LAHU HUMANITARIAN RELIEF MISSION
EASTERN SHAN STATES
August 2003 January 2004
Relief Mission Report
January 15, 2004
One hundred thousand Wa people from the UWSA are settling on Thai-Burma border
One hundred thousand Wa people who resided on the Burma-China border will migrate into Mong Tong, Mong Hsat, Mong Ping, Mong Pyat and Tachiliek township areas from February to June 2004. This move is occurring because these areas are very large and fertile for growing poppy. Furthermore, they can get assistance with education and health care from Thai government development programs.
Addiction to narcotics
Since heroin and methamphetamines are easily available in Mong Shus ruby land, Shan State, some soldiers from the UWSA who are digging the mines have become addicted to narcotics.
Establishment of an old electric engine in a Christian compound
The buildings of a Christian headquarters have been in Naung Phar quarter, Keng Tong, the eastern part of Shan State, since 1900. Lahu, Shan, Akha and Wa religious leaders are using the buildings as their headquarters. Since 1993 SLORC set up an old noisy electric engine between the two religious buildings. Now, the SPDC officials established another four electric engines in the compound. At present, Christian office staff and leaders cannot run their activities due to these noisy engines. Furthermore, students from the boarding house cannot study their lessons. Although Christian leaders asked for a change, their efforts were in vain. It is the Lahu teams opinion that the authorities of the military junta purposely want to destroy the Christian religion.
Relief Mission Report
January 2, 2004
This report covers a Lahu relief team journey to the eastern part of Shan States in Mong Ton, Mong Hsat, Mong Ping, Keng Tong, Mong Khart, Mong Yan, Mong Pyat and Tachileik townships during August 2003. The mission then continued to the northeastern part of Shan State in the cities of Kung Hein, Mong Shu, Tang Yan, Mong Yae, Lashio, Namthu, Hsenwi, Ho Pan and Shi Paw.
Electric power stations need repair
Keng Tong is the capital of eastern Shan State. Although there are two electric power stations, Mong Khun electric power station and Nam Let electric power station, they are in bad repair. There is no electricity in Keng Tong. Occasionally residents get a dim light. The students have to buy candles from Thailand in order to study their lessons. It is very difficult for people to earn a living. They are becoming poorer every day. Patients in the hospital are also sleeping without lights. They are full of grief and anxiety, said one of the patients in the hospital.
People suffered from T.B. in the areas the team visited. There is no medicine to cure T.B., so most of the people who have the disease die.
HIV-AIDS is spreading
HIV-AIDS is spreading in the cities of Mong Tong, Mong Hsat, Mong Ping, Keng Tong, Mong Khart, Mong Yan, Mong Pyat, Mong Youn and Tachileik in the eastern part of Shan State. Many people of Burmese, Chinese, Shan, Lahu, Akha and Wa groups are dying of HIV-AIDS in the Mong Shu ruby mine areas. There are more than two hundred thousand (200,000) ruby merchants and mine workers in Mong Shus ruby land. More than one thousand people in these areas are suffering of HIV-AIDS, said one of the mines workers.
The spread of dysentery
More than one hundred people died of dysentery in Mong Shus ruby land from May to October, 2003, because of insufficient pure drinking water, said one of the mine's workers.
The situation of education in the nine townships in eastern Shan States
At present there are 200 primary schools, 17 middle schools, 13 high schools, and one college situated inside the nine townships of the eastern Shan States. All of these schools have insufficient teaching aids, furniture, stationary, exercise books, and other supplies.
Although there are many township hospitals, district hospitals and village clinics for healthcare, they are out of medicine. Patients are in trouble. They have to buy medicine outside the hospitals and clinics at high prices. Most of the people in these areas die when they have malaria. The death rates of children and the elderly have risen. The number of doctors, nurses and midwives are insufficient to take care of the patients in these hospitals.
Specific comments from individuals in the different areas visited
1. Nah Kaung Mu village.
The SPDC have oppressed the Lahu people for over 50 years by killing, capturing, kidnapping, raping and forcing villagers to carry loads. The Lahu people have recently heard about democracy and human rights and they are still expecting to get it. They want the U.S., E.U., and U.N. to get involved and help solve their problems.
2. Mong Tong.
SPDC, Wa-UWSA and some Shan occupy all the Lahu peoples lands and farms in the lowlands. They have had to escape and move to the high mountain sites to grow poppy. Since they have no income, the only way to earn their living is to produce opium. They are now talking about democracy existing in their areas. Only when that happens can they have peace and true happiness.
3. Mong Tong.
The oppressors are more fierce and vicious than in the Japanese fascist rulers era. Even if you own a pig, a cow, a chicken, a dog and a daughter, all of these things belong to them. A Burmese saying goes, whenever you raise a deer, it is eaten by a tiger. There is no security, traditional culture or rule of law in our time. Life is better at night than it is during the daytime because you can hide. People in these areas are grumbling and sighing, saying that it is better to die than to live in such an era of horror. Some questions are being raised by the people such as when will Daw Aung San Su Kyi give us democratic ways of living? Why dont the Americans and English come to help us? Dont they hear the voice of the people in our land?
4. Ho Pang - Ho Hyuet.
The land, water and air in Ho Pan, Ho Hyuet areas have been our peoples since the twelfth century. We protected our land by sacrifying our blood and lives. But now, with the help of military junta, these areas are occupied by Wa forces. We, the Lahu people, are not allowed to obtain even a plot of land or farm to earn our living. People are expecting democratic forces to wipe out the Wa forces. People are also eager and anxious to have American and British forces eliminate SPDC forces, Wa forces and some Shan forces from their native areas like in the battle of Iraq.
5. The destruction of natural environment.
(a). Teak logs are being carried to China by Wa forces.
A grove of teak trees growing near Nan Zin stream in the west of Mong Hsat township has been preserved by local people for more than a hundred years. There are so many wild animals in that green forest. However, beginning in 2000, after the road from Mong Hsat to Nam Zin stream was constructed, Wa forces have been cutting down the teak trees and sending them to the sawmill. All timbers such as planks and wooden posts were sent to China by trucks. These areas have become dry and plagued with drought. Local people in the areas are worried that the future holds bad weather.
(b). There is a big evergreen forest between Mong Yaung township and Mong Lan, Mong Mar tracts in the northeastern part of Keng Tong township. No. 815 cease-fire groups and the other wood smugglers cut down all the valuable trees and hardwood trees to sell. These areas are in a drought and the wild animals have disappeared. Even a few tigers were shot and killed in order to sell their skins, bones and heads in China. The sellers received a lot of money from these sales.
6. Selling and buying paddy fields.
There are more than one hundred thousand SPDC soldiers in Mong Tong, Mong Hsat, Keng Tong, Mong Ping, Mong Khart, Mong Yang, Mong Pyat, Mong Long and Tachileik townships. There are more than one million people working as government servants, policemen and other workers in these areas. The authorities from the areas threatened and ordered the people to sell them 24 bags of paddy per acre at unreasonable prices. The cultivators are also forced to sell the SPDC from 6 to 10 bags of paddy of their product. This has been a practice from 1962 to the present time.
The people in these areas are forced to carry loads and work in the fields which belong to the SPDC families. In fact, people are forced to do many things including to build bridges and houses, construct roads, make sanitation areas around the SPDC barracks, fetch water, cut firewood, and give pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables without payment. Although the SPDC cancelled the law of purchasing paddy through a forced system, there is no distinction between past and present practices at all. Committees of the association of purchasing and milling have been set up in every township. Now the farmers and cultivators in every township are forced to sell paddy to the SPDC forces at low prices. Purchasing committee members, farmers and cultivators are very busy and fed up with these practices.
7. The conflict between Lahu and Shan forces (identification of the latter is unclear).
There are ongoing conflicts between Lahu and Shan forces in Mong Pyat township and Tachileik township.
8. Other forest destruction.
Pine trees and hardwood trees in Ho Taung, Hwe Long and Mong Paut tracts were cut down by UWSA, Wa forces, and sent to Moe Laer city in China for sale. It is 80 square miles in area. UWSA, Wa forces, led by Pauk You Hua, the brother of Pauk You Chan, ordered the people in these areas to grow poppies instead. After selling lumber they bought chemicals from China to produce heroin and methamphetamines and often send them to Mong Hsat, Mong Ton from Keng Tong city with a large number of troops.
Some are sent to the cities of Mong Pyat and Tachileik from Keng Tong. Some are sent to Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Mae Swen La Phone and La Pan through the jungle routes into Thailand. Some are sent to Chiang Mai city and Tak province through the jungle routes from Mong Ton and Na Kaw Mu village, eastern Shan State. Their refineries are on the west bank of Nam Lween Stream in the deep forest of Mong Pyan tract. Before June 2004, five tons of heroin and five hundred million methamphetamines will be sent to Thailand, according to unverified reports by villagers in the area.