FORCED RELOCATION IN CENTRAL SHAN STATE
An Independent Report by the
Karen Human Rights Group
June 25, 1996 / KHRG #96-23
In December 1995 Khun Sa and his Mong Tai Army (MTA) officially surrendered to SLORC. While this was publicized as a victory against the opium and heroin trade, there has been no evidence of any decrease in drug production in newly SLORC-controlled areas. Meanwhile, a common feeling among people in Shan State (many or most of whom never trusted Khun Sa) is that Khun Sa has betrayed the Shan national cause. Because of this, large segments of the MTA have refused to surrender, instead continuing to fight SLORC using guerrilla tactics in various parts of Shan State. The largest of these groups is commanded by Yord Serk, a former MTA officer with hundreds of men under his command, who has renamed his army the Shan United Revolutionary Army (SURA). SLORC wants to force all such groups to surrender unconditionally, and also appears to be afraid that these groups will make contact with armed groups which have already agreed to ceasefire deals - such as the Shan State National Army (SSNA, led by former MTA officer Garn Yod, who defected from the MTA with his men in 1995 and made a deal with SLORC), and the Shan State Army (SSA) and PaO National Army (PNA), both of which made ceasefire deals in 1991.
In an apparent attempt to weaken all Shan forces and prevent any contact, in March 1996 SLORC began a massive campaign of forcibly relocating civilian villages. So far at least 450 villages have been ordered to move on pain of death, almost every village in an area from the Salween River 120 kilometres westward to Lai Kha and Mong Kung, from Lang Ker and Mong Nai (just 60 km. north of the Thai border) northward for 180 km. to Kay See Man Sam and the area west of the Mong Hsu ruby mines. (See the map accompanying this report.) Even areas where ceasefire groups operate, such as SSA areas west of Mong Hsu and PNA areas south of Nam Sang, have been affected with the possible aim of weakening these groups.
Information collected by the Shan Human Rights Foundation and KHRG already includes the names of 320 villages, as well as 22 other village tracts (averaging 5-15 villages per tract) for which lists of village names are not yet available. A full list is included as an Appendix to this report. The villages already known to be included are in the following townships:
# of Villages
# of Families
Many of the households are extended families. At an average of 5 people per household, the above list already represents over 80,000 people.
SLORC Battalions conducting the relocations include Infantry and Light Infantry Battalions #55, 64, 66, 99, 246, 247, 248, 249, 515, 518, 520, 524, 525, and 551, each with bases at several locations in the area. The relocations follow a standard pattern: SLORC troops come to the village and order all villagers to leave within 5 days, after which they will be shot on sight. If any objections are raised, village elders are beaten and some houses are burned as an example. Some people have had their houses set alight while they were still inside, and in several cases reported from Mong Kung and Chiang Tong areas some elderly people who refused to move have been burned to death inside their houses. Others have been shot for returning to their villages to retrieve belongings or food after the relocation deadline.
In some cases the soldiers order them to move to specific sites along car roads or around big villages, but in many cases they are just ordered to move to a town or a patch of scrub on the outskirts. Some troops even tell villagers to go to Thailand if they want, as long as their villages are cleared. Nothing is prepared at the relocation places. Most people cannot take all their belongings, and large herds of livestock have been left behind to be killed by SLORC troops. At many relocation sites the SLORC troops confiscate all the villagers rice, then ration it back out to them at a rate of only 3 small milktins per person per day (supposedly to make sure that they will not have any to give to Shan soldiers; however, this is not even enough for sustenance). Most villagers are not being allowed to go and farm their old fields; in some areas they are, but they must get a 5-day pass to do so and only one person per family can go. Even the person who goes can only take 3 milktins of rice per day, and can be shot for straying back to their village or going outside their field. People from the area say that the whole area is in chaos, that thousands of people who used to have farms and livestock are living in shelters along the roads begging for food, and that in the towns every house has at least 5 families living in it now. In areas like Chiang Tong 50 villages have been forced to move into 3, and villages which used to have 60 families now have 7,000 people. Some of the relocated people are now being used as forced labour on projects like the Nam Sang - Kun Hing road and the Lai Kha - Mong Kung railway. SLORC soldiers tell the relocated villagers that they will only be allowed to go home when every Shan soldier has surrendered. The SLORC troops seem to think this will happen within a few months, but the villagers know better and they have no idea what will become of their future.
It appears that at least 15,000 people have fled to Thailand, where they disappear as labour in the Thai lychee orchards or to building sites and sweatshops in Chiang Mai or Bangkok, because there is no refugee camp for Shan people. People along the main entry routes confirm that 200-500 people per day have been crossing at each of the 4 or 5 main crossing points. Numbers have decreased through May and June, because the roads on the Burma side of the border have washed out and because many people do not have the 4,500 Kyat it costs for the car fare from Nam Sang to the border.
The accounts in this report were given by Shan villagers interviewed by KHRG in May/June 1996 after they had managed to escape to Thailand. For months now they have been flooding across the border in several places, many without knowing where to go or how to survive, ending up in the fruit orchards, the building site shantytowns, the factory sweatshops and bonded labour brothels of Chiang Mai and Bangkok that serve as the only Shan refugee camps. Most of their stories will never be told. Three young boys walked right through the border unnoticed because they only had the ragged clothes on their backs - 10 km. further on a monk asked where they were walking to, and they asked "Is Chiang Mai far?" Chiang Mai was 100 km. away. After being relocated and seeing SLORC soldiers taking female porters, a 14-year-old girl and her 16-year-old sister from Mong Kung crossed the border and reached a Shan temple with nothing. They each took their waist-length hair, which is deeply treasured by Shan women, and cut it off at the shoulder "to look more Thai". Then they set off for Chiang Mai and Bangkok. With nothing else to give, they each left their swath of hair as an offering to the temple. The Abbot hung the tresses beside the shrine, so passersby could remember the situation of the Shan people.
The issue of human rights in Shan State is too often ignored in favour of the issue of drugs, and villagers are brutally abused with impunity as a result. This is not a report about drugs, and the people interviewed in it are rice, fruit and livestock farmers and Buddhist monks, not heroin traffickers. They have little or nothing to do with armed opposition groups other than paying the food and cash which is demanded from them. Some opium may be grown around some of their villages, but it is a cash crop, a means of survival for some people in desperate circumstances. Before judging village farmers from Shan State, please read what they have to say in this report.
The names of all of those interviewed have been changed, and false
names are enclosed in quotes. In transliterating Shan to English, spellings can vary
between this and other reports; for example, SURA commander Yord Serk (a.k.a. Yod Serk,
Yord Suk), SSNA commander Garn Yod (a.k.a. Kan Yord, Karn Yod), and place names such as
Mong Kung (Murng Kerng), Nam Sang (Nam Zarng), Mong Nong (Mong Nawng), Kay See (Keh Si),
Lang Ker (Langkho), etc. In particular, Mong occurs frequently and can also be
spelled Murng, Merng, Mung, etc. Wan is a
common prefix for village names, so Wan Nong Hi and Nong Hi are
the same village. In the interviews people often used Shan calendar dates, which have been
translated to the corresponding dates on the English calendar.
Forced relocations (all stories), killings (#2), shootings (#2,11,13), beatings (#8,9,10,14), rape (#7,8,17), burning houses (#1,2,4-7,14,17), burning houses with people inside (#1,2,14,17), looting/theft (#1,4,8,12,17), confiscation of relocated peoples rice (#3,12), going back to farm (#1,3,4,11,12), overcrowding at relocation sites (#1,5,7,12,17), effect on monks (#3,11,13,17), forced conscription for SLORC militia (#3), MTA (#8,11,13,15,17), PNA (#8), SSA (#13), opium (#15), life in Thailand (#15,17), northern Shan State (#13,15).
Forced labour: At army camps (#1,3,13,15), as porters (#8,14,15),
as road and village sentries (#12,13,17), on Army farms (#2,15), Nam Sang - Kun Hing road
(#15,17), Chiang Tong - Kun Hing road (#15), Lai Kha - Pang Long road (#17), Lai Kha -
Mong Hsu road (#13,17), Mong Kung - Tsipaw road (#10), Lai Kha - Mong Kung railway (#7),
Lashio - Mu Seh - Kyu Kote road (#15).
NAME: "Loong Seng Mong"
FAMILY: Married, 5 children aged 2-17
ADDRESS: Loi Yoi village, Loi Lat tract, Nam Sang township INTERVIEWED: 1/6/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
Im a farmer. This is my first time in Thailand. I got here about 20 days ago [he arrived on May 19]. My village is east of Nam Sang, one days walk. I left because the Burmese soldiers forced us to move. They called all the headmen to Loi Lat and gave them the order to move within 5 days. Then the Burmese soldiers came to the village with the order on April 9th. #55 Battalion, from Mong Pan. Loi Yoi has about 70 households. About 300 soldiers came. I was there. At first they didnt do anything, they just came and said nicely that we had to move within 5 days, and they said "after 5 days, if you come back youll be shot". They said they would shoot us and accuse us of giving food to the rebels. Then they shot our cattle, pigs and chickens for food.
Its true, we had given food to rebels. They [the rebels] didnt do anything to us. After the order to move, we all had to carry our things on our backs. The way is too steep for carts, and there is no road. We went to Wan Nong. And Kun Mong. It is 3 hours walk to the west. Wan Nong is a big village. Before it was about 70 houses. Many villages had to move there - Kong Tat, Loi Lai, Loi Lat, Loi Yoi, Moi Tang, Loi Un, Kung Lao, Loi Ai, Ho Derg, On Kaen, Kong Sah, Mong Yau, and Nong Pay. That is two village tracts, Loi Lat and On Kaen. Both village tracts had to move to Wan Nong or Kun Mong. No place was prepared, it was up to us and our relatives. Those who had relatives went to stay with their relatives. Those without relatives there just spread out in different places. Its like if you let cattle loose, and they just scatter everywhere. People went to get bamboo to build huts and to collect food in the forest. They tried to get work doing day labour, but there were so many of them that it was difficult. Some people made long rows of shelters with separate rooms, all joined together. They helped each other, like they were making a hotel. There are about 7,000 people in Wan Nong village now. To survive, if we have money we buy food. We need to work for food and share with each other. We hired ourselves out to the local villagers to do farming.
Some people tried to stay in their villages, but not in our area. I heard that in another village someone refused to move and the Burmese burned her house. The Burmese soldiers burned her together with her house. That was at Wan Ko Lam village. She was an old woman. All her relatives moved but she did not want to move.
We didnt have to give our rice to the Burmese, but they took everything that was left behind in the village. They allowed us to go back and farm our fields, but you cannot take any rice with you. You must go early in the morning and come back home in the evening. Youre not allowed to sleep at the farm. And its 3 hours walk each way. Some are going. I didnt, but some people did. You have to get permission each time to go for farming. When I was there they didnt give a paper [pass], but they said that later they will do that. The people who go have to be afraid of getting shot, but the new place is so crowded so they have no choice but to go back and work their fields [its the only way to get food].
I stayed at the new place for about 20 days. We couldnt earn our living there, and if we stayed there we would have to work for the Burmese. As soon as they need labour they will give the order. Their base is at Nam Sang. At the new place at Wan Nong they have a temporary camp. They havent started building their permanent camp yet, but they have a plan to. The same Battalion, #55. When I left there were about 10 [soldiers] there all the time, but the others are all out patrolling so I dont know how many exactly.
We came by truck, from Nam Sang to Lang Ker, then to Mong Pan and to Thailand. Ordinary trucks cant come, it has to be 4 wheel drive. Its not surfaced. They didnt stop us. The Burmese said only when there is peace we can go back to our village. It will be a long time before we can go back. I will work as labour here. 9 of us came together. When we left we had 60,000 Kyat. Now I only have about 1,000 Kyat left, and I dont have work yet.
1) NAME: "Sai Seng Wan"
2) NAME: "Nang Zing" SEX: F AGE: 32
FAMILY: Married, no children but "Nang Zing" is over 8 months pregnant
ADDRESS: Wan Bah San vlg., Nong Hi tract, Chiang Tong twp. INTERVIEWED: 31/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Both are Shan Buddhist farmers
["Sai Seng Wan" and "Nang Zing" are husband and wife.]
"Sai Seng Wan": I was not in my house when the Burmese burned it [on Feb. 1], but my wife was. I was near the village. Then I knew that the soldiers were in the village burning houses, so I ran further away. A few hours later I went back to the village. I had to look closely for Burmese soldiers, and when I saw no Burmese soldiers there I went to my house and saw that my house had already been burned. It was a beautiful house. When I saw that my house had been burned, I still had to keep hiding from the Burmese soldiers. I was thinking about whether I should build a new house or do some farming, but I found I couldnt because then they ordered us to move to the town. I myself was not willing to stay in the town. The Burmese didnt allow us to work or do anything there, and they wouldnt let us go back to our old village to get our own food or anything. My house had been completely burned so I didnt have anything to go back to there anyway, so I came to Thailand.
"Nang Zing": I was in the house with my mother, but they burned it anyway. We were just staying in the house, not doing anything special. Two soldiers came to burn the house. They started it with straw. They knew we were inside, but when they burned it they said nothing. They didnt ask anything. When they came we didnt even know. We saw the fire and ran down immediately from the house. There was only one way out. They started to set the fire at the top of the ladder to the door, and I had to pass through the flame to run down out of the house. Not only me but my mother also. She is over 50. ["Nang Zing" herself was about 5 months pregnant at the time.] We went into a panic, and had to run out through the fire. While we were running we were crying and screaming.
We had nothing with us, and there was no one to stop the fire. We ran to the field, and stayed there until dawn the next day. When I went back to our house, I saw only ashes. We met my husband there. Nothing was left. We had to ask for clothes from other people. We were in the village for 3 months after that, and then we were ordered to move and we came to Thailand.
"Sai Seng Wan": We left on May 6th. They gave the order, saying "Within 3 days all of you must move". By such-and-such date. They said Chiang Tong area should have only 3 villages. Thats why some went to Kun Mong, some to Waeng, some to Nong Hi. They said within 3 days people must completely move. They gave a warning, they said, "If you dont move within 3 days, we will shoot whomever we meet". By 6 oclock of the third day. After that they didnt do anything to us, but they did to other villages. They even shot dead 5 people. That was in Mong Nai [area], 5 people were killed and 2 women were wounded. The 5 who were killed were from Kung Sar village. I dont know their names. All of them were from Kung Sar. They had already moved to Kun Mong, but it is not far, so they came back to their village to get their rice, and by that time it was too late. So they met the Burmese, and they got shot. They werent even going to stay in the village, they were just going back to get their rice. They had 5 bullock carts so they could carry more. They were moving things from their houses to the carts when they were shot. The two women who got wounded were also from the same village. Their wounds were not serious, theyve recovered already. They were shot by #99 Battalion, the same ones who ordered us to move.
After the order came, within 5 days I decided to come to Thailand. We left for Thailand on the 5th or 6th of May. We had to sell our cows and ask for money from some of our relatives [for the cost of the journey], and come to Thailand as labour. Those who dont come to Thailand stay in Ton Hoong village. There were more than 400 families in our village, and only about 30 families havent come to Thailand. For those who are willing to come to Thailand, the soldiers just say "Go ahead!" They dont stop them. For the rest of the people who have no idea how to get to Thailand because they have no relatives or friends here, the soldiers take them to work in the military farm, taking care of the cattle and buffalos, etc. to provide farm products for the Army. The people from our village can go back to the old village and get their rice and come back, but there is no work for them. On top of that, they also have to work for the Burmese. They have to take their own rice and work for the Burmese. The Burmese decided that each person can eat only 3 small tins of rice per day. For example, if I have more than 3 tins of rice with me they will take all my rice. [The villagers must hand over their rice to the soldiers, then receive 3 tins of it per person per day.] We wont go back unless the country gets better. Not unless they get democracy.
NAME: "Sai Kham Leng"
FAMILY: Married, 1 child aged 5
ADDRESS: Nam Wan village, Wan Lao tract, Kun Hing twp. INTERVIEWED: 31/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
Our village is south of Kun Hing, just on the way from Chiang Tong through Sai Khao to Kun Hing. Our village is about 3 kilometres from Sai Khao, which is close to the Chiang Tong - Kun Hing road. That road is quite big, but not paved. We are about 15 miles from Kun Hing. In the village where we live there are more than 100 houses. Our village already moved. The order came on the 15th [of May], and we left there on the 21st. It took us 3 days to come here [Thailand]. It is now 11 days since we left the village.
On the 15th the Burmese came and called the head of the village and they held a meeting. The meeting was in Sai Khao, and the soldiers came up from #518 Battalion in Chiang Tong. They called the headmen of 12 villages [all in Wan Lao village tract]: Nam Wan, Beng Kan, Nah Way, Kung Sar, Nam Tsang [not the town], Nong Kham, Wan Tsan, Kun Hsing, Khon Nah, Gong Lang, Ho Yan. On average each village has about 150 families. After the meeting with the Burmese, the village head called the villagers for a meeting. I was there. He said, "The Burmese called us to a meeting and we already had a meeting. They said we have to move. You can move to Chiang Tong or to Kun Hing or to Thailand, wherever you like. If we dont, they said theyll set fire to our houses. You can move to villages along the big road from Chiang Tong to Sai Khao and Kun Hing." Some people requested the headman if they could not be moved from the village, but he said we had to obey the order. On the day we started to move, all the villagers started taking their belongings and some started moving to Kun Hing and Chiang Tong, but the majority of them came to Thailand. They went to Kun Hing, Chiang Tong, Sai Khao, wherever your relatives are - anywhere except Nam Wan.
We had to move to Wan Lao. Before there were 160 houses there already, now there are more. When we moved to Wan Lao, they just made us all find our own places, even in the fields. People had to clear the bushes to make a place. They said we werent allowed to bring along our building materials, but we did. After all the villagers moved, the Burmese troops started guarding the villages, and they also used the villagers to build things for them, digging and building a camp and shelters for the guards at Wan Lao village. It is #518 Battalion. They asked for a list of names so they could recruit people for Peoples Militia. The reason they came and put their troops in the village is first so the Shan soldiers cant pass through, and also so the villagers cant go back to their villages.
Nobody tried to stay in the village, they didnt dare after getting the order. Only the monks in the monastery were left. Apart from the monks, just 3 or 4 families to take care of the monks and the monastery. The people who moved to Wan Lao and Sai Khao are allowed to go back and farm. For only 5 days they are allowed to be at their farm, and they can take only 3 tins per day of rice for their meals. They have to get a pass for 5 days from the Burmese along with the 3 tins of rice per day. If the pass expires, they have to get a new one. If you go to the field to farm, you must just stay in the field for 5 days and not come back. Theyre not allowed to go back to the village. If youre in the field you can just stay in the field, you cant go to the village. They allow just one to go from each family. They just allow the person who is really going to work, not the wife and the children. The family must stay behind.
We decided to come to Thailand, because after the order came every time they see a group of men they catch them and take them for Peoples Militia. We have to be their slaves. They take people by force to build fences. They ask for a name list and they collect people for Peoples Militia. In Chiang Tong, there is one Battalion already but they will add two more. On top of that, the Burmese planned to gather all the villagers rice together, and then distribute only 3 milktins to the villagers each day.
They announced the order on the 15th, and we left Wan Lao for Thailand on the 21st. Just one third of the villagers are left there with the Burmese, the other two thirds have left [the area]. People wont stay in the relocation place for a long time. They are still hoping for the day when they can go back to their home place, because they have animals and ricefields still there. If not, they will come here. I dont think Ill be going back home, unless the situation totally changes. The Burmese didnt tell us anything about when we can go home. They are letting people come to Thailand. Their aim is just to stop people from staying in the villages, to drive them out, thats all. If the villagers stay in those villages, the Shan armies will still come to stay among them. Thats why they drive all the villagers out. They dont care about what the future will be, they just want to empty those villages. To those who go and farm they say "Just stay in the fields, dont go into the village". This is how they prevent the Shan soldiers from entering the villages.
NAME: "Sai Gong Mon"
FAMILY: Married, 3 children aged 7 months, 3, and 9
ADDRESS: Nong Tong Long vlg, Wan Jit tract, Lang Ker twp INTERVIEWED: 1/6/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
["Sai Gong Mon" was working in Thailand when he heard that villages were being moved and went back to help his wife and children still in Shan State.]
I got back there about the 3rd or 4th of April - the trip took two and a half days. That is when I arrived in Lang Ker. I got back and everything was confused, I didnt know anything. When I got to Lang Ker they [his wife and children] were already there. They said Burmese soldiers came and made them move immediately, they gave them 5 days. After 5 days, they would not be allowed to come back to the village. When I got there the 5 days was already past. I didnt get to our village.
Our village had 22 houses. Its two hours from Lang Ker, to the north. The Burmese soldiers wanted them to move to the town. It was #55 Battalion from Mong Pan. They want everybody who lives outside the town to move to Lang Ker. The Burmese said "Youre living outside the town. If you stay here the insurgent groups will ask rice from you, so youve got to move to the town." The whole village and the whole village tract moved. Two village tracts - Wan Jit and Hai Koi. In Wan Jit tract, Wan Jit, Wan Nong, Nong Oi, Nam Naw, Bung Ton, Bung Sar, Wan Mai, Wan Tung, and Nah Kah villages - 10 villages altogether [including his village and Wan Jit]. In Hai Koi tract, Hai Koi, Loi Pow, Son Oi, Nah Mai, Wan Jong, and Oo Hah - 6 villages altogether.
I heard that afterwards they burned all the houses in our village, but I didnt see it, I wasnt there. My relatives told me about it. My wife and children were staying in Wan Kaen, close to Lang Ker, with their nephew and niece. All the villagers are staying with their relatives or friends, in other peoples houses. Lang Ker is crowded now. People had to bring their rice with them, the Burmese give nothing. They just give 5 days to move, and you have to take everything in that time. My wife had no idea what it was about. They just gave them 5 days to move, so as soon as the Burmese soldiers ordered them to move they were all busy moving their things. We [my family] had rice hidden in the fields. They carried what they could [to Lang Ker]. People are working as labourers to get money to eat. They work in the local sugarcane fields. If you go back and farm your own fields youd be shot.
The Burmese didnt prepare a place, they just told everyone "Go to Lang Ker". The soldiers didnt follow people leaving the village, but they came to the village to check that theyd left. The people from the two village tracts that moved dont have to work for the soldiers now, but before moving they were forced to work at the Army camp at Nong Long. The soldiers also took their cattle, pigs, chickens and everything. If they want something, they just take it.
I was there for about one month. I arrived back here about 10 days ago, with my family. I dont know what will happen to people. We dont know what to do. We cant go home.
NAME: "Nang Zan Sang"
FAMILY: Married, 3 children aged 7 months, 3, and 9
ADDRESS: Nong Tong Long vlg, Wan Jit tract, Lang Ker twp INTERVIEWED: 1/6/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
["Nang Zan Sang" is the wife of "Sai Gong Mon" (see preceding interview), and was living in the village with the children while her husband worked in Thailand.]
Weve been married 9 years. When I was in the village the soldiers came into the village and gave the order. I saw them. There were many groups. [Her husbands aunt, who was also there, added: There were about 500.] From Mong Pan, Lang Ker, and Mong Nai - there were a lot. As soon as we knew that Burmese came into the village, everyone was scared and we didnt dare go out of our houses. We had to leave within 5 days. People who were refusing to leave, the Burmese went into their houses and took things. They gave the order at night, and the next day we started moving. All the villagers started to move their things immediately. We had to move so far. The older people just stayed at home and the women had to carry all their belongings, so we couldnt finish moving everything in one day. We had to run away. I have 3 children - one walked, one I carried, and the other I put in a pushcart. When I left I couldnt take everything with me. Since the father wasnt there, all I could do was take the children. Oh! It was very hard and miserable to move! First I tried to move to Nong Tao, which is not far from Wan Kaen. But we were told that we couldnt stay there, so finally we moved to Lang Ker - to Wan Kaen, to stay with my relatives. No one helped me, I did it all myself on my own, holding my baby all the time. Just mother and baby. My oldest boy can walk, so he walked along. My parents have a pushcart, so I put my smaller boy on the cart, and I carried my baby on my back with me while I carried other things on my front. No one to help. Those who have more belongings had helpers. Oh! It was terrible. My tears were even dropping along the way.
During that time there was no day and no night [they had no time to sleep]. I had to keep going until I could carry everything, 3 or 4 days. Even then I couldnt get everything, and now theyve burned it all. Even these clothes I have on we had to ask from other people. Everythings gone already. They burned our house about 10 days after I moved to Lang Ker. 21 houses were burned, all the houses. There were no houses left.
Q: How was it like living in Lang Ker?
A: Ooh! Terrible! We had to stay on the ground underneath the house and on the floor, there were no real rooms, we had no good place to stay. Each house has 4 or 5 pots of rice cooking [i.e. 4 or 5 families staying there], so you can imagine how crowded it was. Ooh! In the daytime we had to lay on a mat on the floor in the passage. We were so tired, but to take a nap in the daytime they just laid mats all over the floor, all of us together. We all had to buy our own food. We could only afford to buy 1 pyi or 2 pyi [of rice] at a time. Those who have no children work for others as day labourers and earn money. We were over a month staying with my relatives in Wan Kaen, and my husband came. Then after 10 days we left for Thailand. The other people also faced hardships - especially my mother. It was raining heavily, and there was a hailstorm. The shelter where she was staying was very old and worse than this house [a simple bamboo hut with dirt floor], and the house fell down on her. They had to lift the house up off her. When we left for Thailand she still couldnt walk very well. When the house fell down, if we hadnt run we would all have been buried under it, including the children. As for now, we enjoy staying in Thailand. We dont miss our own place, its full of misery.
NAME: "Nang Pit"
ADDRESS: Nong Tong Long vlg, Wan Jit tract, Lang Ker twp INTERVIEWED: 1/6/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
["Nang Pit" is the aunt of "Sai Gong Mon" (see preceding interview), and was living in the village when it was ordered to move.]
We were together in that place [in Lang Ker], and we came together here. I have no husband, thats why I stay with them. We stayed together in the same house in the same village, and we came together. My husband passed away, so I stay with my nephew and niece. I am his aunt. So we cant be separated. Thats why we came together.
Q: How did they order you to move and how did you leave?
A: The Burmese said, "Drive them away from here! Let everything be done within 5 days, otherwise well set fire to the houses". The Burmese from Mong Pan themselves gave this order. They started from Chiang Tong and made their way to us. So we had no chance to take our belongings. As soon as they said "Get out", we started to move. As we didnt have carts or anything, we started moving right away. We were given no chance to go back or look again on our place. If we did, they would kill us. Ive got nothing except 2 sets of clothes. As for food, I got only 1 pyi of rice, and then I went. I arrived at Wan Kaen, and from Wan Kaen we didnt go anywhere. Then we had to come to Thailand. I stayed in the same house as them, the same village that had 21 houses burned. The Burmese burned all the houses in the village because they didnt want the people to come back and stay at our old place.
Everyone suffers a lot. Some of them have to cry. Some dont have carts like others, so their children were also crying along the way. For them, they dont have enough money to come to Thailand, so they just live there and try to make a little money for their survival.
NAME: "Sai Hom"
ADDRESS: Nam Sang township INTERVIEWED: 11/6/96
DISCRITION: Shan Buddhist farmer
["Sai Hom" works in Thailand, but went back to Shan State to see his family in May/June 1996.]
I just got back [to Thailand] 6 days ago. I went back on May 5th, and I got back here on June 3rd. I went to Mong Ton, then crossed the Salween River and went to Lang Ker, Nam Sang, Laikha, Mong Kung, and then back down to Kun Hing. While I was there I saw people moving, carrying their children, carrying their things. I saw them walking along the roads, and living along the roadsides. It makes you cry - theyve lost everything, and their houses have been burned. People couldnt take much with them. You see many people carrying children, and a load on their back too. I saw it around Kun Hing ... its everywhere! Theyre all over the place, I cant list all the places. They were moving close to the towns. Theyre just living in bamboo huts, I saw the places theyre staying in. Theyre staying all packed together. They dont have any money to build proper houses, so they have to do that. I saw soldiers guarding some of these places. They looked like camps, many huts. I saw lots of these places. In some places the people beg along the sides of the road. They hold monks bowls and just stand there by the roadside, all day long. They hope passersby will put some rice or money in their bowls. The children hold out their caps. I saw groups of 30 people or more standing together along the roadsides doing this. I saw it coming out of Nam Sang on the road to Kun Hing. Also near Ko Lam [halfway between Nam Sang and Kun Hing], and near Kun Hing.
In Kun Mong the Army came to collect porters and all the men ran away. So there was a family with only their daughters, and it looked like the soldiers were going to rape them. So the headman went to complain, and while he was away complaining the soldiers raped his daughter. This happened about 3 months ago. It is a famous case, everyone is talking about it and angry about it. I heard it from my friends there. Kun Mong is about 10 km. from Nam Sang.
I also saw people breaking stones for the railway. At Lai Kha, just north of Lai Kha, for the railway from Lai Kha to Mong Kung. Its obvious that its a railway, because theyre making the ground so level. Its got to be very smooth, different than a road. Ive seen both road and railway construction, and I can tell this is a railway. My friends said it is a railway. Many of my friends are working on it. Theres been an announcement that people have to make this railway. Im not sure how long its been going on now, about 3 months. Everyone in this area is being ordered to work on it. Each house has to send one person each day. Every house. Theres no time limit - every day until its finished. My friends are from Lai Kha town. People who have been ordered to move are also being forced to work on it. When I was there I saw several hundred people together, breaking rocks. Soldiers were watching them. My friends told me that there are beatings.
Q: How long until it will be finished?
A: I dont know! Its taking a long time, because it takes a long time to make it flat. Its going to go from Loi Lem to Pang Long, Lai Kha, and Mong Kung. They didnt say what its for. In Lai Kha, in the morning and the evening, the loudspeakers announce it every day. I was in Lai Kha for 4 days. I heard it when I was there - every morning and every evening, the loudspeakers say "Make your rice ready, tomorrow morning youre going to work on the railway." They say it in Shan. I didnt have to go because I was visiting my relatives, but I had to register myself [as a house guest] and I had to pay 50 Kyat to the section leader.
My uncle was chairman of xxxx village, and he had to move to Kun Hing. I visited him. He hasnt got anything now. He couldnt bring anything with him, and he had to leave all his livestock behind. His house is no good now, not like before, and hes got 4 children, 3 of them daughters. My uncle told me he wants to come to Thailand. From nearly every house there are people coming to Thailand now. He is over 40. He asked me to find him work here, but I said I couldnt promise anything. He hasnt come. When I came back it was so crowded, especially from Nam Sang to Mong Ton. There were 45 people in one truck, and there were 5 trucks coming together. Each person had to pay 4,500 Kyat from Nam Sang to the border. There are at least 20 checkpoints along the way, so most of that money just goes to the soldiers.
Q: Arent they stopping people?
A: No, they want Shan people to leave. They want Burmese people to come and occupy Shan State, because it is so rich and fertile. I just wish people in the world had a satellite camera, so they could look down and see for themselves how bad it is now around Nam Sang and Kun Hing.
NAME: "Sai Yi"
FAMILY: Married, 4 children aged 4-13
ADDRESS: Nam Wo village, Nam Sang township INTERVIEWED: 30/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
We left our village on March 16. Before Water Festival. All my children and my wife came along also. The soldiers ordered us to move between 16 March and 18 March. The order came on the 16th. We felt so sad, so we came to this other country. We didnt dare get our things out of our house. As soon as the soldiers ordered us to move we moved immediately. All the villagers in the 9 villages of Nong Hi village tract ran away.
The soldiers beat the headman, because the headman asked them not to force us to move from our village. There were 20 soldiers. It was #247 Battalion. They stay in Nam Sang and Mong Nai area. One of the soldiers hit the headman. They kicked him. They kicked 3 times, but one time they missed. They kicked him in the belly. They also hit him with a rifle butt. Then they beat a PNA [Pao National Army] member who lives in the village and said, "We will attack all the Armies, including Aung Thein!" He asked the Burmese soldiers not to force the villagers to move. He is a soldier the same as them, so they didnt listen. They beat him a lot but he wasnt hurt as badly as the headman. The PNA member said, "Before I lived in the town, now I live in the village and I understand what happens in the village [how the soldiers treat the villagers]". The headman was hurt, but he didnt die. He can still walk slowly, but he cannot run. He is 40. His name is Loong Heng Sait.
Our village had nearly 160 houses. Everyone ran into the forest that night. The next morning we went to Nam Sang and hired a car to carry our things. The same happened in Loi Kap village too, and Kun Sai. I dont know whats happened in other villages. Many people from all the villages were moving that same night at the same time. They gave the villagers only 3 days to 5 days. If the villagers couldnt move in that time, they burned all the houses in the village. Many villagers died. If they go back to get their things, the soldiers shoot them. We could not tell whose animals were whose among those left behind in the village, whose cows, whose pigs. Each family had at least 50 cattle or buffalos, and they had to leave them. If a family owned 100 cattle, at least 50 were left behind. The Burmese soldiers kill those animals for meat. We didnt see them looting, because when the soldiers were in the village we left. [Another man from the village added: "The Burmese soldiers took everything that was left in the houses."] We lost most of it. We could only take a few things. We had nothing. We moved to Nam Sang town and we couldnt work there, there was no way to make a living there so we came here.
They ordered us to move to Kai Long village in Nam Sang township, near the road. The Burmese didnt help the villagers to move. The villagers have to arrange their own way to survive. There are no fields there, just forest. It is about 3 hours [walking] from our village, so about 8 kilometres. Some went to Kai Long, some went to Nam Sang - people went everywhere. Some went to Wan Haeng - Pa Lur [Wan Haeng, Pa Lur, and Hai Neng refer to parts of the same village]. They get no help from the Burmese soldiers. They make small huts just 1 or 2 armspans [3 yards] wide. If the Burmese soldiers want porters they come and take them. Some dont have enough food.
Even before this the Burmese soldiers made many problems. They rape the girls and they take porters. All the time. They rape all the time, everywhere. It happened to her sister [pointing at "Nang Parng" (also interviewed in this report), who then said, "I ran away"]. If they meet a girl, they rape her. The Shan armies didnt come in the village. The PaO soldiers [PNA, which has a ceasefire with SLORC] ask money, but just a small amount - 60 Kyat per year per family, to make sure no bad people come to the village.
Q: Why is SLORC ordering the villages to move?
A: So that the Shan armies will disappear, so all the Shan armies will surrender to the Burmese. We are in the border area between PNA and the Shan armies. The Shan soldiers are nearby. They say the villagers support the Shan armies.
Q: Did the Burmese say when people could go home to the village?
A: In 3 years. I dont know why - some will take 3 years, some will take 6 months. Burmese Army said that. I have no plan to go back. If we go back it will not be easy to live. The Burmese are bad. The Burmese want to make it so the Shans cannot live there. The Burmese soldiers didnt help us. If they had given us some rice or something, we would not have come here. But we had nothing to eat, so we came here. This child is 7 years old, this one is 4 years old. Our whole family came here. Our family has 4 children. Now I work for money in other peoples fields, day by day. For one day, 70 Baht. Between me and my wife, for one day we can make 140 or 150 Baht [US$6 at the time of printing]. In Shan State we had a field and a good house and a rice mill, altogether worth 300,000 Kyats. It is still there, we could not take it with us.
NAME: "Nang Parng"
FAMILY: Single, father alive, mother dead, four brothers and sisters
ADDRESS: Nam Wo village, Nam Sang township INTERVIEWED: 30/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
I was born in Nong Kok village, Lai Kha Township. Now my father is in Lai Kha. They ordered my village [Nam Wo] to move on the 16th of March, on the English calendar. When I left it was Wednesday, three days afterwards. On the 20th. At night, at 9 oclock. They came and shot their guns. Four Burmese soldiers came to the village. They stay in Kun Sai. They were angry, and they said, "We ordered you to move, why havent you moved yet?" The soldiers also beat the headman without even asking him any questions.
All the villagers ran away. Some used their bullock carts and some carried their things. They took everything they could. At night we ran into the forest. We all ran. The next day we went back in the village and moved our belongings for the next 3 days. I was very sad, because I have a home but now I could not live at my home.
We started getting out of our village and carried our belongings by car, day and night. Still, the things we couldnt bring were left behind. We did not sleep for 3 days and nights. We had to search for a car to carry our things. Cars were difficult to find. In our village we had a lot of rice in our rice barn, but we could not carry it like that. We had to buy sacks to carry it. We asked the car to buy the sacks for us, but the driver was not kind to us, he charged 10,000 Kyats for one trip. For three days we could not sleep because we were carrying our things. If we slept, someone else would steal our things. We went from Nam Wo to Nam Sang. My sister has a house in Nam Sang. I stayed with my sister and my brother-in-law. We could not work there because it is a new place for us. We dont know how to get work there. Some people are poor, so they came and stayed with us and we shared food with them. I stayed there and looked after the children.
I left on May 2nd. I didnt know what to do there. My older sisters friend lives here [in Thailand] sewing clothes. She is Chinese. We are five brothers and sisters. Some are in Lai Kha, some are in Nam Sang. They cannot work now. They sell their belongings to make money to live. If I had a lot of money I would go to Taunggyi and build a house and open a shop. Now I am in [northern] Thailand, I cannot work here. I will go to Bangkok to search for work. [She didnt know how to get to Bangkok, or how to get past the police.] If I had money I would go back [to Shan State], but with no money I cannot go back. There is no way to go back to my village. My village is not like before.
NAME: "Sai Leng"
FAMILY: Married, 3 children aged 3, 5, and 7, his mother and father also live with them
ADDRESS: Wan Jok village, Mong Kung township INTERVIEWED: 12/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist rice & orange farmer
["Sai Leng" was interviewed in Thailand by an NGO representative who noted his comments and reported them as follows:]
Wan Jok is 10 miles east of Mong Kung. There are about 125 households in the village. Most villagers are farmers, growing rice and oranges. One month ago over 200 SLORC soldiers arrived at the village and camped in the jungle. They gave the order for all the villagers to move within 3 days to a site on the main road just north of Mong Kung, the road which goes to Tsipaw. Once the villagers moved they were forbidden by the soldiers to return, threatened that if they did they would be shot on sight. The SLORC said that the village was near "the Shan soldiers" so it had to be moved.
"Sai Leng" has 5 rice fields and 3 small orchards. He had to abandon them and bring what possessions and animals his family could carry with them to the new site. The new site was totally empty, and he spent the first few days building a small hut for his family. Then the SLORC soldiers came to order the relocated villagers to work on repairing the Mong Kung - Tsipaw road. Each week, half of the households had to provide one person each for a week-long shift on a rotating basis [half the households one week, the other half the next week]. "Sai Leng" was forced to leave his family to work on the road for a week.
To get to the road repair site, "Sai Leng" had to walk for four hours. He had to take his own food with him. About 60 people from his village were working together with him. In total, about 600 villagers were working at the site. This included both men and women, old people and children as young as 11. About 100 soldiers stood guard overseeing the work. "Sai Leng" saw one man beaten by a soldier with a stick because he had not asked permission to go to the toilet. The soldier beat him so hard that the stick broke, and the man was so badly hurt that he could not carry on working.
After returning from the work site to his family, "Sai Leng" decided that he and his wife should travel to Thailand to find work, or else they would not be able to feed themselves. They left their children in the care of their grandparents. He and his wife travelled by truck down to Mong Ton. They then travelled to Na Gong Moo, where they had to pay 100 Thai Baht each to the SLORC soldiers, walked across the border west of the Thai town of Fang and then travelled south to Chiang Mai. "Sai Leng" said about 80 people from his village came at the same time. On the day he crossed into Thailand there were 200 other Shan villagers also crossing over to look for work.
"Sai Leng" said about 10 villages in his area, all east of the Nam Teng river, had been ordered to move at the same time as his village. He said he would never have come to look for work in Thailand if his village had not been relocated. He hopes that in 7 or 8 months time he and his wife will have saved up enough to go back and feed their family. He hopes that his family will be able to survive in the meantime.
NAME: "Phra Wi Yaw Na"
ADDRESS: Nam Ho Hai village, Lai Kha township INTERVIEWED: 31/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist monk
Nam Ho Hai village is east of Lai Kha town, not near any road. Our temple had one monk and 20 novices. We left the village on March 4th. The Burmese soldiers came to the monastery. They said to the monks: "The village must move. If we come back again and the village hasnt moved we will burn the village and the monastery." They said this to the monks, then they went into Wan Ho Hai [i.e. into the village; the monastery is outside the village]. They said that to everyone. They [SLORC soldiers] said there are 90 MTA soldiers near the village, and if those MTA soldiers surrender then the village doesnt have to move. If the 90 MTA do not surrender, the village has to move. These MTA soldiers were near the village, out in the jungle. The Burmese gave us 8 days. If we didnt move within 8 days, the Burmese soldiers would burn the village.
Q: Did the soldiers come into the temple?
A: They did not bring their weapons inside [the temple building], but they were in the compound. Wherever the Burmese soldiers go they carry their weapons. They had them hanging from their shoulders. They had the straps over their shoulders and were holding them pointed like this. [Hanging by the strap but held pointed in firing position.] In their country they are obedient to Buddhism, but when they arrive in our villages they think we are just jungle people with no knowledge, that we are just MTA villages. So when they arrive they are afraid of Shan or MTA, and they are always on the alert.
If they see villagers running away they shoot their guns. When they came to Nam Lin village they saw villagers running and they shot their guns but they didnt hit anyone. Six villages were ordered to move, and Nam Lin was one of them. The others are Pah Mai, Bang Hsa, Nam Ho Hai, Bang Ka, Gong Mong, all six villages in the area were ordered to move to Bang Paen village. Another one [ordered to move there] is Wan Tsee Tsoh.
First we moved to Gong Mong, the villagers were there for 15 days and made their huts, they hadnt finished their huts, and then the Burmese soldiers ordered them to move to MLang. They were in MLang just a few days, then they were ordered to move to Bang Paen. To Gong Mong is 2 kilometres. Gong Mong is not far from the car road. From Gong Mong to MLang is about 1 kilometre. Bang Paen is very near there, about 20 miles from Lai Kha and 10 miles west of Mong Nong. Bang Paen is not near the car road, but it is a big village. The fifty households of Gong Mong and about 50 households of MLang also moved to Bang Paen. They all moved together. Six other villages were moved to Bang Paen. Each village moved had about 50 households.
The Burmese soldiers are not in Bang Paen, they are in Wan Tsing. Wan Tsing, Mong Yang, and Bang Paen are all near each other. The Burmese soldiers from Wan Tsing ordered us to move. These soldiers are from Kun Hing. #524 [Battalion].
At Bang Paen the Burmese gave no place to stay, the people had to make it themselves. The Burmese soldiers dont allow them to farm. They must go to live in Bang Paen and there is no work for them. They cannot go back to their village. They eat what they brought from the village, and those who have nothing borrow food from others. When they have nothing more, I dont know what they will do. The Burmese give them nothing. For now the Burmese soldiers dont call them for work, but the soldiers are planning to rebuild the bridge at Nam Wan. The bridge is on the road from Mong Nong to Lai Kha, 2 miles from Mong Nong. It is an old bridge, but they plan to rebuild it. If they rebuild the bridge they will call the villagers for labour to do it.
No one stayed in their villages. Everyone moved. They moved to Bang Paen, Mong Yang, and Wan Tsim - the 3 villages. The 3 villages are near each other. Some didnt obey and are hiding in the forest, but not in the village. The Burmese soldiers didnt allow the villagers to take their houses apart [to re-use the building materials]. Their houses are still in the village. The Burmese soldiers said, "Just tie your kien ho [Shan headdress] on your house to mark it". Now the people just have to build huts to stay in Bang Paen or in the forest. The soldiers said, "Do not build your huts well". I dont know what is in the Burmese soldiers hearts. They said if all the MTA surrender to them then the villagers can go back home.
We could not stay in our monastery. They ordered the monks, "Move to Bang Paen". We share food but it is not enough. We sold everything and stayed together with the villagers in Bang Paen. I dont know how the future will be. On April 21st, at night, I came from Bang Paen to Thailand. On the way I saw people moving to stay in Hai Neng near Ko Lam, and in Ko Lam many people were moving. Ko Lam is between Nam Sang and Kun Hing, near Kun Hing.
The Burmese soldiers are just trying to make the Shan people poor. The ninety Shan soldiers [near Wan Ho Hai village] will not surrender. They are Ker Laos group [Ker Lao is with Yord Serk].
NAME: "Sai Wan Na"
FAMILY: Married, 2 children aged 8 and 15
ADDRESS: Bah San village, Chiang Tong township INTERVIEWED: 31/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist farmer
["Sai Wan Na" had been working in Thailand for one year, then tried to take his family home to their village in Shan State in April 1996.]
Just two days after the water festival we left and went back [on April 17]. By the time we got to the village where I was born, we found that all the villagers were moving to different places. I had my wife and children with me, they followed with me everywhere. We came to Thailand together, we went back to our village together and we came back here again together. By the time we got to our village everyone had moved already. No one was left. I was shocked. Nobody had told me. I just arrived and it was empty. There used to be about 120 families.
When I saw that no one was left, I went right away to the temple and the monk told me "Your relatives moved already", so I followed them. They had moved to Ton Hoong village, about 2 kilometres away, on foot about 30 minutes. Most of the people had gone there. They were ordered to go there. They had 5 days to move. At the end of 5 days the soldiers came to check. If there were chickens or pigs or cattle, they took them. Including the outskirts, Ton Hoong has more than 500 houses. It is where 2 roads meet - Nam Sang to Ton Hoong and Kun Hing to Ton Hoong, and Mong Nai to Ton Hoong - 3 roads. Ton Hoong is one of the quarters of Chiang Tong. In fact, there is no single place called Chiang Tong.
All the villages had to move except for the only 3 villages that remain in Chiang Tong area: Ton Hoong, Kun Mong and Weng Kau. All the others had to move. Around Bah San, Nong Tau, Nong Un, Wan Nong Nung, Nam Un, Nam Tong, Nah Sah, Wan Tau, Wan Ka, Loi Lai, Ho Kun, and Nah Pok villages were all supposed to move to Nong Hi village tract. There are three quarters in Chiang Tong - Nong Hi, Kun Mong, and Ton Hoong. There are two Nong His.
All the villagers have to find places on their own. Its up to you. Some of them stay at the monastery, or wherever they can. By the time I arrived at Ton Hoong there were many villagers there. The quarter of Ton Hoong is full of villagers, staying in every corner, everywhere. In paddy field shelters, and where the farmers pile their straw, even in the cattle corrals, people are staying everywhere. By the time I got there it was raining very heavily [throughout the region the monsoon rains began early this year, in April]. Some of the villagers tried to bring their house construction materials, but they have very few. When they get sick there is a hospital but there is no doctor there, so they have to rely on herbal medicine. Some have died. First they had coughing, like lung problems.
The Burmese take all their rice, then ration it back to them. They rotate, each time they distribute rice to 50 families for 5 days. People can go back to farm their fields, just for 5 days, one person at a time. After 5 days you need an extension. At night the villagers have to guard the town perimeter, always 2 villagers together with each Burmese soldier. The families have to rotate. There is only one Battalion in Ton Hoong - #551. Soon the villagers will also have to build guardhouses for them.
We stayed for 8 days with my older sister and her family in Ton Hoong. Five families of my relatives from Bah San were also staying in my sisters house. It is a 2 storey house. Each family has 3, 4, or 5 people. [Joking] And in our country we have no medicine to prevent pregnancy either! Theres not enough shelter or food or anything, but somehow people survive. The food in the market is brought from Nam Sang and Kun Hing by bullock cart. When they carry rice from Kun Hing to Nam Sang, each person is not allowed to carry more than 5 litres of rice. One pyi [about 2 kg.] is equal to 3 litres. One litre is 25 kyats. Its expensive. It used to be 12. In the end, no one will be left in Chiang Tong area if it goes on like this.
I intended to live there again, not just visit. But due to the situation there I decided to come back to Thailand again. I was upset that I couldnt go back and live in our old village and I had to come back here again. The rest of my relatives also want to come here, but they cant afford the expense of the journey. It costs 8,000 Kyat to come from Chiang Tong to Thailand; truck fares, ferry fare to cross the Salween, and money to pass the checkpoints. We also have to pay the soldiers. Some try to come, they even carry the older people on their backs, but along the way their money runs out or they cant carry anymore, and they have to turn around and go back. Some of the richer people from the villages also cant go anywhere, because they have too many valuable properties there. They try to sell it but no one will buy it, so they cannot leave there.
1) NAME: "Phra Wi Lay Ka"
2) NAME: "Phra Kay Ma Sa Ra" SEX: M AGE: 19
ADDRESS: Mong Nong town, Kay See Township INTERVIEWED: 31/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Both are Shan Buddhist monks
"Phra Wi Lay Ka": Eighteen village tracts around Mong Nong were forced to move. Five village tracts south of Mong Nong - Mong Song, Keng Hau, Bung Tsan, Mong Lim, and Nong Tau village tracts - had to move to Mong Hong. Two village tracts, Wan Tung and Nong Ya, had to move to Mong Nong. West of Mong Nong, King Hae and Mong Yai village tracts moved to Mong Nong. Mong Nang, Mong Bon, Wan It, and Nong Wo tracts moved to Mong Nang village. North of Mong Nong, Wan Hai and Hong Tsan village tracts moved to Wan Luoi Nam Hong. Duh Ya, Mun Kam, and Nah So tracts moved to Mwee Taw. The others I cant remember. Each village tract has many villages. Some have 5 villages, some have 2, some have 10 villages. All of them have to move.
We live in the town of Mong Nong. Two village tracts had to move there, Wan Tung and Nong Ya, on 16 March 1996. From the 16th to the 18th of March they ordered all the villages to finish moving. The villagers were all ordered to finish moving by no-moon day of the 4th Shan month [18 March]. The Burmese gave them a place to stay but they didnt give any food to eat. They gave them a place to stay in the forest outside the town. Its just an empty space. The villagers cannot go back home. If they go back the soldiers will shoot and kill them. There is no work for them.
Each village tract was moved to a different place. One near Mong Nong is 15 rai [4-5 acres], and there was also one of 5 rai [1-2 acres]. Nam Wong, Mwee Toh, Wing Kau, and Mong Nang [relocation sites] are near Mong Nong. Another is Nong Aye. The soldiers stay in Nam Wong, near Mong Nong. Sometimes they go to Wan Kai. They also stay in Muong Mae and Bang Pon. They are from Kun Hing. #524 Battalion. The soldiers who gave the orders to move stay north of Mong Nong, in Wan Ho Na. They are from Pang Long, #249 Battalion. The soldiers dont stay a long time, they are always changing. The soldiers order people to make fences for their Army camp, to clear the roadsides, to make roads for the Army and to stand sentry along the roads. The road is from Lai Kha to Mong Hsu. All of the people are used for this work, the relocated people and the people who live there have to rotate.
Q: Do the people who had to move have food to eat?
"Phra Wi Lay Ka": No, not enough. They werent given any food, they just eat what they brought from their villages. Some have to beg for food. There is no work. Some monks came to our temple. Everyone had to leave the villages, including the monks. They are all going and staying in other temples. The Burmese soldiers said in 3 months they will let the people go back home. They say that within 3 months they will destroy all the Shan soldiers. We ran away. We didnt want to see the people being oppressed like that.
[At this point he began referring to notes he had made in his diary.] On 18 March 1996 they ordered people to guard the Mong Nong-Lai Kha road from Mong Nong to Hai Seng, about 11 kilometres going west. They ordered every household to go. If they didnt go they were punished. They ordered them to guard day and night for 5 days and nights. That was during the relocation time. They said it was to see if MTA soldiers crossed the road. They divided the people into groups of 4 or 5 to guard the road. They had to stand guard at places about one kilometre distance apart, as far as you can see - on corners, closer together. If a person guarding saw an MTA soldier cross the road they had to report it up the line to the Burmese soldiers. There were men and women guarding the road together. Also children 10 years old guarding the road, and old men 60, 70 and 80 years old. On 18 March 1996 at night, between 7 or 8 oclock and 6 oclock in the morning, about 30 Burmese soldiers from Pang Long, #249 Battalion, came and shot the people who were guarding the road. Three people were wounded. The wounded people were Sai Tu, age 16, Sai Kya, age 25, and Sai Mun, age 15. One was wounded in the hand, the other two also not seriously. Later they said it was Shan soldiers who did this shooting. We know the Burmese shot, but the Burmese soldiers want to make the Shan villagers see the MTA as being very cruel. They said "Even though Khun Sa surrendered there are still Khun Sas soldiers around, and that is why you have to guard this road." Three people were shot and wounded, but not dead. After that, the Burmese came to them and said, "See? These were shot by MTA". They went to the villagers and said, "Those who shot you were MTA. If you say you were shot by us, youll be killed". The Burmese Army said "If the Khun Sa members dont surrender, you will always have to guard the road." They are making it so Shan people cannot live anymore and will disappear. They want to conquer Shan State.
If the MTA come and the people dont report it theyll be punished. If the dogs bark in a village, the Burmese say that the MTA soldiers have come in the village and they come in the village and kill the dogs, and then they go to the headman and say "There are MTA soldiers in your village, why didnt you report it to us?", and punish him. They make many problems for people. One man went to the forest to cut trees, and they took him and killed him. I dont remember the date.
They also order girls to go and sew their uniforms. They cannot do it in their home, they must go do it at the army camp - each day, 2 girls. That is #249 Battalion. The girls have to go from 6 oclock in the morning until 4 oclock in the evening, then they can come back. They sew the Burmese soldiers uniforms. For one year already, the girls have to rotate and every day 2 girls have to go. They took a villagers sewing machine to keep in their Army camp. They also take peoples video machines to watch videos. Each day one man has to take a video and TV to their camp to show videos, day and night. If they run out of [generator] fuel, they collect money from the people to buy more fuel. Also, between 8 oclock and 12 oclock at night the village has to supply electric power to the Army camp [from their generators, apart from the power for the TV/video]. From 8 oclock to 12 oclock at night, if the villagers go out they must carry an oil lamp or else they will be punished. After 10 oclock you cannot go outside. It has been like this for one year now.
On the [Lai Kha-Mong Hsu] road, if there are no Burmese soldiers on a car the checkpoints take 250 or 270 Kyat per person from the driver, and 90 Kyat for motorcycles. The trucks run between Taunggyi and Mong Hsu. Mong Hsu is a place where people dig for rubies. The place where people dig for rubies is east of Mong Hsu, and there are relocations happening west of Mong Hsu. There are SSA [Shan State Army] soldiers there. I dont know why they are moving villages there. Even though SSA has a deal with the Burmese, still they are under the pressure of the Burmese. [SSA has had a ceasefire with SLORC for several years, but even so relocations are being conducted in their area to cut more of their civilian support base.] The SSA are not close to the ruby mines, they are far from where people dig. Theyre not close to Mong Hsu town.
Theyre relocating villagers in the south, but we heard theyre doing relocations around Mu Seh and Nam Kham also [on Shan States northern border with China]. Theyre doing relocations everywhere in Shan State, not in the towns but in the countryside. Also at Lang Ker, Mong Nong, Nong Long, west of Kun Hing, and around Nam Sang. Especially all the areas where MTA operated, they are clearing them out.
Q: Do SLORC soldiers come to your temple in Mong Nong?
"Phra Wi Lay Ka": They just come and visit it. They dont come to make offerings. They go to their own temples, in Burma. They dont come to ours, except when the villagers have a celebration. If theres no specific reason, they wont come to make merit. They come in, they ask nothing and say nothing, they just look around to see if there are MTA soldiers. When the soldiers come into the countryside, they have no religion. If anything happens in the temple they dont take their boots off, they just come in and enter the temple. They take care about that only when theyre in their own towns. When they go in the temple they take their weapons, without taking their boots off, and they search in the rooms. They are so rude.
Q: Do they build their own pagodas in the area?
"Phra Wi Lay Ka": Yes they did, near Mong Nong and Mong Hsu. In Loi Hseng [the ruby mining area near Mong Hsu], each time a new Major comes he hangs up a sign and receives offerings [for the pagoda], whenever people are making merit he sits and accepts offerings, and then when he has enough money he goes home and uses it for himself. For 3 years this pagoda has been under construction, and its not finished yet. Its not a big chedi either, only 10 metres high! Not even half of it has been built yet. By doing it this way they push down the fortunes of the Shan people [by leaving it half-finished], so that the Shan people will not be prosperous and will sink down.
1) NAME: "Sai Heng"
2) NAME: "Nang Kham" SEX: F AGE: 33
FAMILY: Married, 2 children aged 15 months and 13 years
ADDRESS: Wan Bah San vlg, Nong Hi tract, Chiang Tong twp. INTERVIEWED: 31/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Both are Shan Buddhist farmers
["Sai Heng" and "Nang Kham" are husband and wife.]
"Sai Heng": Our village used to be in Mong Nai [township], but now theyve made a new township of Chiang Tong. The village is south of Chiang Tong, about 2 miles. We left on the 6th of this month [May]. The Burmese burned down our house. We couldnt stay there anymore, thats why we left. There was nothing to eat. Even clothes, we had to ask other people for clothes.
They burned our house at 6 oclock in the evening, on February 1st. Our rice mill was a bit apart [in a separate shed], but it all got burned down too. The village has more than 400 houses, and they burned 12. The soldiers came up from Mong Pan area, and when they got to Bah San village they asked "Did the Shan [soldiers] pass by this village?" We said no, we didnt see them, and then they set fire to the houses. They came up from Mong Pan, Mong Nai, and Lang Ker - 3 towns. Battalions #99 and #520. [99 is in Lang Ker, 520 in Mong Pan.]
When the houses were burned I was not there - we had to run away all the time because they always arrest the men to use us as porters to carry their things. So we cannot be at home all the time. But when the house was burned, my wife was still in the house. They started to set fire to the house, and she ran out and ran away. The children also were with my wife. There were 3 [people] in the house. Our daughter is 13 years old. They ran down from the house. The soldiers chose the nicest houses to burn. Only the big and beautiful houses, they know that "this house is very rich", so they burned those houses. Ours was a wooden house, all teak. The floor and walls were made of teak, but the roof was just ordinary, made of bamboo and grass. They tied a bunch of straw, lit it and then put it on our roof.
"Nang Kham": I was holding my baby and doing nothing, because it was 6 oclock so all my work had been done already. They used dry straw and held it up to the roof. They said nothing, no warning. Even though they knew that we were still in the house they set it on fire. I was just holding my baby. As soon as I knew the house was on fire I just held my baby and ran out of the house. I couldnt take anything - we just tried to escape from the fire. I got nothing out of the house with me. We ran into the field, to a field shelter. After that I didnt go back to see, but people told me our house had burned down completely. So we just kept going, on to Wan Ton Hoong.
"Sai Heng": The soldiers arrived in our village about 3 p.m. At 6 oclock they set fire to the houses, then half an hour later they left the village. When they came only the children and women were left in the village. When they started burning the houses the soldiers were watching the stairways to the houses and the paths. The houses started to burn, and some people from the other houses not being burned also ran out from their houses, and they were stopped by the soldiers. The soldiers stopped them and took all of the belongings they had with them. Not only that, but they took everything from all the villagers shops in the village. They arrested the headman and they beat him up. He almost died. He was the Ya Wa Ta [Village LORC] headman, elected by the villagers. Later they released him at Ko Lam village, near Nam Sang. He was the only one arrested. They just hit him all over, in the head, in the back, ... The more you deny [seeing the opposition], the more you are beaten. I was told by the other people who were beaten by the soldiers. There were 5 people who were seriously beaten and they were badly hurt. They asked them all the same questions [about the Shan soldiers].
"Sai Seng Wan": ["Sai Seng Wan" is from the same village - see his interview in this report.] They beat whomever they caught, including two of the village secretaries.
"Sai Heng": I was hiding from the soldiers. I was in the fields. I met my wife there, and we went on together to Ton Hoong. We went to the town but we could not find a place to stay, thats why we came to Thailand. When we arrived at the town we didnt know how to go on living. We left on April 26th, before they gave the order to move [their village was ordered to move on May 1]. When we thought about our future, we could not live there peacefully. The Burmese oppress us Shans very much. They dont let our people have any opportunity. Wherever they see Shan people they despise and look down on us very much. They consider us as country bumpkins and treat us very badly, like beating and other kinds of abuse. When we meet them on the road, we are caught and used as porters. As we spend our time farming we dont have time to resist them. Thats why we had to flee to Thailand. After the village was burned we tried to find hope for the future but we couldnt see any hope. We wont even be able to do farming like before, or trading. We felt that theres no hope at all to live in Union of Myanmar. For these reasons, whatever may come, we made our decision and left for Thailand. We do as others do. Three quarters of the villagers have come, only a quarter of the people are left behind. Some are older or not able-bodied, and some people still have many domestic animals, and some dont have enough money for the expense of the journey - if not for these 3 reasons, everyone would come.
NAME: "Loong Kyong"
ADDRESS: From Chiang Tong area, now 12 years in Thailand INTERVIEWED: 31/5/96
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist planter/farmer
["Loong Kyong" lives and works with many people who pass through the area when they flee Shan State. His comments are included here to help give an overview of the situation.]
I have lived in Thailand now for 12 years. I do farming growing garlic and onions. February, March, April, May, through these 4 months, each day between 50 and 200 people have come in through the Fang area [only one of at least 4 main routes]. Now it is decreasing, now only about 25 people each day coming into Fang area. Those who are able to spend money for the journey come in through Fang, but those who cant pay and those who cant walk the distance stay in Mong Ton area or places along the way [the roads are being made impassable by the rains now]. They are still giving the [relocation] orders this month. Even right now, in Lang Ker, Mong Nai and Nam Sang areas. Lai Kha also. All of the areas in Loi Lem province. Mainly west of the Salween River - Chiang Tong area, Kun Hing, Mong Nong, Mong Kung, Lai Kha, Nam Sang, Mong Nai, and Lang Ker areas. They gather the people from all these areas for forced relocation and forced labour. The reason is because of the MTA, their soldiers pass all these villages, they rest there, etc. If the villages are small with only 15 or 20 houses, its the kind of place where they like to stop and rest. The Shan armies also ask these villagers for rice, because they are the same race. For this reason, the Burmese troops want to cut off shelter and food from the Shan soldiers. Thats why they force all the villagers to move.
All the small villages had to move. So right now, Chiang Tong is the size of 3 villages [i.e. 3 times as many people as before]. Before, there were 5 village tracts in Chiang Tong [township]: Nong Hi, Hin Long, Ton Hoong, Kun Mong, and Tambon Waeng. Now all these have been moved into just 3 villages: Kun Mong, Waeng, and Nong Hi. The main relocation place is Wan Ton Hoong. Those who cannot stay like that have moved to Mong Nai, Nam Sang, or Taunggyi. Most of them have come to Thailand.
At the relocation places theyre used for forced labour on road construction between Chiang Tong and Kun Hing, and Kun Hing and Nam Sang. Theyre also building a new road on the east bank of the Salween River, another from Mong Hsat to Loi Lang, and another from Mong Tung to Loi Lang. Theyre using 500 people to build each road, still now. And theyre using forced labour to extend the airfield at Mong Tung, and also for their camp because theyre going to add another 2 Battalions at Mong Tung. So people are being used to clear sites for the Army camps. The people for this are being taken not only from Chiang Tong, but also from Chiang Kham and Sai Khao. They take them by truck. I know this from people who have fled from there.
In Chiang Tong area, most of the villagers have already come to Thailand. There are 2 or 3 big companies in Fang area [a Thai border district] that own orange, lychee, and longan plantations, and each of their farms has about 500 or 600 people working there. Most of the people who come to Fang area already have a relative in one of the villages around here. Those who have been in Thailand and have blue travel ID cards [Thai hilltribe ID cards] earn better money. Those who dont have that card are the second class. The third class are the newcomers. Each class gets a different job and a different income. [A woman present added: The police are always trying to take advantage of the newcomers. Also the motorcycle-taxi drivers, if they see a watch, a chain or a bracelet, they just take it from them. Life is very hard.]
Some go to Chiang Mai and work as construction labour, and some go down to Bangkok too. But its very hard, sometimes they have to face the police and they are arrested. Some go to Bangkok and they have to be scared all the time, always hiding from the police. That man there, he used to stay in Bangkok and hes used to being arrested and sent to prison. Hes not afraid of them anymore, because he knows hell be in jail for not longer than 3 months, then released. In jail at least he can eat rice. Not like in Burma. Here is much better than life in Shan State. Before they came here, even though they had the chance to work for themselves, they had rice and crops, but in the end it was all taken by the Burmese. Over there we could barely survive. So what have we to fear from the police? We have been oppressed by the Burmese, forced to be porters. There you never know when theyll free you - 10 days, 20 days, or until they find someone else to take your place. Some just die along the way. Sometimes they suspected us of supporting the opposition groups with food, and then they beat us, sometimes even to death. In fact we just go to farm, and then they say "Where are you going? Where are you coming from?" We say "Were just coming from the farm", but they say "We dont believe you, youre taking food to the rebel groups, right?" When we say no, they start beating us. Life here is much better - even though they arrest us, later they release us so never mind, we can always find another job. At least we wont die.
Theres a man named Sai xxxx from Chiang Kham, he just arrived and he said some Shan youth are being forced to work on a farm, a wheat farm. After growing the wheat, they will make the people plough the land and grow opium poppy there. Then when harvest time comes, the Burmese will buy it. Those who dont have wet paddy fields but only hillside rice fields now have to grow opium, and when the harvest comes they must sell it to the Burmese. The Burmese said "No need to grow much rice". The reason the Burmese say not to grow rice is that if you grow rice you have to give some to the rebel groups, and to others, etc., and you have to get your rice milled. So they say just grow opium and you can easily get money and buy your rice. The military will buy the opium. That area is north of Chiang Tong and south of Kun Hing. Each day they use about 150 people to work on that farm, so you can imagine the size. 150 people had to go to clear that farm for 10 days. Forced labour, they are paid nothing. This man here has been here only 3 days and he experienced it, and so did that man over there. The area of the field is about 9 or 10 rai [2-3 acres]. In Chiang Kham, about 500 rai [100-200 acres] altogether, not only in one place - different Burmese group, different area. This area 150 rai, the next area another 150 rai.
Theres also a lot of forced labour in the north [of Shan State], especially on the road from Lashio to Mu Seh and Kyu Kote [trading towns on the China border]. Now they are going to pave that road, so all the way from Lashio to Kyu Kote will be paved, and the road is being widened to about 8 metres wide. The purpose of paving this road is to increase trade with China. They use forced labour of people from Lashio area. Theyve divided the forced labour into 2 groups, road construction and building construction. One group has to build a big warehouse and a hotel in Lashio, and another group has to do the same in Kyu Kote. The warehouse will be 2 storeys, with a zinc roof. The walls are made of wood. I heard this from a man from Mu Seh named Sai xxxx and his family, they came here from Lashio just recently but they are originally from Mu Seh. They arrived here in Thailand on May 27th. Now they are staying in xxxx. He said this [Lashio-Mu Seh] road has been dirt road for years, and now it is to be paved and made wider than ever. All the way to Kyu Kote, no dirt road anymore. The wages for this labour they just collect from the people. They force people to move there too but not around the towns, just some places far from the towns. Mostly villages that only have 10 or 15 households.
1) NAME: "Sai On"
FAMILY: Married, 1 child aged 7 months
2) NAME: "Sai Long" SEX: M AGE: 21 FAMILY: Single
3) NAME: "Sai Sai" SEX: M AGE: 18 FAMILY: Single
4) NAME: "Sai Ok" SEX: M AGE: 21 FAMILY: Single
ADDRESS: Lai Kha town INTERVIEWED: 29/5/96
DISCRIPTION: All are Shan Buddhists
"Sai On": This is the first time for all of us in Thailand. We came two months ago, together. We came just before Water Festival [in mid-April]. We went to work in xxxx [a Thai town] but we werent paid at the end of the month so we all ran back here. We worked in an ice factory. We all have parents living back in Lai Kha. We came because the Burmese made us work without paying anything. Every household has to give one person to work for 10 days, and if they cant send anyone they have to hire someone to go.
"Sai Sai": Each month we have to go one or two times, for 10 days each time.
"Sai On": Either building roads or carrying things - carrying supplies and ammunition for the soldiers, in the jungle. They are building roads everywhere, all kinds of roads. People have to split the stones and carry the stones. Weve all hired people to go for us, weve never done it ourselves. For 10 days we have to pay 1,500 Kyat. We hire poor Shans, those who work by the day. Some people can hire others, but if people have no money they must go themselves. There are women, there are old people, 12 and 13 year olds as well as 50 year olds, all working there. They just sleep where they must work, in the jungle or wherever, and they have to take their own food with them.
"Sai Long": There are Burmese soldiers watching, and if you dont work hard enough they scold you.
"Sai On": If you dont go for the work they come and use force such as beating you, or they arrest you. Ive seen it happen. It is Battalions 515 and 64 - they are the two Battalions in Lai Kha. #64 is an Infantry Battalion, #515 Im not sure [IB or LIB]. In the town they dont take peoples land, but in the villages they take peoples things.
We have to pay about 3,000 Kyat per month. It depends - if they call for labour twice, we have to pay 3,000, if three times its 4,500. Also rice - the more rice you produce, the more you have to give. Even if youre not a farmer you still have to pay "land tax". To build a new house you have to pay 20,000 or 30,000 Kyat as tax - and so on. Rice is more expensive over the past year, even though Lai Kha is the second-highest rice producing area in Shan State, second to Mong Kung. The parents must rely on the children. The children either get work as labourers in the fields and orchards in the area, or they go to Thailand.
Q: Are there any Shan opposition groups operating in the area?
"Sai On": There are Shan soldiers, but we dont know from what group.
Weve heard theyre always changing.
Q: Has Khun Sas surrender had any noticeable effect on people around Lai Kha?
"Sai On": No, its still all confused in Shan State.
Q: Have you heard about the forced relocations?
"Sai Long": We heard that its a policy, to stop the villagers from supporting the Shan soldiers. So under this policy, all the villagers must move to the towns.
"Sai On": The villagers were told they had 3 days to move, and were threatened that if they didnt move within 3 days their houses would be burned.
"Sai Long": Our relatives have suffered this. They had to move. Those who have relatives in the towns, some of them move to the towns. As for the others, the headman has to try to arrange a place for them to stay.
"Sai On": When we came [to Thailand] there were 2 trucks carrying 40 people, just from Lai Kha. Theyre coming every day. We crossed at xxxx. It cost the people 4,500 Kyat each to come from Lai Kha to xxxx [an exorbitant amount considering the short distance].
NAME: "Phra Ain Da Ya"
DISCRIPTION: Shan Buddhist monk
["Phra Ain Da Ya" has been a monk in Thailand for many years already, but recently visited the relocation areas in Shan State and helps many of the new refugees coming through daily.]
I went back on the 19th of last month [April], and I returned to Thailand on May 7. I went in a hurry, because these girls father [his brother] called me back to visit. I went via Mae Sai and Kengtung. It took 2 days [by car]. From Kengtung, I went via Mung Peng, I crossed the Salween, went via Kun Hing, then along the road to Nam Sang, Ko Lam, Pang Long, and to Lai Kha. I got to Lai Kha on the 21st. When I got there they told me what had happened. They said they didnt want to live there anymore, because it was impossible to stay. They had been driven out from their homes at 9 oclock at night. The whole village. 200-300 houses. The villagers all fled from their homes, that very night. My parents asked if they could come back with me to Thailand. So I said alright, so that they would know that someone is willing to help them. But I told them, "Ask permission from the Burmese. They were the ones who did it. You should ask the provincial authorities, the township authorities. Tell them you dont want to live in Shan State any more, because its impossible to live here". But they didnt give permission. They said "You cant go. Its an internal affair. So you dont have to go. Just stay." So then I came back. People in Lai Kha also wanted to come with me. In Lai Kha there were also problems. There was a budget from the central administration, about a million baht for a road, but the army base and the township administration had taken it all. So the people in the town had to spend their own money, to buy bricks and sand. The people in the villages also had to pay for this.
Those in the countryside had to move. They werent allowed to go back to get their cattle. They werent allowed to work in their fields or orchards. They couldnt go and look after their houses. They had to leave the doors open. Within just four days, they had to go and live in new places. They were all so confused about what to do. They didnt know what they would eat until the coming year. The Burmese said "Wherever you stay, youll just have to get by there." If they go back to work in their old fields, theyll be shot.
People were ordered to move at intervals. The orders came in the township of Lai Kha first. Then came the township of Mong Nong. Then Mong Kung, then Kun Hing, then the northern part of Mong Nai, then the northern part of Lang Ker. After the order to move, they were given four days. If they didnt move within four days, they were arrested, or the village was burned. The soldiers would shoot the cattle or whatever and eat them for free. Lai Kha township, Mong Nong township, Mong Kung, Mong Nai, Northern Lang Ker, Kun Hing, Chiang Tong, Nam Sang - all of seven townships. These are permanent villages that have been there for hundreds of years. Big villages. Some villages had 200 houses. Some had 100. There were temples and chedis, but the monks had to move, so no one is looking after them. The temples and chedis were several thousand years old.
Four days to move. It was difficult. For those who had cars or tractors or carts, it was not a problem. It was a problem for those who had to carry things on their own shoulders. People had hundreds of tangs of rice to carry. They had to go back and forth. They were crying. The soldiers said if they stayed they would shoot them. There was an old couple who refused to leave their house in Wan Luk, in Hai Seng village tract, because they had lived there for so long. They were burned together with their house. There were also people who went back to see their houses, who had big houses, they were worried that the houses would be damaged or someone would steal something, and they met some soldiers who asked them why they had not left. The soldiers have to patrol every day to check that people have not come back to work or see their houses or animals. In the village of Goong Yon, in Goon Sai village tract, on the 4th of this month [May] some people went back to see their houses. The soldiers found them and asked them what they were doing. They said they were visiting their house, and so the soldiers made them come out from the house and burned the two houses down. So they just wandered around and didnt know where to go. That was the day we left to come back. Its worse than in the Japanese time. There have been so many killings.
On average 80 out of 100 villages were forced to move. A lot. I could tell you about this for ever. Most of them are away from the car roads, 3 km. or 5 km. or more. Around Lai Kha, they moved all the villages east of the road [the north-south Mong Kung-Lai Kha-Pang Long road]. This is the road to Mong Kung. They havent moved any villages on the west side. They think the east side is where there are a lot of Shan soldiers. There are Shan soldiers to the west, but they have an agreement - this is Garn Yords men, and this [on the east side] is Yord Serk. But in Mong Kung, theyve moved the whole of the township, west and east. Then theres Mong Nong, the whole of that too. Theyre moving everyone to places near the roads, but in fact the roads are just dirt roads through the jungle. Theres nothing there. Theres no water or anything. They just want the people to lose all their possessions and not have any strength. They want to destroy peoples morale and their money, so the Shan soldiers cant survive. Theres Kher Lao and Kher Ngern, two of them. They were Yord Serks men. Theres about 1,500 or 1,600 of them. They dont all stay in one place. Theyre scattered around. About 50 out of 100 MTA didnt surrender. Khun Sa surrendered, and that was that. Now hes a problem for the Burmese. But the ones who didnt sell heroin, Garn Yord and Yord Serk, they have shown that they are real politicians. The Burmese think they are hardliners. So the plan [of the Burmese] is to make these people all surrender. Particularly Yord Serk. Particularly Garn Yord. And everybody else. Whatever happens, its a long term conflict. The Burmese think that if they do this, then Garn Yord and Yord Serk will have to feel sorry for the people and surrender. Thats what they think. If Garn Yord and York Serk carry on fighting, they will put more and more pressure on the population. They said if Kher Lao or Yord Serk come and surrender today, then you will be able to go home tomorrow. You wont have to give up your homes and temples.
Just in Lai Kha township, they moved about 150 villages.... So lets take the village circle of Nong Gor: theres Nong Gor, Wan Gong, Wan Na, Nam Ho Mu, Gong Teng, Boong Ger, Ho Pung, Gong Lang, Gong Ling, Gong Gat, Wan Mai. Thats 11 villages. Then in Hai Seng, theres Wan Look, Nong Jam, Wan Kang, Wan Mon, Bong Let, Nong Tao, ...16 villages altogether. Then theres Wan Ler and Wan Heng [village tracts], and so on. These areas are very fertile, so lots of people lived there. There was no written order. It was like this: Soldiers from Nam Sang and Lang Ker came to do the relocations in Lai Kha. They used soldiers from other places. They couldnt use the soldiers in Lai Kha because they knew the local people. The local people could have appealed to them. In Mong Kung it was the soldiers from Kun Hing. In Mong Nong it was also the soldiers from Kun Hing. They used #515 [Battalion] from Mong Nai, #99 from Lang Ker. Theres also #515 from Mong Ton. Theyre all mixed up when they do it - also #77, 55, 15, 99. You cant just say its a single battalion, so its easy to deny they did it. If you blame 77, they can say "It wasnt us", or if you say it was 515, theyll say it was 67. Frankly, this is worse than in Japanese times. At least the Japanese only came once. These Burmese come again and again.
At the relocation places they must know who is there and who isnt. Sometimes there are no soldiers. They just give the order, thats all. Sometimes there are soldiers staying there. Some people had to move near roads, some not near to roads. It depended on the township officer and battalion commander. Like Wan Ler, they made all the villages move together there, but its 10 kms from the main road. And Nong Kor, everyone knows who is coming and going, the Burmese know exactly how many people are in Nong Kor - yet they made the people there move. Its only 8 kilometres from the Township. And Hai Seng is only 5 kilometres. Its all just to make the population suffer. Its to cut off their strength, cut their possessions, so they cant support themselves. Or maybe they are indirectly trying to force everyone out [of Burma]. They know a lot have come to Thailand. It costs 300 a person to come to Thailand at the checkpoint. If people are going back, they ask how many years youve spent [in Thailand], and if its one year you have to pay 150. If you say one month, then they make you pay 50 baht. Theyre taking it in every day.
Some people are sneaking in and out of their old fields when the soldiers arent around. They hear news if the soldiers are coming. They cant grow anything in the new places. The soil isnt good. Its a new area. But the soldiers said to the people, youll just have to plant where you are staying. The people living there already cant oppose this. If they oppose it, the soldiers will arrest them. The people living there have to make sacrifices, and the people being moved have to build new houses. A lot have died. From the village of these girls [Nam Wo] over 10 children under 12 have died. They say theyve offended the spirits, but I dont know what spirits. Its because theyve moved to a new place. They have to live in hovels. Its unhygienic. They are used to living in big houses, but now they have to cook and sleep in the same place, in these dog hovels. Thats why they died so easily. The suns hot. The waters no good. But they dont know which water is good. Back in their homes, they know which water is good. In Wan Sang, I took a photo of one of the children that died. The mother was looking after it. It was five years old. The child had a fever, I think it was because of the water. It died later. A lot of people who have run away to Mong Ton have also died. There was one couple with children; they were fleeing to Thailand but the mother died on the way, and the father went crazy. No one knew what to do with their children. They split them up and sent them to be looked after by different people in the village of xxxx, near here.
The Burmese give nothing to the people theyve moved. All they do is come and take things from them - fish and chickens and cows. Its so easy for them. They dont have to breed any animals for themselves. And they rape women. Theyre not humans. Its the same for every village thats been moved. The villages where people have been moved to and those that they come from are as different as people and angels. People in the old villages used to be traders, and had some money. And now they have to come and live in hovels. There are long rows of hovels. They wont starve this year, but next year Im not sure.
Here are some relocation places I went to in the township of Lai Kha. [He pointed to a map, near Lai Kha along the roads north to Mong Kung and northeast to Mong Hsu.] Wan Sang is 7 kms north of the town. Its near the road. Altogether 3 village tracts were moved there, so there must be no less than 3,000 people there. This is Hai Seng. This is Nong Gor. This is Wan Ti. They are along the road to Mong Hsu. At Hai Seng there are many villages. There are over 1,000 people. At Nong Gor there are also 1,000 plus. At Wan Ti there are 1,500 plus. Some people have been made to work on the road.
In Nam Sang, here is a photo of people being forced to work. This was not in Lai Kha township, this was in Nam Sang. They are being forced to cut the grass at the side of the road. The Burmese are afraid that they will be shot [from the roadside scrub]. This road goes from Nam Sang to Kengtung. They have to clear about 4 metres along both sides, from Kun Hing to Nam Sang. These people doing the work are people who have been forced to move. They are from every village. In this area theyve all moved. Theres nothing left. Theyve been moved to places near the road, the road that goes to Kengtung. Theyve been moved there from the east and from the west. Nam Wo, Wan Bung, Nam Wong, Goong Sai. Here, this is Hai Neng. Goong Sar. There are 3 or 4 villages. Loi La. Loi Ai. Wan Mak Lang. Wan Nong. Mwe Tor. Nam Oon. Theyve all been moved to this area. This is called Kai Long. Its north of Nam Sang, and southeast of Lai Kha. Its about 15 kms from the town. There are several thousand households here. This is where the people in the photo working on the road were from. Each village may have to do it for about 10 kms. The villages are each given stretches to do. Soldiers keep guard, in case they run away.
Theyre not moving people east of the Salween [River]. But they are moving people from south of Kun Hing to the north, from Keng Lom to the Salween, theyve all been moved north. The situation is the same for all these people. Theyve been given four days to move.
I saw villagers doing labour guarding the roads, from Tachilek all the way to the Salween, in little huts. And in the west, from Nam Sang to the Salween. In Lai Kha, the people in the town are used for building the road to the south, to Pang Long. Its an old road, but its being rebuilt. Its a surfaced road. They have to carry stones. They said if it wasnt finished by the 20th [of May], the township officer and the battalion commander would have to resign. So the battalion came and hurried the local people to do it, 200 people every day. It is 25 kilometres, and there are still 15 kilometres to go.
Out of 100 people 80 have lost their homes. They dont know what to do.
It will have a long-term effect. It will certainly have an effect on Thailand. Thailand doesnt know what to do about it. Look at this car from Mong Ton [in a photo]. This kind of car is bringing people every day. There are about 200 people here. Theyre waiting here, because police are waiting further down. They dont dare go on. I saw them there and saw how difficult it was for them. Theyll come through whenever they can, one by one. Theyll look for work. Some came through and didnt have any food. They were sitting in the lychee orchards. Other people felt sorry for them, so they bought rice for them. Its like that every day. There are so many. Thousands. The people who have been relocated, when they dont have enough to eat, they are bound to come to Thailand. The people from Lai Kha I told you about, if they had a place to come to, they would all come, all 300 households. And they are people from the town, not just villagers. I told them they shouldnt come yet, they should wait for a while. Children are coming. Adults are also coming. Old people are also coming. They go to Fang, Chiang Dao, Pai, Mae Hong Son. As far as Lampun, and Lampang. I dont know where they end up. There are cars taking them.
They are coming all the time, and the Burmese are taking money all the time. 300 kyats each. They let them go wherever they want to. Its going to be a long-term problem for Thailand. The best solution would be to set up a refugee camp. It would be safe, and could be controlled. But Thailands policy is not to go against Burma. They are economic partners at the moment.
Its a dark country. Its uncivilised. I dont know of anywhere in the world where they do this kind of thing. Just imagine if it was you, if it was your house, and you had lost everything, you wouldnt know what to say. I myself, Ive gone and seen it and I can describe the events, but the people whove had to leave their village, where they have children, grandchildren, rice, water, everything. They dont understand any reason. Theyre totally confused. The angels cant help them. Its hard to say the real reason. Its not Khun Sa, its not that the Shan soldiers fight them [the Burmese]. Its the Four Cuts Policy: Cut communications, Cut supplies, Cut strength, Cut support for the soldiers. The first cut is to make the population poor, the second cut is not to let people think. Its their strategy. They want people to be all confused, so they wont be able to think, and the soldiers can control them easily. But its not worth it. I know these people, and they are good people. As a monk, I want there to be peace, I want people to be able to survive each day, but its impossible. I dont know what to say. Please tell people of the world what is going on, okay? I dont know who to tell about these things.