Situation Update | Moo Township, Nyaunglebin District (June to November 2012)
The following situation update was written by a community member in Nyaunglebin District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security. This report was received along with other information from Nyaunglebin District, including 116 photographs and three interviews.
We are so glad that we have the opportunity to report human rights violations that have occurred in our area. The human rights abuses have taken place in Moo Township area from July 1st 2012 to November 1st 2012.
As many people have heard, the Burmese [Burma] government and Karen National Union signed an agreement, which is the preliminary ceasefire agreement, and [they] have struggled and reconciled to have truthful peace throughout the country. As a result, we can voice that human rights abuses, which are caused by the government army [Tatmadaw] and KNU [Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)], have decreased by 60 percent in our area. But, a few human rights abuses still happen in our area at all times.
In addition, starting from the beginning of this year and until now, the unseasonable rain has come. We tried to collect the information and photos on June 23rd 2012 regarding water covered paddies and [the destruction caused to] a lot of flat field farms as a consequence of the flood.
Villagers encounters with things [difficulties] in mountainous area
As we reported before, in Moo Township area, we live under the control of the KNU [Karen National Union] and live in the places that are acknowledged by the KNU; the places are divided into [two] parts: mountainous area and flatland area.
As far as we see, especially villagers from mountainous areas, can travel and work a lot more freely, such as the travel back and forth in the mountainous area and flatland area after the Burmese government and KNU made the preliminary ceasefire agreement. The only thing that harms the rights of villagers in the mountain area is: the Burmese government army set up their base camps in the forest during the civil war or armed conflict period and they have not returned back to their home towns, so [villagers] have not dared doing livelihoods in the places that are close to military base camps.
As we have mentioned, in the past, Burmese soldiers [Tatmadaw] and KNU [KNLA] soldiers used landmines because of violations and armed conflict; landmines still remain under the ground, [villagers] are afraid of landmines and dare not travel, so we can say that human rights abuses are ongoing.
Villagers encounters with things [difficulties] in flatland area
In flatland area, villagers are under the control of KNU [KNLA] and the State Peace and Development Council [Tatmadaw] therefore they always encounter human rights violations. But, after the ceasefire agreement was signed, things [human rights violations], which are against their rights, have decreased a lot in their lives. A few human rights abuses always take place among villagers without prior notice.
For instance, to repair the camp, on September 16th 2012, LIB #599 which bases at D--- village, ordered D--- villagers to cut bamboo and wood for making a fence.
Another example is: on October 13th 2012, 40 soldiers from LIB #590, Column #4, led by Aung Ko Ko came and based [themselves] at Ma La Daw camp as a military rotation; he ordered villagers to gather together and he gave a speech and said that from now on, you have to bring travel documents with you if any of you go to hill field farm huts and betel nut plantations, because [we] are going to take action if you do not bring it [with you]. He did not mention how they would take action.
Villagers conditions, faced with things [difficulties]
If we review the current condition of villagers, they have to face several things, such as their rights being violated all the time. As we have mentioned above, villagers from the mountainous area and flatland area still live in danger, as some of them cannot travel freely. Front-line government troops have not returned, so KNU [KNLA] soldiers still have to take care of the security for villagers, even though there is no more armed conflict. In addition, KNLA troops still have to use landmines, which is why [villagers] do not dare to travel and do livelihoods near military base camps.
Furthermore, the government soldiers come to military camps, and send more rations and weapons regularly, hence villagers in the mountainous area live in danger and fear. We can say that human rights abuses still take place, as villagers cannot do livelihoods freely. For instance, on October 28th 2012, 120 soldiers from LIB #707, led by Battalion Commander Htun Naing Hla and Battalion Commander Saing Thi Ha, came with three bulldozers and two ration trucks; then, their rations arrived at Mu Theh village and they again sent those rations to military camps that are situated in the frontline area.