Issue 2 This land is our land

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EDITORIAL

Human rights won’t be won be silence!

     April is a month of festivals and religious ceremonies for many of the world’s people. Christians celebrate Easter and throughout Asia, the Songkran New Year water festival is enjoyed. The recent promises of peace from the Burmese military dictators should also have brought hope and happiness to the people of Burma. But unfortunately, talk is cheap.

     Eyewitness reports from inside Karen State confirm that in spite of ceasefires agreements and talks of national conventions nothing has changed for Burmaกฆs suppressed ethnic people.

     People are still being forced from their homes. In March as many as 10,000 Karen villagers were forcibly relocated. Burmese government troops have taken advantage of the ceasefire to take control and occupy new territory. They are busily building roads, army camps and moving munition supplies and heavy weapons to areas formerly under Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) jurisdiction.

     Internally displaced people are fearful. Once secure hideaways are now known and are easy to locate by the army. According to informed KNLA sources the SPDC have so far gained more from the ceasefire than the Karen.

     The Burmese army has increased its demands for forced labour, food supplies and timber from Karen villagers. In Taungoo District 468 families from eight villages were forced to relocate by government troops to where 4590 internally displaced people were already living in overcrowded conditions. Food shortage and medical care are at critical levels. The list of human rights abuses and atrocities continue to grow.

     In Tan-ta-bin township 628 families consisting of 3362 people from 15 villages were forced to relocate by SPDC troops to move from their villages.

     On 2nd of April 2004, the Karen Womenกฆs Organisation (KWO) released a report กงShattering Silencesกจ that documents the rape of 125 Karen women. The release brought a torrent of denials from the Burmese dictators and accusations that the KWO were trying to derail the peace process.

     But if the generals want or desire a genuine peace and a move to democracy they need to understand that it can only come with openness, honesty and a commitment to put an end to the abuse, torture, jailing of political opponents and killing of its citizens.

     In spite of the documented proof of the Burmese armies campaign to keep abusing Karen villagers our people still hope for a peaceful settlement and an end to the 55year conflict. This April issue of CIDKP Newsletter brings a message of hope and a story of courage from Karen villagers who overcome enormous hardships to try to feed, educate and make a life for their children in jungle hideouts.

FRONTLINE NEWS

Burmese soldiers destroy Karen villages

On the run with nowhere to hide!

    The fighting may have stopped while the ceasefire talks are on but according to reports from inside Karen State the Burmese army has increased its activities. Saw Mu Nar Poe, a villager from Pagu District, walked five days over mountains and across rivers to bring CIDKP Newsletter this eyewitness account.

     Since the ceasefire the shooting has stopped but the SPDC has taken advantage of the situation to move more soldiers to our district. The KNLA are obeying orders not to fight, but find it hard to stand by and watch troops forcing villagers to build new army camps, roads and been forced to work as porters.

     Light Infantry Brigade (LIB) 73, 234 and 599 issued orders to 600 villagers from Naung Bo(Ko Nee). They have been moved to a resettlement area that is already overcrowded. The ceasefire hasn’t stopped SPDC soldiers from killing. In February this year, 10 Karen villagers were arrested and beaten to death by soldiers. The villagers were forced to live in the jungle after being told to relocate and where returning from their old farms when caught by the soldiers.

     As many as 10,000 villagers have been forced off their land and relocated. These villages were well established. Many ancestors were buried there. They lost everything. Schools, graveyards, temples, churches clinics and crops. It only happened because the KNLA canกฆt do anything while the ceasefire talks are on.

     We are not sure why we are moved. We pay bribes to stop the relocations but we still have to move. Even when we’ve been moved, we still have to pay tax and work for free as porters. Most of the forced relocations have been close to army camps or a car road. Itกฆs similar now to the Four Cuts campaign used to stop support for the KNLA.

     In our district KNLA soldiers are confused. If the ceasefire is genuine why are the Burmese soldiers still abusing and killing Karen? To add to their worries the SPDC recently drove a100 trucks that brought 1,000 new soldiers, supplies and ammunition to our area.

     It’s now very easy for the soldiers to find villagers hiding in the jungle and if they find them they shoot them. On the 29th of February a male villager was shot dead. The soldiers demand money for sentry protection and forced labour. Internally displaced people are still suffering. We need international help to make the talks work. At the moment weกฆre disadvantaged but we hope the ceasefire will eventually bring benefits and genuine peace.

 

COVER STORY

This land is our land

     The villagers of Law Thi Hta have had enough of being forced to run and hide in jungles. Village headman Kaw K’Taw says his people have come here from all over Karen State.

     ‘We’re like scattered leaves. We’ve been running a long time, so many places, I donกฆt remember how many. We all come from different villages that were burnt by the SPDC. Now we will build a new village. We will have our school and clinic and we will plant our [rice] paddy and vegetables. Our old homes are unsafe because of mines.’

     ‘Kaw K’Taw looks around at the proud faces of his people as they chopped weeds out of newly burnt jungle, cleared so they can build houses, grow food, tobacco and fruit trees.

     ‘This is better than living like animals in the jungle. Here we get security from the KNLA, and thats good because we can trust them. Were still IDP’s and we dare not leave here. Without the KNU protection we could not live here. The SPDC are less than two hours away.’

     According to Kaw K’Taw their new village is a symbol of hope.

     ‘We have settled here in our own land. This is our land. We are staying. This is our hope for our children’s future. Here we are free from fear. It’s the first time for so long.’

     As he runs his hands through the thick ash still smouldering in places from the clearing Kaw KTaw says.

      ‘We will build a school and later a clinic. What we can do will depend on donations, but we have plenty of energy.’

     Kaw K’Taw good friend Saw Ku agrees and says.

     ‘We will work hard to give our children security and a future. By doing this hard work, now we are building the future and we’re doing it by standing on our own feet.’

     Kaw K’Taw says the villagers are getting real satisfaction from working on the land.

     ‘This is so much better than being a refugee in another country. Here we donกฆt have the problems faced by people living in refugee camps. Itกฆs more secure and we have a wider choice of food to feed our children.’ The evidence of how fertile and how busy the villagers of Law Thi Hta have been is all around us.

 

     Tobacco plants grow tall, fat juicy tomatoes ripen on the vine, corn, eggplants and beans burst like green clouds across the charred earth. Kaw K’Taw says.

     ‘We’re farmers. We’re longing for peace but we don’t know if the ceasefire will last, but we hope it does.’

The sound of silence is welcome

  Hsa Ka Paw, 20 and his best friend Eh Naw Say, 18, unlike many young people are happy too live without the sounds of television and radios.    

     ‘We have the sounds of birds, the river and the wind and if you listen they’re beautiful.’ Hsa Ka Paw says.

     ‘I don’t get bored. After a hard day farming with my Pa, I swim in the river and play my guitar and sing. I also have to study.’

     Eh Naw Say says having Hsa Ka Paw as a friend is good way to share and preparing the ground for ‘We made a gun and we hunt wild the good and the bad times.

     ‘We’ve been running all our lives from the Burmese soldiers. I’m happy here with Hsa Ka Paw. We  farm together. We’re now clearing and preparing the ground for cultivation. And after a hard day in the hot fields it’s great having the river to keep cool.’

     The two friends also enjoy hunting and foraging for food in the jungle. ‘We made a gun and we hunt wild animals…birds and squirrels, but we have to be careful of landmines.’

 

HEALTH

Our babies are born to suffer

      Pregnant women forced to live in jungle hideouts are at risk because they canกฆt access appropriate healthcare. Saw Min Chit Thuกฆs is now five month and his mother says.

     ‘When I gave birth we had no medic, medicine or healthcare. I had an itch and rash because I lacked vitamins. I still have it.’

     She says she suffered throughout her pregnancy because she was running and hiding from Burmese soldiers. ‘I came to Law Thi Hta and hope my life and my babys will now be better.

     ‘The young mother points to an angry looking rash covering her five month baby’s face and says. ‘I have no money. I have no diapers, food, medicine or security. I worry about my baby’s future.’

     According to Tee Per is a medic from Nyang-lay-bin (Kler-lwee-htoo) district healthcare for internally displaced Karen people is a problem the KNU is trying to address.

     ‘In our district KNU built four hospitals. We try to care and look after the health of our people. In our area the central CIDKP team also helped us by providing two mobile health clinics to treat IDP patients.’ ‘We try our best to help treat patients. We get some patients coming to the hospitals but other patients ask our health workers to treat them at their houses. We struggle to find enough medicine and as a result many patients have to depend on traditional and herbal medicine. We have many patients who should not die but do because of a lack of basic drugs such as antibiotics and malaria treatments. We just don’t have the medicine. Tee Per says health workers also visit villagers to give health education and training.

      ‘We try to get them to be able to care for themselves. The villagers get a great deal of health education so they can take care of themselves, but the constant activity of the Burmese army against them is a problem. They are always on the run, have no secure home and under these conditions it’s hard to follow health education strategies. Those who shouldn’t be sick are. The most common health problems are malaria, oedema, diarrhea, dysentery and anaemia.’ According to Tee Per, all that is needed to improve the health of his people a is a secure and stable environment, access to medicine and health services.

HEALTH

Mother finds hope in Law Thi Hta

   Naw Peh says looking after and caring for eight children while running and hiding from Burmese soldiers is hard work, especially when they get sick.

     ‘I’ve never known a safe home. Since I’ve been married we have had to flee and avoid soldiers all the time. It’s no way to bring up children.’ Naw Peh, 38, now lives in Law Thi Hta, a new internally displaced village under the protection of the KNLA.

      Naw Peh says she is exhausted from the years of caring for sick children on the run.

      ‘When my children get sick I do the best I can to take care of them. At times it’s hard to survive.’

      Naw Peh says living in the jungle made it hard to get medicine and it’s hard to find or to buy. ‘When my son Dee Di was three he died because there was no medicine to give him.’ Naw Peh says having so many children placed a burden on her family. ‘We never had sufficient clothing for everyone. Every time the army chased us we had to leave our possessions behind.’

       Without mosquito nets, it is no surprise that the most common illness her children suffered were malaria, bronchial coughs and asthma. The family moved closer to the Thai border.

      ‘Here I can make charcoal and sell to buy medicine for my children.’According to Naw Peh when her children are sick she has to risk crossing over into Thailand to go to a clinic. ‘It costs a lot of money and we have no money. I’m worried my children might die.’

     Until now Naw Peh lived with her children in the jungle. ‘It was full of mosquitoes, the water was not clean and it was full of germs. One or two of my children were always sick at the same time. It was exhausting. I got no sleep.

     Saw Sa Tay, responsible for health care at Law Thi Hta village says. ‘The most common disease villagers face are malaria, diarrhea and chest infections. These illness also depend on the season.’ 

     Saw Sa Tay has been given the responsibility for patients at Law Thi Hta and says that there is a hospital, but the area was not secure due to the activities of the Burmese army.

     ‘The hospital does not have enough medicine. We try our best to look after patients, but since there is not enough medicine patients die.’ Naw Peh says.

     ‘If there is no medic my children and me have a great problem. If there was no Backpack Health team our villagers have a great problem. My children are alive because of their work. I’ve been running since1983, now I hope I can finally stop.’

      In spite of difficulties she experienced Naw Peh doesn’t want to live in a refugee camp. ‘We came to Law Thi Hta for only one month. But I feel it will be better for my children here. We have so far survived the abuse and killings of the Burmese army. For now Law Thi Hta is our home.’

EDUCATION

Teacher builds school of hope

Naw Norin stands amongst the charred remains of a bamboo jungle, stretches her arms and says. ‘This is where we will build our school. We don’t have building materials yet. We need posts, floors, walls and a roof. We also need pens, books and reading materials. But we do have plenty of students, lots of enthusiasm and hope.

 

     ‘Naw Norin, 21, came to the border to get further education and to try to secure a better future for herself. ‘But when I arrived I saw my people were facing many difficulties. The children had no school. It created a pressure inside for me until I decided to help by becoming a schoolteacher.

 

     ‘Until the new school is built at Law Thi Hta, Naw Norin will continue to teach at an IDP primary school at the nearby village of Thay-ka-ya. ‘The school has 75 students and I’m one of six teachers. Each teacher receives a wage of 600baht a month (US$15) from Christian Freedom International (CFI). They also assist with some teaching materials.’

     According to Naw Norin they school needs more funds and assistance than they receive.

     ‘We can only teach the students to Fourth standard, after passing Fourth standard the students cannot continue their study in our school. After this they either stop studying or try to go to a refugee camp school.

     Naw Norin says getting further education is difficult for IDP students.’ Since many IDP parents are not educated and have had to struggle for their daily lives they want to encourage their children to study and get an education. But they have only a few ways to make an income. Many make charcoal to sell across the border in Thailand and some grow tobacco but they don’t make enough to be able to afford to educate their children.’

     Naw Norin says when the students finish their schooling their opportunity to learn vanishes.

 ‘Many want to continue to stay in school but since their parents cannot support them, they leave to help their parents work and to sell charcoal and tobacco in Thailand. The money they get they use to buy food, mainly rice and salt.’

 Naw Norin is excited about the prospect of building and running a new school at Law Thi Hta.

 ‘In the first year the new school will be only First standard but each year we will try to increase it by another grade. I hope our plans will be successful, as it will save the children a long trip to Thay-ka-ya. Although there may be many difficulties I will try my best to educate the children. I hope I will be a person who can lead them to a better future.

 ‘Luckily, Naw Norin will not have to work alone. She will work under the guidance of and have the support of Naw Htoo Lar, the headmistress at Thay-ka-ya. Naw Htoo Lar has the overall responsibility for the proposed new school and says.

 ‘The school does not receive assistance from any organization. It will be built through the enthusiasm of parents and teachers. Law Thi Hta parents are concern about the education and future development of their children.’

 Headmistress Naw Htoo Lar says. กฅIt will be difficult. We don’t have any support from outside organizations but we are not discouraged. These children need a foundation in their lives. They have been scattered from many different places. We all have to work to feed our families, me included. So I am grateful for the support of my niece Naw Norin who will do most of the teaching.’

     Naw Norin says Naw Htoo Lar is an inspiration to both her and the mothers of Law Thi Hta. ‘She brings us hope.’

 

 

 

 

 
Our school will grow from these ashes.

Lets us grow our food


Leave us in peace to grow food for our families 

     Internally displaced people (IDPกฆs) in Burma face death when trying to find food for their hungry children.    

     According to Saw Mu Na Poe, now a slash and barn farmer from Hkehder village, feeding a family of five while hiding in the jungle is hard.

     ‘Before I was forced to live in the jungle I had a rice fields, betel nut and fruit tree plantations. But the Burmese army burnt my village and set up camp. I fled my village and farm. I made a slash and burn farm but they destroyed it. Now we never have enough food.

     ‘Saw Mu Na Poe says when soldiers find villagers, they are shot to death.’If captured, we’re beaten to death, our houses are burnt and destroyed. Our rice stores are burnt and our animals killed for meat.’

      Trying to avoid being seen by Burmese soldiers keeps IDPs villagers on a constant alert. ‘When we hear SPDC troops we flee to the jungle. We abandon our farms, villages and this makes storing food for future use a problem.’

     Saw Mu Na Poe says villagers have to depend on slash and burn methods that destroy forests and soil. ‘In the rainy season we have to find bamboo shoots to cook with rice. Sometimes when there is no food to eat our children beg for food. This causes great distress for the parents. ‘To feed and soothe our young children we go and dig wild roots and bamboo shoot to boil.’ Saw Mu Na Poe says.

     ‘We fear SPDC troops the most. We stay in places where travelling is difficult. We find valleys between mountains and deep jungle. This gives us some protection form the soldiers.’

     Saw Mu Na Poe says in KNU controlled areas, KNLA soldiers give them some protection.

     ‘Since the ceasefire the KNLA cannot shoot SPDC soldiers.    Before [ceasefire] KNLA troops used hit and run attacks and when we heard the sound of gunshots we had time to escape. Now we donกฆt have protection. We dare not show ourselves to the Burmese troops.กฆ Saw Mu Na Poe says Burmese soldiers have taken control of more areas sincethe ceasefire.

     ‘Because the KNLA are not allowed to fight our land is smaller and smaller. It is now more difficult to work, to find food, to hide. We don’t want to run and hide anymore. We want to see peace.’

     Saw Mu Na Poe says villagers are not convince the ceasefire is genuine.

     ‘How do we know if it is real? But we are concerned it is a trick of the SPDC to bring all IDPs under their control. If that’s the case we will have no freedom or rights to live as human beings.’  

RESETTLEMENT

Resettlement still a distant dream

   According to Saw Tay Tay, secretary of the Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) resettlement of refugees from Burma will not take place in the near future.

     ‘It will take time. It will depend on political changes in Burma and guarantees for the security of refugees. There is no current plan for repatriation of refugees. The reason for that is simple – the ruling government has not made any changes yet.

     ‘Saw Tay Tay says that for the KRC to be able to formulate a plan, they need to know what the ruling government’s thinking is.

     ‘They are the one creating atrocities, oppressing villagers and destroying the properties. They are violating human rights of villagers forcing them to flee their homes and live as refugees in other countries. In order to live with some human dignity, refugees have to rely on help and protection of others.’

     Saw Tay Tay says refugees have no rights. ‘They cannot go where they want and cannot do anything but stay in the camps. In order to repatriate them to their place of origin there will have to be honest talks, concrete discussions and guarantees.’

      Saw Tay Tay says talks with the various governments involved and various organizations that support and take care of the refugees will also have to take place.

     ‘Even though the refugees will be going back to their own land it will crucial that they are given care and support for three to five years until they are capable of caring for themselves.’

     According to Saw Tay Tay the reason these refugees fled Burma have been well documented.

      ‘They have lost their villages and land. When they return they will have no homes, villages or farmland because of their destruction and confiscation by the regime.’

      Saw Tay Tay says in spite of the current ceasefire between the KNU and the Burmese military there has been little or no change in the situation affecting refugees and IDP’.

       ‘The ceasefire is a good thing. Where there is no more fighting, there will be no more deaths. A genuine ceasefire will be a benefit for refugees and IDP’s and for all our people. But who knows. It may still be a trick of the Junta so that it will prolong their political lives. We hope it to be genuine, but it’s too early to predict which it is.

      ‘Saw Tay Tay says if there is no concrete plan and guarantees for the security and welfare of refugees repatriation will not be possible.

Getting safely home to the otherside is not going to be quick or easy!

 

Win Soe pays deadly price for food

     A villager Win Soe wanted to do when he went hunting in the jungle was to find some food for his protein starved family.

     ‘It was only five  weeks ago. I was out hunting quail and took the wrong path and stepped on a landmine. It blew my foot off. It’s sad because I didn’t want to go out hunting in the forest that day. But I went because my family needed fresh meat.’

     Win Soe lives at Thay-ka-ya an internally displaced village and says life is a constant challenge. He says villagers had warned him that part of the forest was dangerous. ‘I tried my best to avoid that place but I got lost. I stepped on something. There was a big bang and I looked at my legs and I only found one was left and the other one was broken and spilling blood. I was shocked.’

     While Win Soe lay wounded, his friend went back to get help. ‘I was very worried. I had lost lots of blood. It took two hours before they got back.’

     But Win Soe says his greatest problem has not been the lost of his leg but that he can longer feed his family.

     ‘It’s tough on my wife. She has four children to care for and now me. We have no money for medicine. My leg hurts and is not recovering well. My wife has tried to get money to buy medicine.’ The local hospital is not capable of treating seriously ill patients.

     ‘They have no medicine. But my biggest worry is how will I feed my family. ‘Before I could do it. To earn money to get food I made charcoal, thatch for roofing, hunted wild animals and collected vegetables from the forest. I sold these to earn money. If I’m to help my family I really need to get a prosthesis fitted. Until I do I can’t go hunting wild animals or collecting wild vegetables in the forest anymore.’

 

Profile Human rights abuses

 

Killing, looting, burning all in a days work for Burmese soldiers

 

     The promise of a ceasefire agreement between the Burmese dictatorship and the Karen National Union has changed little for people forced to hide and live in jungle hideouts. Karen living in these areas are still suffering atrocities and human right abuses by the Burmese army. Villagers are forced to labour and pay extortion money. Villages are burnt and possessions stolen and destroyed. Forced relocation, abductions, killings, looting and stealing are common.

 

     These are not wild unfounded allegation but well documented cases of human rights violations by the SPDC troops.

Tha-ton District

     Troops demanded wood,  looted and stole villagers’ property. They ordered villagers to work as forced volunteers.

March 2004 – soldiers from SPDC 314 artillery unit, led by Sergeant Major Maung Aye ordered eight people from Kya-ta-raw village to work at the army camp bringing.

Sergeant Major Maung Aye demanded families of Shwe-yaung-pya village to provide large quantities of wooden poles measuring 18 inches in girth and 6 feet in length.

Toungoo District

     SPDC troops burnt forest hideouts and the villager’s plantations. This has huge produce problems for the villagers as it has destroyed their food supply, clothing and shelter. The army forced the villagers to relocate to a new site, preventing villagers from working on their farms.

January 2004 – Soldiers from SPDC Light Infantry Brigade (LIB) 117, commanded by LIB 55 came to Kaw-thay-doe village, Taw-ta-bin township and destroyed 48 houses and looted villager’s rice, salt, fish-paste and clothing. Troops destroyed property worth 910,000 kyat. They killed and ate villager’s cats, leaving skulls in the villager’s houses. Soldiers also excreted in the houses. Troops threatened the villagers that they must not tell anybody about their dirty work.

March 2004 – Commander Khin Soe of SPDC southern command Headquarters ordered LIB 48, to burn forests on both side of the motor road from Si-hkeh-doe to Ploe-mu-doe damaging villagers’ betel nut and cardamom plantations.

A CIDKP report in Taungoo District found that in Than-daung township, 468 families from 8 villages were forced to relocate by SPDC troops to resettlement places where 923 families with 4590 people from 30 villages already lived as internally displaced persons. In Tan-ta-bin township 628 families from 15 villages were forced to relocate by SPDC troops to resettlement places where 865 families with 5348 persons from 26 villages already lived.

Nyang-le-bin (Kler-lwee-htoo) District

     Villagers have had to face torture and extra-judicial killings by SPDC troops. Looting and extortion of property is also common.

February 2004 – Troops from SPDC LIB264 arrested, looted and killed two Pan-gan-gon villagers at Kyaukkyi Township. The SPDC division commander Maung Ni issued an order that any villagers found in Ywa-sa-gaw and Tu-Kot- Kho areas would be shot to death on sight.

March 2004 – SPDC LIB 30 came to the Pagoda of Ta-paw-lay mountain in Shway-gyin township and burned down the temple and rest house.

 

 

March 3, 2004: Sergeant Ka Lah from SPDC LIB 264, led by battalion Tin Hlaing and column commander Win Hlaing killed six villagers from Kho-pu village, Kyaukkyi township.

     The victims were: (1)Saw Htoe Kee, aged  45, (2)Saw Pu La, aged 28, (3)Saw Khree Heh, aged 23, (4)Saw Htoe See, aged 30, (5)Saw Hser Wah, aged 22 and (6)Saw Taw Nay, aged 22. These villagers were arrested on 26 February, 2004.

March 3, 2004: The SPDC operation command 3 summoned heads of villages areas of Kyauk-kyi township and ordered them to be relocated to new sites; Pay-tu and Sa-leh villages to be relocated. Pa- ta-lar village to In-gyin-gon, vet-lar-daw village to Yan-myo-aung and In-gyin-gon, villages in Noe Gaw  village tract to Pae-thaung village and Shwe-thaung villages  to Taik-tu village, Nyaung-Tan village of Thoo-ka-bee village tract to Yan- myo-aung and In-gyin-gon, Way-daw-kho village to Kyauk-sayit, Gamone-aing village and Weh-le-byin villages to Inn-net. Relocations must be completed by 7 March, 2004. The villages appealed but they were ignored.Ten thousand people were effected due to the forced relocation order.

Mu-traw (Pa-pun)district

February 2004 – Troops from SPDC LIB 558, led by battalion commander Than Naing shot villagers at Ta-meh-lor.  They killed Pa-new-pa-klo villager Saw Roe Tet (18) and wounded Saw Ni Thaw (16).

March 2004 – Soldiers from SPDC LIB 410, led by Bo Aung Kyaw Moe demanded from Kyweh-kin, Law-thaik, Kyauk-ga-din and Ah-leh-sa-kan villages that each pay 100,000 kyat for growing oil palm for the Burmese army.

Pa-pun district

January 2004 – Battalion commander Myo Min Hlaing and battalion second in command Htun Oo of SPDC LIB 434 forcibly used villagers from Dwe-lo township; Koo-seik, Way-san, Way-mo and Htee-ber-kha-hta villages to work for the army.

     Battalion commander Aung Min and battalion second in command Saw Mya Oo of SPDC, LIB 1, forced villagers from Ht-pa-doe, Po-mu-doe, Hsaw-bwe-doe, He-po-doe and Kyo-kho-doe to work for the army.

     An attack by SPDC LID 55 in the northern part of Pa-pu district and Karenni border area forced 24 schools in northern eastern Lu-thaw township to close.

Nyang-le-bin (Kler-lwee-htoo) District

     Villagers have had to face torture and extra-judicial killings by SPDC troops. Looting and extortion of property is also common.

February 2004 – Troops from SPDC LIB264 arrested, looted and killed two Pan-gan-gon villagers at Kyaukkyi Township. The SPDC division commander Maung Ni issued an order that any villagers

found in Ywa-sa-gaw and Tu-Kot-Kho areas would be shot to death on sight.

March 2004 – SPDC LIB 30 came to the Pagoda of Ta-paw-lay mountain in Shway-gyin township and burned down the temple and rest house.

March 3, 2004: Sergeant Ka Lah rom SPDC LIB 264, led by battalion Tin Hlaing and column commander Win Hlaing killed six villagers from Kho-pu village, Kyaukkyi township.

The victims were: (1)Saw Htoe Kee, aged  45, (2)Saw Pu La, aged 28, (3)Saw Khree Heh, aged 23, (4)Saw Htoe See, aged 30, (5)Saw Hser Wah, aged 22 and (6)Saw Taw Nay, aged 22. These villagers were arrested on 26 February, 2004.

March 3, 2004: The SPDC operation command 3 summoned heads of villages areas of Kyauk-kyi township and ordered them to be relocated to new sites; Pay-tu and Sa-leh villages to be relocated. Pa-ta-lar village to In-gyin-gon, Wet-lar-daw village to Yan-myo-aung and In-gyin-gon, villages in Noe Gaw  village tract to Pae-thaung village and Shwe-thaung villages  to Taik-tu village, Nyaung-Tan village of Thoo-ka-bee village tract to Yan-myo-aung and In-gyin-gon, Way-daw-kho village to Kyauk-sayit, Gamone-aing village and Weh-le-byin villages to Inn-net. Relocations must be completed by 7 March, 2004. The villages appealed but they were ignored.Ten thousand people were effected due to the forced relocation order.

Mu-traw (Pa-pun)district

February 2004 – Troops from SPDC LIB 558, led by battalion commander Than Naing shot villagers at Ta-meh-lor.  They killed Pa-new-pa-klo villager Saw Roe Tet (eightteen) and wounded Saw Ni Thaw (16).

March 2004 – Soldiers from SPDC LIB 410, led by Bo Aung Kyaw Moe demanded from Kyweh-kin, Law- thaik, Kyauk-ga-din and Ah-leh-sa-kan villages that each pay 100,000 kyat for growing oil palm for the Burmese army.

Pa-pun district

January 2004 – Battalion commander Myo Min Hlaing and battalion second in command Htun Oo of SPDC LIB 434 forcibly used villagers from Dwe-lo township; Koo-seik, Way-san, Way-mo and Htee-ber-kha-hta villages to work for the army.

Battalion commander Aung Min and battalion second in command Saw Mya Oo of SPDC, LIB 1, forced villagers from Ht-pa-doe, Po-mu-doe, Hsaw-bwe-doe, He-po-doe and Kyo-kho-doe to work for the army.

An attack by SPDC LID 55 in the northern part of Pa-pu district and Karenni border area forced 24 schools in northern eastern Lu-thaw township to close.

Doo-pla-ya District

February 2004 – Troops from SPDC LIB 548 led by Tin Maung Oo torched forest areas, destroying paddy fields belonging to Saw Thant Wah, Pah Kay lay, Saw Kho Bo and Pah Set of Htee-kyot-kay villages.

     As many as 200 cashew nut trees belonging to Pa Htwe Meh, 500 cashew nut trees belonging to Pah poe, 100 cashew nut trees belonging to Pah Gaw Gaw and a sugar case plantation belonging to Saw Tha Say were also destroyed.

Pa-an District

     Saw Naga, a medic said that the army have found a new way to extort money from villagers. ‘The Burmese army wore Karen raditional clothing and took photographs of themselves and forced the villagers to buy them. The villagers had to pay 1,000kyat for a photograph. The villagers were forced to buy all of the photographs intended for each village.’ The SPDC troops also distributed video CD discs to the villages and forced villagers to buy for 2500 Kyat a disc.

 

Different people, one village

 

 

 

 

     Thay Ka Ya is a village of internally displaced people that sits on the banks of the Moei River that separates Burma from Thailand. The village is a mixing pot of ethnic groups.  There are Sgaw and Po Karen, Burman, Pao and Indians living together in the same place.

     They fled atrocities against them by the SPDC army. They came from many places in Burma when their villages were destroyed. Many have lived here for as long as 16 years. Because of the civil war many cannot go back to their villages.

     Saw Ka Done, secretary of Thay Ka Ya village says. ‘There are 100 families, that’s as many as 600 people living here. The main work villagers do is as slash and burn farmers and making charcoal.

They also grow cash crop such as tobacco, tomatoes and corn. As they live close to the border it is easier to earn their living compared to people living far inside the country. But they have to work hard in order to get food sufficient for their family.’

     But living in Thay Ka Ya is not all peace and harmony.

     ‘As our village community is made up of many nationalities with various religious beliefs we have our share of disagreements but we all stay together in one place and have learned to share.’

     Saw Ka Done says many of the villagers would like to go back and resettle in their own place of origin but they fear landmines and retaliation from Burmese soldiers.‘We hope the ceasefire will bring us genuine peace. It’s time for the people of Burma to have a decent life.’

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