taw).  These incidents in Ler Doh township are probably local
initiatives by particularly intolerant SPDC and DKBA commanders.

Papun (Mudraw) District

Papun District is bounded by Nyaunglebin District in the northwest, Thaton
District in the southwest, and the Salween River and Thailand to the east.
Over 100 villages in northern Papun District have been systematically
shelled, burned and destroyed since 1997 by SPDC troops trying to eradicate
support for Karen resistance in the region (for details see "Wholesale
Destruction", KHRG, April 1998).  About 100 of these were ordered to move,
but many of the villages never saw the order because the villagers always
flee when SPDC troops approach.  In response, the SPDC launched a campaign
to simply destroy all villages without warning.

The situation in northern Papun District remains very similar to what it
was earlier in the year.  Most villages have already been completely burned
and destroyed, but SPDC patrols continue going through the area to burn any
trace of villages which still remain, food supplies, and the shelters of
villagers who are hiding in the forest.  These patrols have reportedly
mined and booby-trapped the burned remains of some villages, because they
know that villagers are in hiding nearby and that they frequently return to
scavenge for food, belongings and materials in the burned ruins of their
villages.  Villagers sighted in the region are sometimes taken as porters,
but are more frequently shot or otherwise executed on sight.  In Lu Thaw
township, at least 2 more villagers were executed on sight in September.
The vast majority of villagers are living in small clusters of shelters and
lean-to's hidden deep in the forests and high in the hills, trying to
access their old hillside rice fields or to clear small new ones in the
hills.  These fields have not yielded much, especially with the lack of
rain this past rainy season.  In September, SPDC patrols were sent through
Lu Thaw township to destroy rice crops where possible, and much of the crop
was cut down with machetes or stomped down by the troops.  Villagers in
hiding in the forest are living primarily on roots and jungle leaves.  Even
in areas where SPDC troops seldom arrive, such as Day Pu Noh area, there is
almost no rice available and villagers are surviving on rice soup, sharing
around whatever rice they can find or buy from town.  Villagers in this
region are much closer to Thailand than those in the other districts
mentioned in this report, but most of them do not want to go because of
their very close attachment to their land, their extreme fear of landmines
and SPDC troops along the escape routes, and their fear of abuse and forced
repatriation by Thai troops which they know may await them on arrival at
the border.

Thaton (Doothatu) District

Thaton District straddles the border of Karen State and northern Mon State.
 Being close to the coastal road and railway lines, this district is under
quite heavy SPDC control, and the DKBA also has a significant presence in
the eastern parts of the district.  Only small Karen National Liberation
Army (KNLA) units can operate in the area, so while there is sporadic
fighting in the area the villages there have not been systematically
destroyed in retaliation.  Several Karen villages near the Bilin and
Donthami rivers were forced to relocate to larger villages in 1997.  Some
of the people from the villages in the Donthami area are now reportedly
trickling back to try living back in their old villages or the surrounding
forests.  It is as yet unclear whether SPDC and DKBA troops will allow this
to continue.

When fighting occurs the normal response by SPDC troops is to detain and
torture local village elders.  This is accompanied in the area by fairly
regular and systematic looting, demands for money and forced labour as
porters and at Army camps.  The future of villagers in this area will
largely depend on the amount of activity conducted by the KNLA; assuming
that the KNLA continues to operate there, it is likely that the SPDC will
eventually clamp down further on the villagers by conducting further forced

Further details, interviews with the villagers affected and SPDC written
orders to villages in some of these areas will be presented in upcoming
KHRG reports.


16 November, 1998 


Burmese Military Intelligence (MI) has forced executive members of the
Palatwa township branch of the National League for Democracy (NLD) to
resign. The township NLD office was also shut down and all office equipment
and documents were confiscated after the forced resignation of the township

The closure of the office, in Palatwa township, in Chin State, western
Burma, occurred on November 12th. The Belin township NLD office in Mon
State was similarly closed on November 11th after the forced resignations
of its members.

In Arakan State, sources said that NLD offices in Am and Minpya townships
were closed on 14th November, while township NLD offices in Akyab (Sittwe),
Ponnakyun and Myauk Oo were forced to close in October. All closures
followed the forced resignations of township executives.

MI Unit 10 was responsible for all closures in Arakan and Chin States, and
MI Unit 5 for the Mon State closure. Resigning NLD members were required to
sign documents stating that they were resigning voluntarily for financial,
health or other personal reasons, rather than from coercion.

Sources from Akyab said that local people are deeply concerned about the
future of the NLD, as MI Unit 10 is trying to close all of the NLD township
offices in Arakan and Chin states.

All Burma Students' Democratic Front For more information please contact
01-654 49984, 01-309 3846


14 November, 1998 

Imphal, Manipur 

The never smooth Indo-Burma border trade is once again to be suspended.
This time, it is going to be unilaterally sealed by the India side. The All
Communities Welfare Association of Moreh, the apex welfare body of the
Indian traders, decided yesterday that it will indefinitely suspend "all
trade across the border with Burma" and seal the border gates from November
15 onwards in protest against "maltreatment of some Indian traders by the
Burmese authorities in Tamu (border township of Burma). The decision was
made in yesterday's day-long emergency meeting of the association after the
Burmese authorities abused some Indian traders the day before yesterday.

According to local traders, Captain Khin Maung Myint, the new Chairman of
Tamu Township Peace and Development Council, abused four Indian traders
verbally when they went into Tamu on 12th November. The total 14 traders
were expelled from Tamu after they were badly abused by the Tamu Chairman
even though they were holding valid documents including entry passes with
due paid. Captain Khin Maung Myint was recently appointed by Rangoon
authorities as the border township chairman in the place of Captain Kaung
Zan Oo who was infamous with corruption. The Indian traders were angry that
Captain Khin Maung Myint not only maltreated their colleagues but also
placed several restrictions on the trade and not allowed any Burmese to
cross the border from Burma. They decided to suspend all trade with Tamu
side until the new restrictions were eased and the captain changed his

Ironically, the need to step up the border trade was raised in recent
high-level meetings between Burma and India during a visit of India's
Commerce Secretary Mr. P.P. Prabhu to Rangoon in late October. Both
authorities reportedly agreed to continue the border trade without any
restrictions. The Indo-Burma border trade, which started three years ago,
is currently mainly carried on through Moreh in Manipur State of India and
Tamu on the Burmese side.