Tenasserim Situation Update: Te Naw Th'Ri Township, April 2011
This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in April 2011 by a villager describing events occurring in Te Naw Th'Ri Township, Tenasserim Division between June 2010 and April 2011. The report details abuses related to land confiscation by Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) officials; forced labour, including forced USDP membership; and attacks on villages in hiding, including the burning of houses, food stores, a school dormitory and supplies by Tatmadaw forces. This report also contains updated information concerning active Tatmadaw units in five areas of Tenasserim Division and relates health and education concerns of villagers in hiding in three areas of Te Naw Th'Ri Township.
Situation Update | Te Naw Th'Ri Township, Tenasserim Division (April 2011)
The following situation update was written by a villager in Tenasserim Division 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 Tenasserim Division, including 363 photographs.
The local SPDC Army [Tatmadaw] situation
Starting from June 1st 2010 and until now, there are five areas of Te Naw Th'Ri Township, Tenasserim Division in which SPDC Army forces have been active. These areas are Te Keh, Gkay, Ma Noh Roh, Pewa and Gkaw Hser.
Te Keh area
The SPDC Army force which has been active in Te Keh is IB [Infantry Battalion] #561 and it is led by Battalion Commander Aye Lwin. The battalion headquarters are based in Hton Ton.
The SPDC Army forces which have been active in the Gkay area are: LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] #594 led by Battalion Commander Lwin Ko Aung; and LIB #585 led by Battalion Commander Nay Hteh Aung, Company Commander Heh Thu Aung and Deputy Company Commander Aung Ko Lin.
Ma Noh Roh area
The SPDC Army forces which have been active in the Ma Noh Roh area are: IB #224, which is 50 soldiers strong and led by Major Aung Aung Oo; IB #17, led by Battalion Commander Kyaw Naing; and IB #560, led by Battalion Commander Ko Ko Maung. Military Operations Command (MOC) #1 controls these forces and is led by Colonel Myit Soe.
IB #103 has been active in the Pewa area and is led by Battalion Commander Win Myit Naing and Company Commander Pyo See Thu.
Gkaw Hser area
A company of IB #103 led by Battalion Commander Win Myit Naing has been active in Moe Daw. A Company which has been active in Tha Poe Min is led by Deputy Battalion Commander Tha Tun. A company led by Soe Win Htway has been active in Ler Gker. At Point 3000 [a military location], a company led by Aung Lwin Myint [is active]; and a company led by Lieutenant Aung Kyaw Myit is active in Moo Koh Paw.
Human Rights Abuses
I received the information that a Union Solidarity and Development Party [USDP] representative, U Than Htay from Pee [Kyunsu] Township, started confiscating 250 acres of land from a village named Gk--- on January 4th 2011. He plants rubber trees on the land he confiscates to create business for the military government, according to a [KNU] leader in the Pewa area. A few days after [the information about land confiscation in Gk--- was received], this Pewa [KNU] leader reported that U Kya Maung from the USDP has a plan to plant rubber trees in the Ne--- village [area]. The land [where U Kya Maung plans to plant rubber trees in Ne--- village] covers 200 acres.
SPDC Army soldiers forced villagers to go and porter rations to W--- army base. People who did not go had to pay 40,000 kyat (US $54.20) each. I received information from the Kh--- area of Te Naw Th'Ri Township, Tenasserim Division, that SPDC Army Battalion Commander Aye Lwin of IB #561, which has been active in the area, ordered the Kh--- village head on December 19th 2010 to go and meet him [and other village heads] at his army camp in Hton Ton. He ordered these village heads to organise villagers to go and porter rations for him to Gk--- army camp. The villages that had to go were S---, T---, L---, M--- and other villages. One person from every household had to go. People who did not go had to pay 40,000 kyat each. This information was reported by a leader of the Kh--- village area who does not want his name to be made public. A few days later, I received information from one of the H--- village leaders about portering rations from N--- to W--- [Tatmadaw] army base. Each person from each household in H--- village has to go. For sick people and people who do not want to go, they have to pay 40,000 kyat.
All villages in Te Naw Th'Ri Township have to go and porter rations. For the sick people and people who cannot go or are not able to pay [the fine of 40,000 kyat], village leaders told them that they would ask pyi thu sit [local civilian militia groups] to come and arrest them. So they [villagers] have to go because they are afraid, according to a local village head who does not want to his name to be made public.
Forced USDP membership
I received information from Kyunsu Township that U Soe Thu, a USDP official, ordered I--- and other villages on December 27th 2010 to join the USDP. Now 12 villagers from I--- village have joined the USDP. They were given a membership card. People who join the USDP are given home finishing [wall] plaster and hta htee lay [mattocks]. To get people to join the USDP, they persuade people in many ways.
Attacks on hiding sites
SPDC Army soldiers burned down 15 houses and five barns belonging to villagers in an IDP [Internally Displaced Persons] hiding site. I received the information that SPDC Army soldiers from IB #224, led by Aung Aung Oo, and 50 soldiers from IB #17, led by Battalion Commander Kyaw Naing, as well as IB #560, led by Battalion Commander Ko Ko Maung, which are all active in the Ma Noh Roh area, became active in IDP areas [before] February 2nd 2011 and burned down 15 houses and four barns. On January 24th 2011, SPDC Army IB #224, led by Major Aung Aung Oo and 50 soldiers strong, entered L--- village [a hiding site] and burned down six houses belonging to villagers. Also, on January 27th 2011, SPDC Army IB #17, led by Battalion Commander Kyaw Naing and IB #560, led by Battalion Commander Ko Ko Maung, joined forces and attacked P--- village [a hiding site]. According to the Ma Noh Roh area [KNU] Township officer who reported this information, at about 8:00 am, they [Tatmadaw IBs #17 and #560] burned down eight houses belonging to P--- villagers, a school dormitory and six barns, as well as 202 baskets of paddy (4222 kg. / 9308 lb.) and 11 baskets of rice (352 kg. / 774 lb.). The Township officer, who does not want his name to be made public, reported:
The names of owners of the houses, barns and other structures and supplies that were burned by SPDC Army soldiers are displayed in the table below:
The General situation in IDP [hiding site] areas
There are three IDP [hiding site] areas in Te Naw Th'Ri Township. These areas are: YŚ village tract in the Ma Noh Roh area; Gh--- village tract in the Te Keh area; and D--- village tract in the Pewa area.
[Updated] situation in Y--- village tract, Ma Noh Roh area
Currently, the SPDC Army soldiers have been carrying out attacks in IDP areas and burning down villagers' houses in Y--- village tract in the Ma Noh Roh area. So villagers have had to flee and hide in the jungle. On January 24th 2011, the SPDC Army IB #224, led by Major Aung Aung Oo and with 50 soldiers, entered an IDP [hiding site] location at L--- village in Y--- village tract, and burned down six houses belonging to L--- villagers. Then on January 27th 2011, SPDC Army soldiers from IB #17, led by Major Kyaw Naing and IB #560, led by Ko Ko Maung, joined forces and entered another IDP [hiding site] location at P--- village, in the Y--- area, and burned down eight houses belonging to villagers, a school dormitory and six barns. There are 30 households and a population of 156 villagers in the Y--- area. Now these villagers have to hide in the jungle. They do not have medicine or enough food. They are facing illness. The disease that they have to face is malaria. They live in fear and face a difficult situation.
Children could not complete their school year because of the SPDC Army's attack, the burning down of their school dormitory and the destruction of their homes. They have already been living in the jungle for over one month. The SPDC soldiers are [staying] close to them.
[Updated] situation in Gh--- village tract, Te Keh area
Now, an SPDC Army unit plans to attack IDP [hiding sites] in Gh--- village tract in the Te Keh area. The SPDC Army unit which will make the attacks is LIB #585. This battalion entered the Te Keh area on February 26th 2011. Now, the villagers there have to stay alert and live in fear. Children cannot complete their studies because there is no teacher to teach them.
[Updated] situation in D--- village tract, Pewa area
Villagers in D--- village tract in the Pewa area have to stay alert and live in fear because the SPDC Army troops plan to attack them. Children in D--- village cannot go to school because there is no teacher to teach them.
 KHRG trains villagers in eastern Burma to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format, conduct interviews with other villagers and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When writing situation updates, villagers are encouraged to summarise recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important, and present their opinions or perspective on abuse and other local dynamics in their area.
 When these documents have been processed and translated by KHRG and when sufficient information has been compiled and analysed, a full Field Report on the situation in Tenasserim Division will be available on the KHRG website. Until then, KHRG's most recent analysis of the situation in Tenasserim Division can be found in the recent Field Report, "Militarization, Development and Displacement: Conditions for villagers in southern Tenasserim Division," KHRG, March 2011.
 In Karen, the Burmese phrases Na Ah Pa (SPDC) and Na Wa Ta(SLORC) are commonly used to refer to the Burmese government or to Burma's state army, the Tatmadaw. Many older Karen villagers who were accustomed to using the phrase Na Wa Ta(SLORC) before 1997 continue to use that phrase, even though the SLORC has not officially existed since 1997. Similarly, despite the official dissolution of the SPDC in March 2011, many Karen villagers continue to use the phrase Na Ah Pa (SPDC) to refer to the Burmese government or to the Tatmadaw; see: "Mission Accomplished as SPDC 'dissolved'," Myanmar Times, April 4-10 2011. The term Na Ah Pa was used by the researcher and informants, and 'SPDC' is therefore retained in the translation of this report.
 All conversion estimates for the Kyat in this interview are based on the fluctuating informal exchange rate rather than the government's official fixed rate of 6.5 kyat to US $1. As of September 14th 2011, this unofficial rate of exchange was US $1 = 738 kyat. This figure is used for all calculations above.
 KHRG has previously reported that villagers in Te Naw Th'Ri Township have been forced to attend unpaid military training with Tatmadaw officers and heads of police for 30 days at a time and have been threatened with violence if they fail to form their own local militia groups. A KHRG researcher reported that the purpose of this training was for villagers to "defend their own places," suggesting that were being forced to create local militias to resist non-state armed groups, including the KNLA; see "Militarization, Development and Displacement: Conditions for villagers in southern Tenasserim Division," KHRG, March 2011.
 A Backpack Health Worker Team (BPHWT) medic interviewed by a KHRG researcher in August 2010 also reported this incident. He reported that the number of houses burned was 17 and, while indicating that he was uncertain as to the exact date of the attack, thought it had occurred near the end of January 2011. Both the KHRG researcher who wrote this situation update and the Backpack medic implicated Tatmadaw IB #224 in this attack; see "Tenasserim Interview: Saw K---, August 2011," KHRG, September 2011.
|All images and reports © Karen Human Rights Group||Top|