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Year 2005 KHRG Reports
The reports listed below fall into several categories: full comprehensive reports on specific regions or themes, Reports from the Field (previously called 'Information Updates') which provide situation summaries and field reports written by KHRG field researchers, KHRG Commentaries which tie the reports to the broader Burma context and editorialise on current events, Photo Sets which present recent KHRG photos with captions, and News Bulletins which present up to date information on recent incidents. The lists below are in chronological order.
Photo Set 2005-A
Released on May 27, 2005
Over 900 photos taken by KHRG researchers in the field from mid 2002 to early 2005, documenting the human rights situation and responses to it by villagers in Karen areas of Burma. This Photo Set contains a photo essay from Nyaunglebin District as well as sections on Attacks on Villages & Village Destruction; Forced Relocation and Restrictions; Detention and Torture; Shootings and Killings; Forced Labour; Food and Livelihoods; Women; Children; Flight & Displacement; Landmines; and Soldiers.
Report from the Field #2005-F1
Dooplaya District: Fighting and Human Rights Abuse Still Continue after Ceasefire
Released on February 18, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F1)
Despite the 'informal ceasefire' since January 2004 between the SPDC junta and the Karen National Union, armed clashes continue to occur, and villagers in Dooplaya District of southern Karen State continue to suffer from forced labour, forced relocations, rape, looting and extortion by SPDC forces and their allies.
Report from the Field #2005-F2
Thaton District: Continued Consolidation of SPDC and DKBA Control through the use of Forced Labour, Extortion and Movement Restrictions
Released on February 21, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F2)
Villagers in Thaton District hoping for peace and the opportunity to get enough to eat after the ceasefire, have instead found themselves used as forced labour, forced to provide money and building materials and prohibited from going to their fields by SPDC and DKBA soldiers trying to exert more control over the district.
Report from the Field #2005-F3
'Peace', or Control? The SPDC’s use of the Karen ceasefire to expand its control and repression of villagers in Toungoo District, Northern Karen State
Released on March 22, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F3)
Under the informal KNU-SPDC ceasefire, the SPDC Army should be scaling down its activities in the hills of Toungoo District, but instead it has increased military operations since December 2004. Using the increased freedom of movement it has gained under the ceasefire, the Army has sent out columns to consolidate control over civilians in the remotest parts of this mountainous district. Using villagers as forced labour to improve military access roads and haul supplies to support remote outposts, the Army is trying to flush out the displaced villagers who have evaded its control thus far. As the Army gains freedom of movement, villagers throughout the District find themselves less free to move, their trade routes, access to food and medicine markets, and even the paths to their fields blocked by SPDC movement restrictions, checkpoints, Army patrols and landmines.
Report from the Field #2005-F4
Nyaunglebin District: Food supplies destroyed, villagers forcibly displaced, and region-wide forced labour as SPDC forces seek control over civilians
Released on May 4, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F4)
Between October 2004 and January 2005 SPDC troops launched forays into the hills of Nyaunglebin District in an attempt to flush villagers down into the plains and a life under SPDC control. Viciously timed to coincide with the rice harvest, the campaign focused on burning crops and landmining the fields to starve out the villagers. Most people fled into the forest, where they now face food shortages and uncertainty about this year's planting and the security of their villages. Meanwhile in the plains, the SPDC is using people in relocation sites and villages they control as forced labour to strengthen the network of roads and Army camps - the main tools of military control over the civilian population - while Army officers plunder people's belongings for personal gain. In both hills and plains, increased militarisation is bringing on food shortages and poverty.
Report from the Field #2005-F5
Papun District: Forced Labour, Looting and Road Construction in SPDC-Controlled Areas
Released on May 20, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F5)
Villagers in Papun District who live under the control of nearby SPDC army camps are reporting that this year they are doing less forced labour as porters because convict porters are being brought in, and less forced labour repairing roads because much of this work is being done by SPDC soldiers - but that forced labour as unarmed sentries, Army camp servants, logging for the DKBA, and particularly cutting thatch and bamboo to build and repair SPDC and DKBA army camps, are still taking enough of their time to jeopardise their livelihoods. Worse yet, SPDC soldiers doing road work are destroying the villagers' fields and irrigation systems, putting this year's rice crop under serious threat. This has made the villagers deeply angry and frustrated, but any attempts to protest have been met with threats and gun-barrels. With the SPDC now beginning work on new roads and Army camps to secure the construction of massive dams on the Salween River, this situation is only likely to worsen in the near future.
Report from the Field #2005-F6
Continued Militarisation, Killings and Fear in Dooplaya District
Released on June 2, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F6)
This report documents the killings of two villagers by SPDC and DKBA forces in Dooplaya, some of the continuing restrictions and forced labour faced by people living there, and the climate of fear and oppression such abuses are creating. The informal SPDC-KNU ceasefire is not stopping the two sides from shooting at each other, and there is no ceasefire at all barring soldiers from shooting at civilians. Killings and abuses are still carried out with complete impunity, and this is unlikely to change as long as the region remains heavily militarised.
Report from the Field #2005-F7
Toungoo District: Civilians displaced by dams, roads, and military control
Released on August 19, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F7)
'Development' as implemented by the SPDC in Toungoo District of northern Karen State means dams, roads, military camps, and relocation sites. This report gives examples of how dams and roads are restricting the movement of civilians, bringing more forced labour to their villages, and bringing more extortion and taxation down on their heads. New military camps are confiscating hundreds of acres of productive farmland. Villagers are being forced to fill military roles as sentries for roads and military installations. Forced relocation sites are depriving people not only of their homes and fields, but more importantly of their freedom to support themselves. Many say it is the worst year in memory, and they face a choice between a destitute life doing forced labour in an SPDC relocation site, or a life avoiding SPDC snipers, patrols, and landmines in the hills. The SPDC's scorched-earth 'clearances' of people out of the hills and its repressive development projects in areas it controls are leading to severe food scarcity, widespread disease and mortality in both contexts.
Report from the Field #2005-F8
Nyaunglebin District: SPDC Operations along the Shwegyin River, and the villagers' response
Released on December 9, 2005 (KHRG #2005-F8)
This report combines text and photos to describe events from September to November 2005, when the SPDC violated the ceasefire by sending a large Army column to attack and occupy a Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) base in Nyaunglebin District. Just before the rice harvest was to begin, the SPDC Army shelled local villages, captured the base, and began systematically destroying the local villagers' homes, utensils and implements to undermine the ability of villagers to live in the area. The villagers evaded them and moved into the hills east of the river, where they established shelters close by - from which the men could monitor SPDC activities - and further in the hills, where their families could set up food supplies and care for children and the elderly. Meanwhile, KNLA units harassed the SPDC column and prevented it from crossing the Shwegyin River to pursue the villagers. On November 3rd the SPDC withdrew, having failed to bring any villagers under their control. The villagers quickly returned to begin a much-belated rice harvest, which will probably yield less than half the required rice for the coming year.
SPDC Violates the Ceasefire During Karen New Year Celebrations; the Attack on Kah Law Ghaw Village, Dooplaya District
Released on February 3, 2005 (KHRG #2005-B1)
On January 11 2005, SPDC forces violated the fragile ceasefire and attacked a civilian Karen New Year celebration with mortar fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Hundreds of villagers were caught between SPDC troops dug in at their village, and Thai soldiers who forced them back across the border after they fled.
News Bulletin #2005-B2
Forced Labour and the DKBA in T'Nay Hsah Township, Pa'an District
Released on February 22, 2005 (KHRG #2005-B2)
As SPDC and DKBA units in Pa'an District use the SPDC-KNU informal ceasefire as cover to entrench their positions and build up their weapons supplies, villagers in southeastern Pa'an District face forced labour as porters and forced conscription into the DKBA.
News Bulletin #2005-B3
Pa'an District: Food Security in Crisis for Civilians in Rural Areas
Released on March 30, 2005 (KHRG #2005-B3)
This bulletin examines the factors causing many villagers in Pa'an district to say that they now face a deepening food and money shortage crisis which is threatening their health and survival. Based on villagers' testimony, the main factors appear to be recurring forced labour for both SPDC and DKBA authorities, made worse in some areas by orders for farmers to double-crop on their land and the encroachment of new SPDC military bases on villages and farmland.
News Bulletin #2005-B4
They're at it Again; Recent Reports of the SPDC's Chemical Weapons Use Consistent with Evidence Presented in Past KHRG Reports
Released on May 3, 2005 (KHRG #2005-B4)
A new report released by CSW alleging the SPDC's use of chemical weapons against Karenni Army (KA) soldiers in February 2005 has once again raised the question of Burma's offensive chemical weapons capability. The symptoms identified in those affected appear to be consistent with exposure to a chemical weapon of some sort. The evidence produced in the CSW report also appears to be consistent with research conducted by KHRG following similar occurrences in Karen State a decade ago, suggesting that the SPDC continues to both manufacture and employ chemical weapons.
News Bulletin #2005-B5
Proliferation of SPDC Army Camps in Nyaunglebin District Leads to Torture, Killings, and Landmine Casualties
Released on July 7, 2005 (KHRG #2005-B5)
Since the January 2004 ceasefire between the SPDC regime and the Karen National Union (KNU), the SPDC has established seven new Army bases in Nyaunglebin District, sent in more troops, and since May it has also taken over most of the former Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) bases in the district while DKBA forces have been forced to partially withdraw from the area. All of these SPDC camps have been launching extended patrols throughout the remoter parts of the district. Not only does this increased activity violate the terms of the ceasefire, it is also intensifying the climate of fear and leading to further displacement as the SPDC patrols detain, torture, and shoot to kill villagers in many areas.
News Bulletin #2005-B6
Nyaunglebin / Toungoo Districts: Re-emergence of Irregular SPDC Army Soldiers and Karen Splinter Groups in Northern Karen State
Released on October 24, 2005 (KHRG #2005-B6)
The SPDC's hand-picked Dam Byan Byaut Kya ('Guerrilla Retaliation') units first began executing villagers in Nyaunglebin District in late 1998, but in recent years their activities declined and it appeared that the ouster of Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, who allegedly controlled them, may have ended their existence. Since July, however, villagers have reported their re-emergence in northern Nyaunglebin District under a new name - the Pyaung Shin ('to clear all'). Just to the north in Toungoo District a marginal Karen splinter group, calling itself the Nyein Chan Yay A'Pwet ('Peace Group') because it acts as a proxy army for the SPDC, has suddenly moved troops into a former SPDC army camp southeast of Toungoo, apparently under SPDC orders. Both of these moves threaten the security of villagers in northern Nyaunglebin and southern Toungoo Districts, and could be a reflection of more aggressive military strategies being developed by the SPDC since Khin Nyunt's ouster. Among villagers in the region, these developments are sparking fears of increased repression and a possible resumption of SPDC military offensives despite the junta's 'informal ceasefire' with the Karen National Union.
KHRG Commentary #2005-C1
Seeing Through the Smoke of Ceasefires; The Changing Faces of Forced Labour; Whose Suffering Counts?; What KHRG is Doing
Released on June 9, 2005 (KHRG #2005-C1)
Drawing upon recent KHRG reports, this Commentary asks the question why the Karen ceasefire is not generating a human rights dividend for Karen villagers, and looks for the answer in the nature of conflict in Burma. It finds the conflict to be much broader than that between armed entities, pitting villagers against the military junta in a daily struggle for control of their lives. The villagers' role in this struggle is too often ignored, both by outside actors who insist on treating villagers as passive bystanders to their own context, and by activists who seek to subjugate everything to the narrow struggle for an elitist Burmese 'democracy'. Double standards are used to further marginalise rural, agrarian, and non-Burman voices, when the real need now is for these voices to be heard more in political processes. The Commentary also discusses forced labour trends in Karen areas, and the new ways KHRG is documenting the human rights situation.
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