INTERNALLY DISPLACED KAREN OF NORTHERN KAREN STATE, BURMA
December 30, 2002 - January 20, 2003
To share God's Love with the Karen IDPs (Internally Displaced People): to provide medical and dental care, medical evacuation if necessary; to share educational supplies, cash for educational assistance, bibles and hymnals and devotionals; to give toys, clothes and personal gifts and "Good Life Club" packs and hats to the Karen IDP children as well as teach songs in Karen and English; and to encourage and thank the leaders and teachers, soldiers and civilians as they continue to persevere, and live in hope, despite tremendous difficulties; to remind them that Aung San Suu Kyi and many others continue to work for the restoration of Democracy for all the people of Burma, and to pray with them and tell them that the world has not forgotten them and that many churches and individuals around the world are praying for them and will join with them in prayer on March 9, 2003 for the Global Day of Prayer for Burma.
The area of northern Muthraw, Karen State, is being slowly strangled by the Burma Army. Two roads (one east-west, one north-south) bisect this area, assisting the Burma Army in its efforts to destroy and scatter the Karen here. This is the most agriculturally productive area in Northern Karen State. The following is a report of a recent relief mission to Lu Thaw Township, Muthraw (Papun) District, Karen State, Burma.
1. Three Week Mission: December 30, 2002 - January 20, 2003
2. Over 3000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) treated.
3. Route: 250 Miles covered on foot.
4. Population: 13,969 people live in this northernmost part of Muthraw District, of which 8,489 are IDPs.
5. Education: There are 65 schools in the Upper Lu Thaw Township with 1,560 students and 111 teachers. There are 3 high schools and 62 primary schools.
6. Medical Facilities: There are no medical facilities or clinics in this area.
7. Religions: Animist 70%, Christian 25%, Thompson Sect 3%, Buddhist 2%.
8. Roads: There are two main roads under construction by the Burma Army; one east-west, one north-south.
East-West: This road runs from KaukKyi east through Kae Ka Kee, Paw Gwa, Plako, and continues to Maw Pu on the Yunzalin River and on to Ler Klay Jo and finally to the village of Saw Hta on the Salween river. The road is dry season only except for the western part from KaukKyi to Kae Ka Kee which is a graveled all season road. The road is under construction (D-5 and D-6 bulldozers), and is heavily patrolled by the Burma Army. The road divides Lu Thaw Township, acting as an affective barrier to Karen movement and as the primary means of land re-supply for Burma Army units in the area. It is anchored at six points by the Burma Army.
1. KaukKyi western terminus: Three Burma Army Battalions
2. Paw Gwa, 101 Division and One Battalion
3. Plako, One Battalion
4. Maw Pu, One Battalion
5. Ler Klay Jo, One Battalion
6. Saw Hta, One Battalion
North-South; A new north-south road is being built by the Burma Army, which runs from Paw Gwa, in the south through Sa Mu Plaw and on up to Ley Mu in the north. This road is being built to connect the KaukKyi - Saw Hta road to Northern Karen State in an effort by the Burma Army to secure high yield rice tracts that the SPDC have been attacking since 1997. Most villagers in this area have been chased out of their villages and live as IDPs hiding out in the surrounding mountains where there is very little room for rice cultivation. Even there they are hunted and if found, attacked by the Burma Army.
The road is anchored at three points by the Burma Army:
1. Paw Gwa at the southern terminus: One Battalion (350 Soldiers) and a Division Headquarters - 101 Division (3500 Soldiers)
2. Sa Mu Plaw, One Battalion
3. Ley Mu at the northern terminus: One Battalion.
The SPDC plan to extend the Paw Gwa - Ley Mu road north to meet the Toungoo District.
The road from KaukKyi to Key Ka Ko is now graveled and can be used year round. From Key Ka Ko to Saw Hta on the Salween River the road is dirt and useable in the dry season only. All rivers are fordable in the dry season. The Yunzalin River is crossed via wire assisted ferry in the wet season or at times when the water is high. Therefore, access to the IDPs on the other side of the car roads is very difficult and requires much planning and preparations by the Karen as they try to move people or supplies across the road. All approaches to the road and the entire length of the road are heavily mined (primarily MM1 and MM2 mines) by the Burma Army.
Note: Construction continues on the road from Papun east to Dagwin on the Salween river and from Papun north to Kyauk Knauk on the Salween. The Burma Army continues to clear villages along these roadways creating more IDPs. All road margins are heavily mined.
DENTAL AND MEDICAL CARE:
Dental: teeth extractions and fillings.
Medical: Most common problems were malaria, diarrhea, acute respiratory infection (ARI), dysentery, anemia, hepatitis, liver disease, beri-beri, measles, burns, old injuries, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, urinary tract infection (URI), worm infestation, high blood pressure, post delivery check-up.
Note: Many of the relief team members also suffered from malaria and ARI.
- Severe eye problems in young children, with some childrens vision severely impaired, some blind, others with cataracts.
- Surgery performed by head medic and head nurse of FBR team. Patient was a 24 year old woman who had multiple pieces of shrapnel in her body from a land mine injury. One piece of shrapnel, lodged just below the back of her knee, caused her great pain and she asked if the medics could remove it for her. Using the back pack dental chair as a surgical bed the head medic, with the assistance of the nurse and other medics gave a local anesthetic and gently cut open the injury site, probed the area, and removed a nail size piece of metal shrapnel. Then the wound was stitched up and cleaned and the patient was given medicine and antibiotics and instructions on caring for the wound.
- One child, less than a year old, was treated for a severe case of urinary tract infection.
- One child was treated for a severe case of beri-beri.
- One hernia patient who could not be treated.
- One baby had a swollen head (edema) and could not be treated.
- One 9 year old girl with a club foot, in need of surgery.
- One land mine victim, Saw Kaw Mu Paw, stepped on a Burma Army land mine in July 2002, while trying to cross the car road. Will be evacuated.
- One child with fistula and hole in the bowel. Will evacuate.
- Two Karen medics stayed behind to deliver a child - later named Sara Suu.
Paw La Der: This village has been burnt down in the past and the villagers have had to flee numerous times.
Tha Oo Der: Burned down by the Burma army in 1997. All of the houses and the church at that time were constructed of solid wood. Today only three houses and the rebuilt church are made of wood the rest have been rebuilt out of bamboo.
Tha Dah Der area:
1. March 25, 2002: SPDC entered Htee Nya Mo Hta, a place where IDPs are staying. The SPDC shot the IDPs and killed one woman, Naw Sher Roe Wah, and injured another woman, Naw Roe Leh. The SPDC also burned down two barns. This happened in the They Kee Area.
2. April 3, 2002: The SPDC entered Saw Kae Khi IDP place and shot and killed a woman, Naw Moo Dah Paw. She was pregnant and gave birth just before she died. Because all the villagers were forced to flee they did not return to the area for five days. When they returned they found that the baby had also died. The SPDC also burned down one house. These incidents happened in the They Kee area.
3. April 3, 2002: Another group of SPDC shelled the IDP place called Htee Kau Day. No civilians were injured but the SPDC burned seven civilian rice paddy fields, and burned down one small building in the forest where the villagers had hidden their supplies and possessions. This happened in the Thaw Tu Kyi area.
4. April 24, 2002: The SPDC shelled the IDP place called Kau Wah Plaw, but no civilians were injured. Then the SPDC burned four civilian rice paddy fields. This happened in the Tha Tu Kyi area.
5. June 4, 2002: The SPDC shot and killed two civilians at Htee Kler Plaw. The two men that where killed were Saw Day Gay and Saw Htoo Three. This happened in the They Kee area.
6. June 7, 2002: The SPDC shot at civilians at They Kee but did not injure anyone, but after the civilians fled the area, the SPDC burned down one IDP hut.
7. October 30, 2002: SPDC light Infantry Battalion from the 101 Division/235/ Captains Name: Aung Khin, entered into Ler Mu Plaw area, Luthaw Township, Muthraw district, at the farm house known as Yu Oh Leh Hta. The Burma Army attacked:
- 1. Saw Ray Bee Wah, 35 year old man, shot and killed.
They also shot and injured five other people as they were running away:
- 2. Saw Sheen Nay Htoo, 17 year old boy, grazed in the forehead by bullet.
- 3. Saw Ti Tu , 18 year old boy, shot in the wrist.
- 4. Naw Moo Dee Wah, 8 year old girl, shot in the stomach.
- 5. Naw Ler Per Law, 15 year old girl, shot in the arm.
- 6. Saw Thay Do Wah, 38 year old man, shot in the leg.
Pay Nah Aie Pu Koh: In 1999, the villagers fled and the Burma Army troops slept in the village, ate the villagers food and burned down the homes.
Ler Kee: All villages in the area have been burned down by the SPDC, the last time in 1997. Burma Army regularly patrols and attacks IDPs in this area. The villagers continue to flee into the jungle any time SPDC troops enter the area. In April 2002, SPDC troops found one of the IDP sites/rebuilt villages, took buffalos and pigs, burned several rice paddies, and laid land mines around the village and water source after they left.
Several villagers reported incidents of Burma Army shooting members of their family. One woman whose husband had been shot remains mentally distraught and unable to care for her child. Her brother now looks after her child.
They Kee: This area is not safe as SPDC troops frequently enter and patrol.
1. Naw Eh Day Ka confirmed that on June 4, 2002 her husband, Saw Htoo Three, a farmer, was shot and killed by SPDC troops 30 minutes walk from their present IDP site. He had heard that the troops were approaching and had gone to see how far away they were. She is now raising her three children alone. Another woman reported that her husband had stepped on a landmine and died.
2. Two women reported that they had been shot and injured by SPDC troops one year ago. Both had recovered and showed scars from their injuries.
3. Head man of the IDP village told us that he and his villagers had to flee because the "Burma Army disturbs them often".
4. Between January 9 and 10, 2003, the Burma Army shot and wounded 2 civilians attempting to cross the road near Lay Mu (Sa Mu Plaw), and on 6 January 2003, they burned down a IDP rice barn.
Thaw Tu Kee: All of the villagers in this area are IDPs who live in destitute conditions without adequate food or health care or security as SPDC troops frequently patrol the area and force the villagers to flee.