Situation Update | Bu Tho and Dwe Lo townships, Papun District (September to December 2012)
The following situation update was written by a community member in Papun 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 Papun District, including five incident reports and 39 photographs.
Problems that happened in the country between December 4th 2012 to December 29th 2012
Problems in the region happened in T--- and Meh Pree village tracts, Bu Tho Township. In Dwe Lo Township, they occurred in S--- and K'Ter Tee village tracts. The problems that occurred between December 4th 2012 and December 29th 2012 were:
(2) A group of KNLA [Karen National Liberation Army] soldiers tortured villagers and looted villagers' things; and
(3) A problem related to religion nearly happened in K'Ter Tee village.
Regarding the problems that we have reported, some were caused by the Border Guard, some were caused by the KNLA soldiers, who are the KNU's [Karen National Union's] people, and some were caused by religious leaders who believe in their religion extremely (religious extremist).
Why did they create the problems? There was no exact purpose or situation. They have no understanding of the political plan and human rights, so they have committed human rights [violations].
Firstly, regarding the problem that happened between the KNLA and the villagers, this kind of problem does not happen frequently. This time, we know about that and we feel really sorry for the villager. A P--- villager, Saw M---, said, "Until now, my hands can't hold things very well because they tied me very tightly." [The reason] why they tied him in that way began like this: Starting from K'Ter Tee village (K'Ter Tee village is located at the Papun-K'Ma Moo vehicle road); if we go to the eastern part, we can arrive to Thailand. If we actually go, we have to pass the villages, which are Meh K'Naw village, Htee Baw Koh village, Meh Pree Hkee village and Meh Lah village. Then, we will arrive at Meh Hsee village, which is beside the Khoh Loh kloh [Salween River]. If we go across the Khoh Loh kloh, we can reach Meh T'Waw region in Thailand. A road is located there.
On the road, black market traders sell cows and buffalos. Beside the road, the ones who travel are the armed groups. Sometimes [they are] the DKBA [Democratic Karen Benevolent Army], sometimes the KNLA, and sometimes BGF [Border Guard] travel there. The people who live in that region are mostly KNLA soldiers, under Commander Saw Hpah Mee, and in a group of his people. Saw Hpah Mee is a person from Brigade #5 [KNLA/ Papun District]. He lives beside the roads in Htoh Hkay Koh village, Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract, Bu Tho Township, Mu Traw [Papun] District. While Saw Hpah Mee is there, he does not need any permission from leaders [the KNLA 5th Brigade headquarters] and he can do what he wants; he opens [the road] and closes it frequently. Even though he opens and closes the road frequently, he never informs people in advance. Therefore, Saw M--- did not know that Saw Hpah Mee had closed the road when he drove his cows to the Thai border.
While Saw M--- and a herd of his cows arrived in Htoh Say Koh village, Htee Th'Daw Hta village tract, Bu Tho Township, Mu Traw District, they encountered Commander Saw Hpah Mee. As soon as Saw Hpah Mee met Saw M---, he became angry with Saw M--- and said, "I have already closed the road and what have you come to do?" Then, Saw M--- answered that he came because he did not know about that [road closure], but Saw Hpah Mee was not satisfied with that [answer].
Whatever he [Saw M---] said, it did not work and none of us could tell [how to satisfy] him, so Commander Saw Hpah Mee arrested Saw M---. After he arrested him, Saw Hpah Mee punched Saw M---'s face three times. In the evening, Saw Hpah Mee tied Saw M--- under someone's house. While Saw Hpah Mee tied Saw M---, he went and shot Saw M---'s largest ox to eat. The ox cost 500,000 kyat (US $584.11). Therefore, Saw M--- not only has to suffer from the people who tortured him, he also had to treat [them with] his big ox.
Another case is related to the Border Guard Battalion #1014 Commander Saw Maung Chit's person, Saw Maw Nee, or Maw Nee Say. This problem happened on November 2nd 2012. The problem happened like this: the group [of Border Guard soldiers] under Commander Maung Chit, from Border Guard Battalion #1014, came and lived in Meh Pree village. Therefore, the black market traders who sell cows and buffalos on the Thailand-Burma border have to give taxes to the Border Guard soldiers.
Once, a Muslim man, Saw A--- from K'Ter Tee village, gave 200,000 kyat (US $233.64) to Commander Saw Nyo Thay as tax in order to go and sell cows in Thailand. Thara Saw Maw Nee, or Saw Maw Nee Say, did not know about this case. When Saw A--- sold cows in Thailand, Saw A--- did not go through the Border Guard. For him, [he thought] he did not need to go through [him]. Therefore, he went directly to Thailand border. As soon as Thara Saw Maw Nee, or Saw Maw Nee Say, knew about that, he asked Saw A--- to come back at once. When Saw A--- arrived back in Meh Pree village, before he could say anything, Saw Maw Nee punched him several times and demanded 300,000 kyat (US $350.47). Therefore, we can see that the Border Guard #1014 oppressed people and looted people's money.
The Border Guard #1013 Battalion Commander Saw La Kyeh's people, Commander Saw Htee Theh Htoo and Saw Htoh La, asked the civilians do forced labour.The problems happened on December 5th 2012. On the same day, K---'s boat came from W--- village and would go to K'Ma Moo. On the way, it had to pass the K'Ter Tee boat quay first. When K---'s boat stopped along the K'Ter Tee village boat quay, the Border Guard Sergeant Major, Saw Htee Theh Htoo, put Border Guard rations in K---'s boat. After he put it all in, he told them [the boat owner] to go and send the rations to the Meh Pree village boat quay. The Border Guard soldiers asked the people to go and send their rations but they did not give any wages. For this case, the community member himself saw it.
Another problem was a religious problem that happened on September 10th 2012 at Meh Baw Monastery in Hpa-an Town. The monk called a meeting, and in the meeting they made four decisions. The decisions were:
(1) Prohibition on selling orchards and farms to Muslims.
(2) Prohibition on Buddhists marrying Muslims.
(3) Buddhists are not allowed to buy and sell things in Muslims' shops. They have to patronize only Buddhists shops.
(4) Prohibition on Buddhists using their name to buy things for Muslims.
The paper [leaflet] that they distributed arrived in K'Ter Tee village, K'Ma Moo town and Papun town. The Border Guard went and stuck the papers beside the road and on the trees, then they told the villagers about these [rules]. The Muslim people and Buddhists dare not communicate with each other, and a riot nearly happened. The KNU leaders and the (operations commander from) K'Ter Tee village military camp, explained to them [the rules]; the Muslim people and the Buddhists communicate again as in the past.
We also know about a threat [incident that occurred] on December 29th 2012. The case happened in B--- village, Meh Klaw village tract, Bu Tho Township, Mu Traw District. A B--- villager, Saw Y---, trades and sells bricks to the [builders of] brick buildings. The quality of Saw Y---'s bricks are good and he sells them at a cheap price: 45 kyat (US $0.05) per brick. The [Tatmadaw] Operation Commander Saw Aung Toe's people [soldiers] from Operation Command #1, from Papun Town, also sell bricks. The qualities of the bricks of the operations commander are not good and they are also expensive: one brick for 50 kyat (US $0.06), so buyers do not buy from the operations commander. Therefore, on December 29th 2012, Operations Commander Saw Aung Toe asked his soldier to go and call Saw Y--- to come to him, and told him, "If you compete with the people who are stronger than you and who are bigger than you, one day, what will become of you? If it is possible, don't do your work of trading and selling bricks anymore." If we look at the conversation, the words are threatening towards Saw Y---.
Making these problems disappear is not easy work. There would also be human rights violations in the future. Mostly, the Burmese citizens are always with a dictatorship and they know that what the government does is right and true. They do not know about human rights yet, and therefore, everybody's work always violates each other's rights.