THE FIFTY-FIVE THAT DISAPPEARED
information concerns the arrest and disappearance of 55 Karen villagers and
Gods Army soldiers who turned themselves over to the Thai 9th Infantry
Division in February 2000. Since their arrest by the Thai authorities on February
19, 2000, none of the 55 have been seen or heard from by family
members, friends, and members of the Karen/border community. Thai 9th Infantry
Division officials, even when approached by reputable international organizations,
have refused all comment concerning the matter. The 9th Division has been criticized
for years by human rights groups for its ham-handed actions against both ethnic
minority resistance forces as well as civilian asylum seekers from Burma. It
is also interesting to note, that the Thai 9th Infantry Division has recently
been accused of the extrajudicial murder of VBSW (Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors)
leader Kyaw Nyi or Johnny. The alleged arrest and disappearance
of Kyaw Nyi, who conducted military operations with the Gods Army, follows
a pattern similar to that of the arrest and disappearance of the 55.
The following report provides ample information to initiate an investigation. The family members of the 55 deserve answers to their pleadings of the whereabouts of their loved ones. The Thai 9th Infantry Division, if involved in any malfeasance in this matter, must be held accountable.
Results of relevant interviews
1. What date did the group
cross into Thailand?
The group crossed into Thailand on February 2, 2000.
2. Where did the group flee from?
3. What was the groups composition and number?
Several hundred people of the Karen ethnic minority, including both villagers and Gods Army soldiers.
4. Why did they cross into Thailand?
The Gods Army base at Kamerplaw was shelled with heavy artillery by the Thai 9th Infantry Division from January 17 -19, 2000. On the 20th of January, the group (discussed in this report) fled to Macharry village. The Burmese Army attacked Macharry village on January 30, 2000 and killed 2 members of the group. The group then fled in the direction of the Thai-Burma border. After 2 days walk, they arrived at the border at Kaway Thote Khee (Ratchaburi Province, Thailand). They crossed through Kaway Thote Khee into Thailand. Soldiers of the Thai 9th Infantry Division, who were waiting for the groups arrival, escorted the group to Kaway Thote military post. At Kaway Thote, Thai soldiers separated men, women, elderly, and children into different groups.
5. Were the Gods Army soldiers armed when they entered Thailand?
No, they were not armed. They surrendered peacefully to the Thai 9th Infantry Division.
6. Who exactly are the 55?
They were 55 men who were separated from the group and placed under arrest by the Thai 9th Infantry Division.
7. Were there non-combatants among the 55?
Yes, 36 of them were villagers and the remaining 19 were Gods Army soldiers.
8. Please describe step by step the arrest of the 55?
On February 4, 2000, 125 men were separated from the group. The remaining women, children, and elderly were then sent to Baw Wee temporary camp. The 125 men were kept at Kaway Thote military post from the 4th February to the 18th February. On the 19th of February, the 125 men were commanded to stand in formation and to remove their clothes. Thai soldiers then inspected the bodies and clothing of the 125 men. The men were then allowed to clothe themselves, but all of their personal articles (including Bibles) were confiscated. Later that day, 55 men from the group of 125 were singled out and placed under arrest. The other 70 men were sent by truck to Baw Wee temporary camp, while the 55 remained at Kaway Thote military post. The 70 men arrived near Naw Ka Mue at 8 p.m., and they were allowed to meet their families on the morning of the 20th February. Later, they heard that the 55 were divided into three groups and sent to separate military posts.
9. Have any of the 55 ever been seen or heard of since their arrest on February 19, 2000?
We have not recieved any reports of any sightings of them, their location, or any information that they are alive since their arrest on February 19, 2000.
10. What has been the Thai governments reaction to the requests of family members of the 55 (most of whom are in Dong Yang and Tham Hin refugee camps) for the whereabouts of the their loved ones?
So far, the Thai authorities have taken no action in this matter.
Name; Age; Name of Wife (or single); # Family Members; Family Members Location: TH - Tham Hin RC, DY - Dong Yang RC; Soldier - S, Villager - V
1. Saw Pa Eh, 19, Single, 7, NA,V
2. Saw Wah Kolo, 25, Naw Say Mue, 4, DY, V
3. Tay Tay Wai, 19, Single, 6, TH, S
4. Saw Eh, 18, Single, NA, NA, V
5. Saw Hsar Gaw, 19, Single, 9, DY, V
6. Saw Jawahto, 22, Single, 8, DY, V
7. Saw Ta Oue, 23, Naw Paw Gay, 3, DY, V
8. Saw Paytrue, 20, Single, 5, DY, V
9. Than Htwe, 20, Single, 4, DY, V
10. Saw Kho Pa, 20, Single, 5, DY, V
11. Saw Tha Phwe, 20, Single, NA, NA, S
12. Saw Tee Tot, 21, Single, 9, DY, V
13. Saw Hla Pay, 48, Naw Pee, 9, DY, S
14. Saw Baw Hkay, 20, Single, NA, NA, V
15. Saw Kay Sue, 25, Naw Hla Ku Htoo, 3, DY, V
16. Saw Lay Lay Phoe, 22, Single, 8, DY, V
17. Saw Say Hel, 45, Naw Shan Day, 8, DY, V
18. Saw Mawda, 34, Naw Pay Sei, 4, DY, V
19. Saw Ta Saw, 30, Naw Nyak K, 3, DY, V
20. Chatee Phoe, 19, Naw Sate Sate, 2, DY, S
21. Aung Nai Soe, 18, NA, NA, NA, V
22. Saw Det, 32, Naw Day Say Tee, 5, TH, S
23. Saw Kay, 28, Naw La Lei, 5, TH, S
24. Saw Kwa Nut, 30, Naw O Bwet, 4, DY, S
25. Saw Say Nai, 35, Naw Deebora, 4, TH, S
26. Saw Del Thaw, 30, Naw Mee, 3, DY, S
27. Saw Yaw Yaw, 29, Naw Mue, 3, TH, S
28. Saw Kong Kyi, 40, Naw Saw Wah, 3, DY, S
29. Saw Doe Kaoae, 23, Naw Khay Htaw, 4, DY, S
30. Saw Thet Shwe, 35, Naw Eh Khue, 4, DY, S
31. Saw Kwel Htoo, 30, Naw Hsar Htoo, 4, DY, S
32. Saw Too Too, 24, Naw Monday, 3, DY, S
33. Saw Nat Nyal, 40, Naw Htoe Char, 7, DY, S
34. Saw Pay Gaw, 23, Single, 5, DY, S
35. Saw Htee Mue, 23, Naw Hla Hla, 3, TH, S
36. Thay La Htoo, 17, Single, 6, DY, V
37. Saw Nin Nwe, 17, Single, NA, NA, V
38. Saw Kyet Mong, 22, Naw Bee Naw, 5, DY, V
39. Saw Eh Kolo, 15, Single, Na, NA, S
40. Saw Phoe Kay, 17, Single, NA, NA, V
41. Nyoe Hel, 25, Naw Khel, 4, DY, V
42. Paw Shwar, 18, Naw Lar You, 3, DY, V
43. Saw Hsar Mue, 21, Naw Phel Htoo, 2, TH, V
44. Saw Kaseik, 19, Single, 7, DY, V
45. Chat Maung, 25, Na, NA, NA, V
46. Win Naing, 23, Naw Hel Sar, 4, DY, V
47. Phoe Kyar, 24, Single, 8, DY, V
48. Par Htote, 16, Single, 5, Ana Htar, V
49. Htaw Htaw, 20, Naw Htoo Mue, 5, DY, V
50. Htoo Eh, 18, Single, NA, NA, V
51. Saw Koe Lay, 45, Naw Pyaw Way, 6, DY, V
52. Saw Pay Kay Lay, 26, Naw Dah, 3, DY, V
53. Hsar Bree, 25, Naw Phaw Klue, 3, DY, V
54. Bay Blaw Wah, 20, Single, NA, NA, V
55. Boo Nar, 15, Single, 5, Ana Htar, V
Total Gods Army soldiers - 19
Total Villagers - 36
Overall Total - 55
The known number of family members of the 55, who may have lost their loved ones, and who three years later are still waiting for news, is 220 people. This means the real number of victims of the disappearance is actually 275.