MISSION: PAAN DISTRICT OF KAREN STATE, BURMA
May 26, 2003 - June 9, 2003
Treatment of emergency case
Man shot by DKBA
Relief team singing with IDPs
This area of Paan District is under severe oppression by the Burma Army (BA) and their proxies, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA). Every village and IDP site visited reported regular forced labor, beatings and shooting incidents by the BA and DKBA. One village had been recently burned down by the DKBA. In a village further south, one civilian male was shot by the DKBA as he was walking home. In yet another attack, this time by the BA, two children were shot by troops as they were tending their cattle. Both children and the man survived and were treated by the joint FBR team (Karen, Karenni, Shan and Kachin medics, human rights workers, pastors, and teachers). The relief team treated patients, interviewed villagers and IDPs, distributed "Good Life Club Packs," educational supplies, toys, sporting equipment, bibles and hymnals, medicine, and limited cash assistance.
There are five major road construction projects in this area and for each of these the BA forces all surrounding villages to provide labor. While the relief team was in this area, the BA mortared a village that had not supplied enough labor for a construction project. The DKBA also shelled villagers as they worked their fields because they had not provided enough labor to help the DKBA build a new outpost.
The situation is bad and deteriorating. Without intervention on behalf of the IDPs and villagers in this area, many more people will attempt to flee to refugee camps in Thailand. Ethnic people in Burma face the problems outlined in this report daily and often the situation is worse, especially in the northern Karen State and Karenni and Shan States. While the dictators crush the democracy movement in central Burma and continue to hold Aung San Suu Kyi, they also continue to brutally oppress the ethnic peoples and war against them without mercy.
This report details the current situation as well as incidents of murder, torture, destruction of homes and property, and forced labor.
1. Mission: May 26, 2003 - June 9, 2003.
2. Medical and dental treatment: Over 1,200 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and villagers received medical and dental treatment during this mission. The main problems treated were acute respiratory infection, malaria, diarrhea and dysentery. Medicine was left with the District leader, in a few villages that the team could not stay in for very long, and with teachers for their students.
3. Area described: North-Central Paan District, Karen State, Burma. The area described is approximately 40-50 square kilometers bounded by the towns of Hlaingbwe and Paingkyon in the south to Shanywathit and Mae Tha Waw in the North and east to Kler Day and Wa Kyaw along the Moei river bordering Thailand.
4. New developments-Roads: The BA continues to use forced labor on its road building operations in this area. There are five major road projects. Four are improvements of existing roads that together, completely encircle this area and the fifth is a new north-south road that once completed, will divide this area in two.
- 1. The first is the improvement of the road running from Shanywathit, north and then northwest to Mae Tha Waw on the Thai border. Villagers along the road line are forced to work on this road as well as to porter for the BA and DKBA soldiers who patrol it. This road is usable all year except for the rainy season.
- 2. The second road project is the improvement of the road running east from Shanywathit to Kler Day, and then south paralleling the Thai border on the west side of the Moei River. Villagers are forced to work on the road and to porter for the BA and DKBA. This is a three season road but not as good as the Shanywathit - Mae Tha Waw road.
- 3. The third project is the improvement of the road running parallel to the Thai border on the west side of the Moei River from Kler Day south to Wa Kyaw. This road then continues southwest crossing the Dawna Range south of the headwaters of the Paingkyon River, then continues southwest to the town of Paingkyon. There is also a spur road that runs east from Wa Kyaw to the Moei River opposite Mae Than, Thailand.
- 4. The fourth road project is the improvement of the north-south road that runs from Hlaingbwe to Shanywathit. Here there is also forced labor and portering.
- 5. The fifth is a new road that is being constructed from Melaung (10km southeast of Hlaingbwe), northeast to Htee Per, and then north to Shanywathit. This road is being constructed using the forced labor of area villagers as well as two bulldozers.
5. The BA and DKBA: In this area the BA continues to strengthen its positions and has also significantly increased its support of the DKBA. The BA has three Tactical Operation Commands in this area with over 10 subordinate infantry battalions. Fire support consists of 60, 81 and 120mm mortars. The BA numbers over three thousand in this immediate area and while it is the more powerful force; it increasingly delegates responsibility to the DKBA. There has been an increase of DKBA attacks on villages as well as increased DKBA operations that are not directly supported logistically or with BA troops. The BA still controls all major security, defensive and offensive operations as well as infrastructure operations and security for those operations. It also overseas all DKBA actions and gives them operational orders down to the platoon and section level when it deems the situation requires that. It also reinforces the DKBA on major operations against the KNU. At the same time it gives the DKBA wide latitude to conduct its own operations. The DKBA has two brigades operating in this area (555 and 999) and one battalion of 333 Brigade in the vicinity of Manerplaw. The total DKBA strength in this area is over 2,000.
While the DKBA are co-located with the BA at some camps, they have also built numerous camps of their own that are garrisoned by the DKBA alone. Over 100 DKBA troops of the 555 Brigade are now constructing a new camp using forced labor near Kho Thaw Khi south of Shanywathit.
In general the DKBA is less disciplined than the BA and far worse equipped. Their morale is low and they complain of domination by the BA yet so far there has been no meaningful resistance to BA orders.
Both the BA and DKBA continue to violate the human rights of the people in this area by the use of forced labor, beatings, torture, shootings, murder, the burning of villages and the forced relocation of villagers.
6. Narcotics: The BA and the DKBA operate at least one methamphetamine production site south of Paan town south of this area, but there are no known production sites in the area described in this report. However, there are in this area methamphetamine storage and transload sites that are jointly operated by the BA and DKBA. Most of these sites are located along the west bank of the Moei River across from the Thai border.
Mission purpose: To bring help, hope and love to IDPs and villagers in this area and to report on the continuing oppression by the dictators of Burma.
Medical and dental care:
In some villages the majority of the patients were children. Illnesses/problems treated included dysentery, malaria, eye and ear infections, acute respiratory infection, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, gastritis, anemia, multivitamin deficiency, malnutrition, worms, common cold, asthma, pregnancy, and mumps. Dental care included fillings and extractions.
Name: Saw XXX XXX, male, head villager
IDP Site: XXX XXX, population: over 300 people. This IDP site is five miles from a BA camp with 200 soldiers. The people living here were originally from Mae Kre village, which was burned by the BA. The BA also mined the area, forcing the villagers to flee. There is no school in this village and no medical facilities.
The villager said the BA and DKBA often beat them and forced them to be porters when they were in Mae Kre. They beat children, looted chickens, pigs and other livestock, and destroyed houses. The villagers were forced to cut and carry bamboo to the BA camps, which were very long distances. They were given very small amounts of food and no pay for their work. When the DKBA forced them to be porters they were given one tin of rice, but for the BA they were only given one very small meal each day. As porters, they were required to ask permission to go to the toilet, and were guarded while they slept. They were often asked to carry things on whole day trips from Kler Day to Klaw Day BA camps.
He also reported that on August 26, 2001 the people who now live in XXX XXX were forced to leave their village in Mae Kre. Everyone had to leave. Some villagers had left earlier and gone to Thailand, and later returned to this IDP site. They had to leave Mae Kre because the BA accused them of supporting the Karen resistance movement and said, "This is not a village, this is a ringworm village." ('Ringworm' is the term used by the BA to refer to the Karen people.) The BA ordered their village to relocate to a place closer to the Kler Day car road and BA camp at Kler Day. Mae Kre was north of the road, but the place they were ordered to relocate to is south of the car road. This would put them in an area completely enclosed by roads controlled by the BA and DKBA. None of the villagers moved after they were ordered to relocate, so the BA and DKBA came. The villagers had to flee Mae Kre, lost the majority of their belongings, and the BA and DKBA burned their village.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 45 years old
IDP Site: XXX XXX
In his experience as a porter three years ago, he served with villagers from Mae Da Mu who were also forced to work for the BA. There was a man who was 30 years old who was tortured while he was there. He did not know the reason they tortured him, but the BA soldiers tied his wrists, hung him in the air, tied his knees together, and put a fire under him. They started to burn him alive. The other porters pleaded with them to let him go. The soldiers let him down, and tied his wrists to his ankles. The BA soldiers swore at him because he was moaning. XXX XXX was there as a porter at the same time as this man and saw him while he was unconscious. The man died that night.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 30 years old
Village: XXX XXX, 12 houses (about 50 people, including 20 children) in village, no school
This is not their original village. In 1984, some villagers ran away from a BA attack on their village to refugee camps, and others stayed in villages near the Thai-Burma border until 1995/1996. In 1995 and 1996 some villagers started moving back and started the village again in the same general area. Before they left, there was a school in the village. Now there is no school.
Normally, once a month they get orders to be porters for the BA. Yesterday (May 28, 2003) was the most recent order to porter. They asked for 5 people for one day. They will carry supplies from the BA Camp to the DKBA camp Doh Doh. The orders come from the BA camp at Shanywathit through the DKBA. The name of the commander of the BA there is Maung Nan Aung. There are over 1,000 soldiers at the camp.
Every day one villager from XXX XXX must go to the DKBA camp nearby and wait there for twenty-four hours, when another villager replaces them. If there is an order to porter, the villager will tell the village when they return to the village. Occasionally the BA talks directly to the village. Women (sometimes 14-15 year olds) have to be porters for the DKBA also.
During times of fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the BA/DKBA the BA and DKBA will demand money, cows, and chickens from the villagers as a punishment for the fighting. There are a lot of landmines on trails and near the BA and DKBA camps.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 45 years old, married, farmer
Village: XXX XXX, 24 households, over 100 people
Name: XXX XXX, female, 48 years old, married, 5 children, farmer
Village: XXX XXX, 33 houses, 147 people
Both villages (XXX XXX and XXX XXX) have to send one person to the BA camp, they stay there for twenty-four hours and then rotate with two new villagers. The villagers often have to be porters for the BA and DKBA. They are forced to be porters one or two times per month. There have been porters who have stepped on land mines. Sometimes they are asked by the BA and DKBA to clean the car road. The reason they are asked to clean the car road is to be human land mine sweepers. No villager has stepped on a land mine during the times they have cleaned the road. One BA soldier stepped on one and complained to their villages, saying, " If we step on a land mine again, we will burn your house down, we will kill you, and move you away." They made this threat three months ago when BA soldiers went as a group to both villages.
One week ago the BA (commander name: Kyi Tun, and camp name: Htee Wa Kyo) ordered both villages to supply porters. Three people from XXX XXX and one XXX XXX had to carry supplies for the BA from Htee Wa Kyo to Maw Po Klaw camp (a ten hour walk one way). They came back the next morning.
The BA often (about two times per month) steals rice, salt, chili, chickens, pigs, and other livestock from the villagers. XXX XXX village prepared everything for a school, with all the wood and furniture, but the BA took all of it in January 2003.
Yesterday (May 29, 2003) the BA called all the villagers to their camp and made them carry the Army's food supplies from Htee Wa Kyo to Mae Ta Mu Hta. 7-10 people had to go from each village. Sometimes children are made to porter.
Name: X Kyaw Por, male, 56 years old, married, 2 children, farmer
Village (originally from): XXX XXX, 34 houses
Village (presently living in): XXX XXX (near XXX XXX), 10 houses (50 people)
They do not live in their original village. They moved here because of BA persecution. The BA forced them to relocate in 2001, and so everyone moved, but they had to crowd into 10 houses rather than 34. This year BA soldiers commanded the villagers to clean the car road from Kya Hta Lay Koh to Tin Nyar Lay Kyo.
In 2001 he was village leader in XXX XXX. They experienced much persecution. In June 2001 one BA soldier left the army. The BA came to XXX XXX and said he took the soldier to Kawthoolei (Karen State) and used that as an excuse to torture him. The BA made him go to Shanywathit camp. The BA interrogated him for two days, asked him about the KNLA. After two days, at 4pm, the troop commander (Thaung Mya Oo), #66 Division, Tactical Operation Command #2, came and tied him up and put him in a room. Soldiers, including Tun Win, the company commander, tied his neck, tied his wrists behind his back (one arm was released for him to eat and to go to the bathroom), and they ties his ankles together. They kept him there for 14 days, tied up the whole time. Throughout these 14 days, the BA soldiers hit his head with the front of their guns, and there is a visible scar there. They knocked his teeth out with their guns, they kicked him with their feet and knees, and they beat him all over his body with their guns. He felt like he lost his mind many times. The soldiers would continue to kick him during the 14 days. Three times, the BA soldiers asked other porters to dig a hole to bury him in after they killed him, but he was never killed. He asked the BA to kill him because he was suffering so much. After the fourteen days they brought him back to his village, but told him he had to go and meet the BA soldiers every day. He did that for two days and then fled and stayed somewhere he could hide. After he ran away, his village moved because there was no head villager. The DKBA comes close to where he stays now (they go to XXX XXX) and his village gets their orders through that village.
In April 2003 the BA had the villagers work one day on their camp (Tin Nyar Lay Kyo).
Name: Saw XXX XXX, male, 37 years old, married, 3 children, farmer, head villager
Village: XXX XXX, 90 houses (700-800 people)
They have a school (1-4th standards).
May 27, 2003 there was shooting between the KNLA and BA. The BA came to his village after that and asked the villagers to meet them and said they should have told them that the KNLA was going to attack, and next time if they didn't tell them, the BA threatened to attack their village.
Every day one person has to go to the BA camp (Kho Maw Khee) and stay for 12 hours. They are on a four village rotation to send someone, so every fourth day someone from XXX XXX goes to the BA camp and waits. Htun Htun Win is the company commander at that camp. There are new troops at the camp (they have been there for about a week), so he doesn't know the exact number at that camp. The BA is making bunkers near the temple close to the camp.
A car could go to their village. From the village to Hlaingbwe it is 3 hours. The DKBA and BA come to their village and shoot their chickens. The DKBA is worse than ever before. They shoot their chickens every time they come to the village and would beat him if they knew he told someone about it. They never pay for the chickens. Last year, the DKBA accused three villagers of being part of the Karen National Union (KNU) and beat them. One man is still sick from that beating. The others needed two months to recover and one has psychological damage.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 32 years old, married, 5 children, business man, head villager for XXX XXX village
Village: XXX XXX, 40 houses (300 people)
His family is in Thailand, but he married someone from this area. There is a school with two teachers in his village. In 1985 the BA burned down the village. In 1995 and 1996 people returned to the site and they built the village up again.
In 1995, he was shot by the BA in his village. He was on his way to visit his mother-in-law in a village northwest of Shanywathit. When he crossed the car road the BA shot him. His village has a traditional medicine place that helped him.
Two weeks ago, the BA came to their village and ate one chicken and made no payment for it.
Two or three weeks ago the villagers went to Maw Po Kla with eight carts to buy supplies. They met BA at Maw Po Kla and they were told to not buy their supplies, but to carry the BA supplies to the BA camp at Kho Maw Kee, and then they were released.
The village has to send one villager every day to BA camp (Kho Maw Khee) and they stay there for 12 hours waiting for orders for the village. Sometimes the villagers are called to porter, but not recently. Every time the BA comes to the village they demand chickens, pigs, and other livestock. If the villagers don't give it to them, they just kill it themselves and make no payment for it. Four or five days ago the BA went to XXX XXX village and ate a goat. They told the villagers in XXX XXX village to pay their debt for the goat to XXX XXX village.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 33 years old, married, 4 children, head villager of XXX XXX, highland slash and burn farmer
Village: XXX XXX, 70 houses, 350 people
One week ago the BA asked for one chicken from the village and didn't pay for it.
In April 2003 the villagers cut trees down and prepared to build a school. The BA came and asked a penalty of 5 viss of pork (7.5 kilos) for cutting down the trees.
Every day one villager has to go stay at the BA camp (Kho Maw Kee camp, close to the Buddhist monastery and the other car road) from one of the four villages in the rotation. They stay there for 12 hours. There are 30 BA soldiers there.
Yesterday he went there. They have 1 60-mm mortar, 1 RPG7, and 3 M79 grenade launchers. The DKBA has a base in Maw Po Glaw with 20-30 soldiers. The DKBA troops are from the other side of the Salween, and are reinforcements to the troops here so they can attack the KNLA. These DKBA troops come on a three-month rotation from 5th Brigade.
Most villagers here support and prefer the KNLA because they have the interests of the people in mind. "The DKBA eats food and rice from the BA, so their heart is like their father (BA). When the DKBA comes here we don't know if they are our relatives or not."
The BA doesn't want to fight, so they support the DKBA to fight. Before the BA came and gave them trouble and now the DKBA control things. Maybe the DKBA control is better because the villagers have more of a chance to reason with them because they are Karen.
Please let outsiders know that some people here don't have enough food or money.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 50 years old, married, 7 children, farmer
Village (old): Kee Pah Day Khi
Village (where presently living): XXX XXX
When the villagers used to live in Kee Pah Day Khi, the BA and DKBA stole pigs, chickens and other livestock. They shot them with slings and made no payment for them. The DKBA then came and burned the village down, so they fled to XXX XXX. The reason the DKBA gave for burning the village was because one KNU man was married here, so the village was accused of being a KNU base.
There is one lady still living in the village. The DKBA doesn't bother her because she is close to 100 years old.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 25 years old, married, leader of eight villages in the area.
Village: XXX XXX
Every day someone from Tha Ree Po Kwee has to go to the BA camp. (LIR 703). They are on a four village rotation. In his village, people are afraid of the BA and DKBA. The BA and DKBA accuse them of working with the KNU. Whatever the BA and DKBA say, the villagers feel they have to accept.
The villagers sometimes have to clean the car road and ask them for the cart to carry their supplies. People have to go and carry the supplies if the cart can't go. When they clean the car road, they have to clean 15 feet on each side of the road.
April 2002, the DKBA ate a pig which cost 36,000 kyat and they didn't pay the villagers. On May 28, 2002 the BA and DKBA came to a rice field and captured three villagers and beat them. They thought the villagers were KNU. They tied them up and brought them to the commander's place and one of the villagers was punched in the face and they were also beaten with the butt of the soldier's guns. The DKBA commander is Daw Boe. This head villager had to go and vouch for them.
In May 2003 the BA asked 3 bullock carts to carry their ammunition and food from Ta Ree Po Kwee to Glaw Ka Tee (6 miles). The column commander of this BA group is Htun Htun Win. Once a month they have to do work like this and if they fail to do it, they are charged.
On May 25-28, 2003, the villagers were asked to build a bridge at Ga Ma Ko (near Kyaw Hta Lay Koh). There are many land mines in that area, so the villagers didn't want to go, but they were forced to. The villagers were told that if they didn't finish the bridge in time (at the time of this interview it was not finished), they will be charged either money or chickens for each day it is late.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 55 years old, married, 4 children, paddy farmer, head villager of XXX XXX.
Village: XXX XXX
Yesterday (June 1, 2003) at 2pm, the BA (20 soldiers) came to the village and asked him how long he has been an elder. They slapped his face and then kneed him. They pointed at him with a gun and said don't run away or they would kill him. He had to go to Kho Maw Khee camp, where they interrogated him. Then they let him go back to his village. Four villagers were beaten in total and thirteen villagers altogether had to go to the camp.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 33 years old, married, 2 children
Village: XXX XXX
He came back from the slash and burn fields and was getting ready to eat when a BA soldier pointed a gun into his house and told him to follow the soldiers. They asked him to be their guide and punched his forehead and his neck six times. They didn't like the way he was guiding them to Tha Ree Po Kwi. They told him not to follow the trail.
Name: XXX XXX, 16 years old
Village: XXX XXX
He was cooking, the BA asked him to come down from his house and that was when they kicked him and punched him in the head three times. They beat him in the back two times.
Name: XXX XXX
Village: XXX XXX, more than 60 households
On May 27th, 2003, the DKBA came to the village and beat him with a stick two times and punched him three times. The DKBA asked if KNLA soldiers were there, the head villager said no - maybe they are on the hill nearby. The DKBA sent the village messenger to find porters. Everyone had gone to the slash and burn fields at that point, so the DKBA beat the head villager because they had to wait too long for the messenger to find porters. Then the DKBA told the head villager to tell the KNLA soldiers about them, and then they beat him. They brought the head villager to Lay Kho (DKBA camp) for two days. Then they sent him back; he slept one night in the village and the next day a KNLA officer wanted to see him. On his way to the meeting, the head villager was captured, taken to Myan Gee Ngu (DKBA headquarters) and beaten three times. At the time of the interview he was still there. Some of the villagers have gone to try and get him back.
The DKBA have asked villagers to build their Lay Kho camp, which is near Kaw Tho Khi, north of Htee Per, and south of Htee Mu Khi, Htee Pah Ree Khi, and Wah Meh Klah. Three villagers from each village were asked to go. The villages asked to send three people each were Wa Mi Kla, Htee Pah Re' Khi, Hter Moe Khi, Khaw Thoo Khi, Plaw Nya Thi, and Tu' Klaw Plaw, for a total of 18 people. These 18 people have to go for three days and then rotate with another 18 villagers. The DKBA said they want to build a good camp, so they have plans to ask thirty people from each village in the future. They bought hoes and staves for them to use. The DKBA does not pay the villagers. The villagers have to bring their own food to work. The DKBA has 110 troops at this camp.
The DKBA doesn't allow the villagers to go to their fields. When they enter the village, they ask for chickens. When villagers give the chickens to them, they shoot more (total of 20). No payment has been made by the DKBA to the villagers. The whole village wants to leave. Some want to go west to relatives, others would like to go to refugee camps. Nobody wants to be the head villager. Two families are ready to leave to the border, but they face the difficulty of no entrance to camps or to neighboring countries. They are trying to decide whether to endure the situation, or face arrest or deportation if they go to neighboring countries. Maybe in the dry season everyone will leave.
One man's two longyis were stolen by the DKBA.
There has been increased support by the DKBA, so they are much stronger. Paan District has the strongest DKBA presence in Karen State. The DKBA #555 has over 1,000 men. DKBA #999 also has over 1,000 men for a total of over 2,000 DKBA in the area.
Yesterday the DKBA shot two 60-mm mortar rounds into slash and burn fields near Htee Mo Khi from Lay Kho camp. They had asked the village for 50 roof leaves and the villagers didn't have enough that same day and that was the reason for the shooting.
This morning the villagers had to come to the treatment site one by one, pretending they were going to their fields, in case they met the DKBA on the way here. If they know they were coming to be given medical treatment, they will be beaten.
The villagers endure this because they have families and children, and if they don't do the work, they know the result will be bad.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 28 years old, married, 3 children, slash and burn farmer
Name: XXX XXX, male, 40 years old, married, 5 children, paddy farmer
Village: XXX XXX, 40 houses (approximately 250 people)
Every day, every villager has to go and build the DKBA camp at Lay Kho. They cut trees, clean the land, and carry food. No food is given to them or payment for their work. The villagers go to this work at 6am and return at 6pm. Two weeks ago they were forced to start this work and have had no rest days since then. The last four days, they asked for villagers to come in smaller numbers. Yesterday they asked for seven people. They have one or two breaks during the day. This work will continue until the dry season and possible longer. The villagers will have no chance to work in their own fields.
The village is close to the DKBA camp so there are many problems. "This kind of life is difficult, we don't know what to do."
Last month the DKBA and BA came into their village and took their chickens and did not pay for them.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 30 years old, married, 1 child, business man
Village: XXX XXX, 50 houses
He was a labor porter for the DKBA camp. They have asked their village for porters every day since the beginning of April. He has gone two times already. He arrived back from the last time on Sunday. He had to follow the DKBA troops (#999, commanders name is Saw Dah, camp is at Su Hta) while they were on patrol. He carried food and ammunition. The camp is a two-hour walk from Takreni. They did not pay him. They gave him food (which the head villager had to provide to the DKBA). While he was a porter there were between 7-15 other porters with him. Two days ago his head villager, Kyaw Khaw, was beaten by the DKBA. The DKBA asked him to come and see them at another village, where they beat him.
"If the outside world can help us, I will be happy."
Man shot by DKBA.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 29 years old, married, paddy farmer
Village: XXX XXX
He was on his way to Hlaingbwe to buy supplies and food by himself. On the way back, he passed one DKBA soldier riding a bicycle along with his two guides/messengers. He passed by them and about 50-100 meters later, the DKBA soldier shot him in the back with his carbine. He didn't say anything before the shooting. He fell down, and the villagers didn't dare to help him. A monk helped him and sent him to a hospital in Paan. He doesn't know where the guy who shot him went. All of his possessions were left by the side of the road when he was taken to the hospital. He stayed in the hospital for 20 days. Until now he can't lift heavy things, he coughs up blood, and there is blood in his urine. The DKBA soldier who shot him is named Naw Chu, and his village is Yah Say. There was no explanation for the shooting.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 25 years old, married, one child
Old Village: Bla Hta
New Village: XXX XXX, 7 houses
One year ago, they started moving to this new site and building houses and making fields. They moved here for survival. If they stay in the old village, there is to place close by to make slash and burn fields. They may move again soon. Also, it helps them get further away from the forced labor. Sometimes the BA and DKBA from Kler Day camp ask for roof leaves and money (50 Baht per time) from their village.
Approximately two times per month and sometimes more often, these villagers have to be porters for the BA and DKBA. March 2003 they had to carry rice from Shanywathit to Kler Day. The villager had to carry rice sacks up the hill to Kler Day camp from trucks. Last March, Kler Day villagers had to carry rice for the BA and one villager stepped on a land mine and had to have his leg amputated.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 45 years old, married, 3 children, second in charge of XXX XXX village, slash and burn farmer
Village: XXX XXX, 28 houses
In the first week of June 2003, he had to go and carry beef tins, sardines, milk, sugar, beans, and rice for the BA from Kler Day to Baw Ba Ta, a total of 10 hours one way. He went there and back in one day. Everyone except one or two villagers was forced to do this work. He thinks that they are lucky the BA didn't kill them, because there weren't as many people as they asked for.
An older woman from the village had to do this forced portering. She and the others who do this work are only given enough rice to survive and a small drop of shrimp paste with their rice. The BA tells them, "You are tired, put your basket down". Just when they have put the basket down and are sitting they tell them the break is over and make them get up and start walking again.
This type of forced labor happens to this village all the time. Sometimes the whole village, including the old women, young girls and boys as young as 11 years old are made to carry as much as they can. Everybody carries one sack of rice, including the young boys and girls. They carry at least 48-55 kilos each, the same as the adults are made to carry. (One sack equals 3 tins, and one tine is 16 kilos).
This village does not have to send a person every day to the BA camp, but the village closer, Htee Ler Doh, goes and they send word if they need people from here.
Name: XXX XXX, male, 38 years old, married, 6 children, head villager
Village: XXX XXX, 20 houses. This village is 10 years old. They moved to it from close by.
These villagers are often forced to porter for the BA and DKBA. They are never paid or given food to eat for their work.
Today the BA asked for seven porters, but the village didn't send them.
Usually they have to carry food supplies from Kler Day to Baw Ba Ta for the BA and also carry barbed wire to surround the BA camps. Last month they had to carry supplies from Shanywathit to Kler Day camp. Women and children (as young as 10 years old) were forced to carry supplies also. They made pairs of children to carry the barbed wire for the BA Kler Day camp. Their loads were as heavy as 50-60 kilos. Sometimes when they ask the children to carry the loads, and they are too heavy, the children cry and can not make it. The elders then have to carry their own loads the whole way, and go back and carry the child's load also.
Last month the DKBA came to the village and ate four of the head villager's chickens. They often take pigs and goats. Sometimes the villagers are given penalties and have to pay money to the DKBA and BA. Last year this head villager was beaten by the DKBA. In June 2002 the DKBA told him he was a liar because they said he saw KNLA troops go back and didn't inform them. They punched him in his chest once, hit his cheek with the butt of their M79 guns, and also hit his back with the butt of their guns. This was a special DKBA group from the headquarters. The commander's name is Pah Dee.
This village to Kler Day and Shanywathit is a total of six hours there and six hours return.
If the villagers don't go and porter, they are threatened. A villager they know from nearby stepped on a land mine while working as a porter for the BA and his head villager helped him go to Beh Klor refugee camp for help.
"We are always living in fear, and have to work hard for the BA and DKBA. If you can help us, we need freedom."
They need teachers and education because the children here can't read and write. Last year this village tried to build a school, but when they asked for teachers, the salary was too high for the village to afford (7,000 Baht per year). They would like one teacher to teach 4 standards. "If we can survive here, we would like a school for our children."
He stays here because he doesn't know where to go. If they try to go to Beh Klor, they have heard they will be told they don't have a UN card and can't stay there. If they try to go to neighboring countries, they have heard they will be arrested.
#19 and #20
Interviews with two recently escaped (defected), DKBA soldiers.
Name: Saw XX of DKBA Brigade 555.
Saw XX was one of the DKBA soldiers who took part in the burning of Si Pa Lay Kee village south of Htee Hta Blu Hta on 18 October, 2002. He said he felt remorse for that and all the terrible things the DKBA did to their fellow Karen. "The DKBA does not care for the people, it only takes what it wants and causes the people to suffer. I don't want to be a DKBA any more. I ran away to join the KNU to help my people be free. The BA will not help us and uses the DKBA."
Name: Saw XX XX of DKBA Brigade 555.
Saw XX XX said he too was disillusioned with the DKBA and wanted to join the KNU. He too took part in village burning and said he was very sorry for that. "I want to help my people, I don't want to hurt them".
After completing these final interviews and conducting an after action review, the team departed the area, mission complete. We thank all of you who support these teams and we thank God. God bless you all. "de oppresso liber"