SOUTH-EASTERN SHAN STATES, BURMA
March 11 25, 2003
The purpose of this relief mission to the South-Eastern Shan States was to bring help, hope and love to the IDPs and villagers of this area. A joint Karen/Karenni Relief Team and a Shan (SSA) relief team conducted a brief (2 weeks) mission in March 2003. The combined teams provided medical care and distributed educational supplies, "Good Life Club" packs, bibles, sporting equipment and toys, cassette tape players and educational tapes as well as clothes and other supplies to IDPs and villagers. The teams also encouraged the people by reminding them that they were not forgotten and even though they lived under the oppression of the Burma Army, God loved them and the world cared about them.
Relief mission to the South Eastern Shan States, March 11-25, 2003. This area is controlled by the Burma Army and United Wa State Army (UWSA- Wei Zau Kang). The Shan resistance (Shan State Army, SSA), attempts to resist the Burma Army and provide some safe areas for fleeing IDP's. Shan IDPs continue to escape from Burma Army forced relocation sites at major towns and roads. They leave in small numbers of 1-3 families and make their way to SSA areas or into Thailand. During this mission the relief team documented cases of rape, torture and forced labor as well as Burma Army involvement in the production and trafficking of heroin and amphetamines. The relief mission went to Shan, Pa-O, Chinese, and other IDPs as well as villagers living under the Burma Army and UWSA rule. IDPs and villagers received medical treatment, good life club packs, and cassette tape players, tapes and educational supplies. The mission area was from Mai Soong in the east (south of Mong Hsat, Burma), to Kang Pha in the west (northeast of Ho Mong, Burma), and north up to the Salween River. In this area the Burma Army and UWSA exercise joint control over the population as well as the growing of opium and the manufacturing of heroin. There is one main dirt road that runs from Ho Mong in the west north above the Thai border and east to Mong Kyawt and on to Mang Hsat and to the Thai border vicinity Piang Luang. Joint Burma and UWSA units are stationed along this road as well as in outposts in the surrounding mountains. In most villages at 3,000 foot elevation or above, opium is grown. This opium is taxed yearly by the Burma Army and transported along the main dirt road east through Burma Army and UWSA outposts to heroin refineries at Kang Pha, Mong Htaw, and Mong Kyawt. These labs are operated by Chinese technicians (mostly from Khun Sa's defunct MTA), and guarded by Burma Army units as well as the UWSA. There are heroin and amphetamine laboratories in Ho Mong under joint control of the Burma Army and SSS-South Shan State army-under the ethnic Wa leader Maha Ja.
Across the Salween to the north, most Shan people have been forcefully relocated to Mong Pan and Mong Ken Tong (a forced relocation site north of Mong Pan), leaving mostly Lahu, Lisu and Pa-O highland villages. These villagers are ordered to produce opium by the Burma Army and are taxed annually. The general situation is bleak, with over 15,000 Shan displaced in this area (there are more than 300,000 total displaced in the Shan States), and much of the remaining population engaged in the production of narcotics under the control of the Burma Army, directly or through the Burma Army controlled UWSA and SSS. The area the relief teams worked in was entirely under the thrall of opium and heroin. Up to a third of the male population of each village visited was smoking opium, laying in small huts, drugged and apathetic. The women do most of the work and aside from the two IDP sites secured by the SSA, there were no schools or clinics. The Burma Army taxes each village for its opium and directly oversees two of the three heroin labs in the area (Mong Htaw and Mong Kyawt). The SSA state they are not involved in the narcotics trade and have a policy to fight narcotics production and trafficking.
Burma Army, UWSA (Wei Zau Kang) and SSS Units:
(Note: Burma Army = BA, Wa Army = WA, Maha Ja Wa Army = SSS)
The total military strength of the Burma Army, UWSA and SSS in this area south of the Salween from Ho Mong in the West to Mong Kyawt in the east is 2000-2200 soldiers. Burma Army: 750-800 troops. UWSA: 700-800 troops. SSS: 500- 600 troops.
Burma Army Infantry Battalions 43 and 65 secure the area along with UWSA soldiers under Wei Zau Kang. There is also a unit of "SSS" (South Shan State army) under Maha Ja (a mix of ethnic groups but mostly Wa), who cover all movement from Ho Mong to Kang Pha. The dirt road from Ho Mong north to the Salween is being improved by the Burma Army and the SSS. The main road in the area is east-west road running west from Mong Htaw to Ho Mong in the west. The road is 5-6 meters wide, well graded, dirt and is used all year except during the rainy season. During the dry season a 4wd is not needed. This road also continues east from Mong Htaw to Mong Hsat and south east to Mai Soong. Burma Army Outposts are located between Kang Pha and Mong Htaw.
Kang Pha: 30 BA, 30 WA, 1-81mm mortar
Kong Tevee: 50 BA, 50 WA, 40-50 Chinese (from Khun Sa's Army-his secretariat and aids) 1-81 mortar
San Sue: 30 BA, 30 WA
Pa Lai: 25 WA
Kai Lung: 30 WA
Nam Kat: 30 WA
Loi Homa: 50 WA
Ho Lang: 30 WA
Mong Htaw: 50-100 BA, 50 WA (on nearby mountain), 30 Chinese (to run the heroin lab here), 81mm mortar
Mong Hta: 100 BA, 1-2 81 mm mortars
Pang Haw: 60 BA
Huay Yeow: 100 BA
Kan Kaw: 60 BA
Mai Soong: 60-80 BA, 81mm and 120mm mortars
Mong Kyawt: 100 BA, 150 WA, 25 Kokang (KKY), 30 Lahu (KKY), 35-45 Chinese, 81mm mortars
Ho Mong: 100 BA , 300 SSS and 200-300 SSS along Ho Mong valley north to the Salween river. Also 40-50 BA at Salween outpost.
DENTAL AND MEDICAL CARE:
Approximately four hundred patients were treated.
Medical: Most common illnesses treated - acute respiratory infection (ARI), dysentery, urinary tract infection (URI), common cold, malaria, vitamin deficiency, gastric problems, high and low blood pressure, and trauma.
- Three women with problems during their pregnancy: dizziness, low blood pressure and bleeding.
- One eye surgery.
- Surgery for an older man with a piece of bamboo stuck in his foot.
- One small boy with severe skin infection and ulcers, treated.
- One surgery was performed on a young girl who had a severe infection in her finger.
Dental: Extractions and fillings.
Rape victims: The team interviewed three Shan IDP women who were raped by soldiers of the Burma Army between April and August 2002. Their names and villages have been suppressed for their protection.
1) Nang Xxx, 33 yrs. old, married with 2 children. In August of 2002 she was raped in her rice field in the vicinity of Xxx village, which is near Wan Kun Lu village. The soldier who raped her was one of thirty Burma Army soldiers on patrol. The soldiers held her down and one raped her. There were three other women raped in her village. Her husband was also frequently forced to porter for the Burma Army and was beaten. They fled to an IDP site at Xxx Xxx in December, 2002.
2) Nang Xxx, 37 yrs. old, married with 2 children. In August of 2002 she was raped by a soldier of the Burma Army in her home at Wan Xxx, Lai Ka township. During the rape she lost consciousness. Five or six Burma Army soldiers came into her house. One soldier held her arms and covered her eyes with a cloth, while another held her feet and a third soldier raped her. The other soldiers stole her goods and shot two chickens with a slingshot. "I screamed but there were only women in the village at the time and I was helpless. I passed out. We came herein December of 2002, 2 months ago. I am very afraid. My heart is weak now because I am so afraid."
3) Nang Xx Xxx, 37 yrs. old, married with 1 child, from Xxx Xx village, which is near Wan Hi Seng village. In April of 2002, she was walking to take rice to her husband in their rice field when "many" Burma Army troops appeared. Five or six raped her. She lost consciousness and was later found by relatives and taken by oxcart to the village clinic. Her husband found her there. "We came here because I was raped, the Burma Army oppressed us and we were afraid. In the past two years there has been a great increase in rapes in our area of the Shan States. We want the world to know it; to help us go home. The SSA help us here but we want to go home. No one is left at our village, all have fled."
1) Loong XXX, 50 yrs, male, wife and 4 children, from Xxx Xxx, Shan States. Forced to porter for the Burma Army 10 yrs ago and was fed only a handful of rice every day. "I was beaten with a heavy stick until I passed out. They fractured my skull, broke my jaw and cheek and blinded me in one eye. Then they left me for dead. Some villagers found me and helped me." When he could he fled with his family to the jungle and eventually made it to this IDP site.
2) Sai XXX, age 30. Shot in the mouth by the Burma Army as he tried to run away from portering duties. Still severely scarred and has difficulty eating. There are also 8 victims of landmines at this site, each missing a leg.
1) Xxx Xxx, a village headman, is 44 yrs old and he came here because the Burmese military burned his village and "oppressed the people". He has seen 2 people killed by the Burma Army with his own eyes.
2) Xxxx Xxx Xx, male, 48 yrs. old. He is married and has 4 children. In 1997, the Burma Army began forced relocation from his area so he hid in the jungle secretly growing his rice. The Burma Army found him in 1998 and burned his rice. He was shot twice by the Burma Army because they believed he was a Wa soldier. He has been here at this IDP site for 2 years. The name of the forced relocation site he fled from is Pang Long.
3) Xxx Xx (Xx year old with X children), explained to us that the Burma Army came to this village (Jew Kaw) 3 times a year and taxed 8,000 Baht, 1 viss of opium and 1 chicken per family. The Burma Army was last here March 1, 2003, and slept in the village 1 night. They came from a southern camp, Kong Te Wee, on their way to the Salween River.
SSA soldiers: The team interviewed many SSA soldiers during this mission and the following are two examples.
Xx Xx is 33 yrs old and joined the SSA 4 months ago. He went through basic training for 2 months and this is his first mission. He said that he could no longer watch his people suffer the oppression of the Burma Army and had to do something to fight it so he joined the SSA. His hope is that all Shan people as well as all people in Burma will have freedom one day. When asked what he thought about the mission he said he thought it was very good and would like to continue this type of work helping his people.
Xxx Xxx is 35 yrs old and joined the SSA in December 2002. He said he could not sit back and watch his people suffer any longer under the Burma Army so he joined the SSA. Eleven years ago he left his home to look for work. His family in Burma are farmers, but they are unable to farm due to the Burma Army's oppression. This is his first mission and when asked what he thought about it he said he thought it was very good. He said, "we have our own land and homes that we love, I would like to see my country be free."
When asked about this mission every soldier the team talked to said they would like to do it again. They wanted to bring aid, medical care and hope for their people. They all stressed the fact that they wanted to continue to work together with different ethnic groups with the goal being freedom for all people of Burma.
- Passed four old heroin labs, from Khun Sa's time (with 55 gallon drums, bottles, pots, cans of chemicals-empty, cooking/rendering pits, hoses).
- Told that the Burma Army contacts for businessmen to hire local villagers (IDP's) to harvest the poppy fields.
- The following written orders from the Burma Army and UWSA outpost at Kong Tee Wee to area villages were shown to the team.
#1. 26 November 2002
"Send us chickens, 2 viss, to Kong Tee Wee," from Battalion 43.
#2. 12 March 2002
From: Kong Tee Wee Camp - Commander Aye Win, Burma Army, (this camp also has UWSA and 30-40 Chinese from the past MTA)
"To the headman of Kong Ka village, from Kong Tee Wee, 'To all villagers, we need your help. Send 4,000 Baht from all villages in the area. Don't say we can't help. You have to help us always and in the future. Send the money to Tam Bo village or bring it to Kong Tee Wee. Tam Bo village headman will collect the money from other villages."
"Written By Chum Hom Lom" (Chinese from Chinese unit at Kay Tee Wee, attached to Battalion 43 of Burma Army).
- South-west of Nam Mak Thee, came upon a 4wd pick-up truck with Burmese plates. The truck had just dropped off a group of Chinese further south along the road and was delivering supplies to villagers in the area. The team continued walking and found the group of Chinese who had constructed a sleeping hut and kitchen. They had also started work on what the SSA said was to be a heroin laboratory. There was a 6' long by 4' wide and 3' deep pit dug 20-30' feet above a small stream. This was similar to the other old heroin laboratories we had encountered earlier. The team was told that the pit is for the boiling and rendering of raw opium, which is then gravity fed down to bottles below. When questioned the Chinese group said they were "making white powder". This can mean the making of lime or it is also the expression for refining opium to heroin. They would not answer for whom they were making the powder and were visibly nervous and angry. The SSA said the Chinese were working for the UWSA (Wei Zau Kang), under the protection of the Burma Army. The SSA said that the SSA and UWSA try to avoid attacking each other but that the SSA will attack all known narcotics sites. According to the SSA, this site would not be attacked at this time as there were not yet any narcotics here, this was a relief mission and they wanted to avoid a fight, and since the Burma Army was closely following the team, this site should only be reported on at this time. The SSA said they did not want to fight fellow ethnics and any attack on UWSA operations had to be cleared with the SSA Headquarters. The team moved on. Location of this site: N 19 53 59 E 098 15 38; Elevation: 776m.
- Found an elephant that had died after stepping on a Burma Army landmine.