HUMANITARIAN RELIEF MISSION
NORTHERN KAREN STATE
January 2 - 31, 2004
February 10 Update:
Burma Army attacks in Northern Karen and Southern Karenni State
The Burma Army continues its attacks against the Karen and Karenni IDPs who have fled into Northern Karen State - Toungoo and Muthraw (Papun) Districts. There are now over 5,000 new Karen and Karenni IDPs as a result of these attacks. Eight new Burma Army Battalions have reinforced the existing forces in Southern Toungoo District, Karen State and are conducting clearing operations against Karen and Karenni IDPs hiding in this part of Karen State. These attacks are occurring near the two major SPDC road projects in Toungoo District (Toungoo - Mawchi road and Toungoo - Bus Sa Kee road). The Burma Army attacks also continue in Karenni State, where 10 Battalions of Division 55 are clearing all of Southern Karenni State. The Burma Army has made this part of Karenni State a free-fire zone and is attempting to force all villagers into relocation sites. The Burma Army attacks against the Karen in Northern Muthraw District have stopped since 23 January but the situation of the IDPs is very bad as the three attacking Burma Army Battalions in this area have not retreated. These units control key terrain which blocks the return of IDPs to their villages in some areas.
Of the over 5,000 new IDPs from the ongoing offensive, over 2,200 Karen and Karenni IDPs are in hiding in Toungoo District Karen State, 3,500 Karen and Karenni IDPs are in Muthraw District Karen State, and an unknown number of Karenni IDPs have fled north of the Toungoo - Mawchi road. Along with food and medical care, one of the greatest unmet needs of these IDPs is security. Some villagers have tried to defend their families during attacks but they end up having to run as well. The greatest appeal we have heard is for safety and the ability to return home and continue their lives. "I can't go back to farm, we know if we go back the Burma Army will torture or shoot or use us to porter, now I am afraid we are running out of food and if we go on much longer we will die," were the words of one villager, now in hiding. Three Karenni villagers, who were tortured and then let go by the Burma Army, were told as they were forced to leave their homes, "We will cut your ears off because you did not listen and you will dig your own graves."
Karen House and Rice Barn Burned by Burma Army Attacks
Karenni IDPs being treated by Karenni medics
"Defeat may serve
as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out. When the great oak
is straining in the wind, the boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk sends
down a deeper root on the windward side. Only the soul that knows the mighty
grief can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come to stretch our spaces in the
heart for joy."
- Edwin Markham
Thank you for all your prayers and support that enable relief teams to give help, hope and love to people like the IDPs of Northern Karen State. We would also like to thank again all who have helped out and continue to work in this crisis and to thank the many NGOs such as KHRG who are gathering crucial information as well as NGOs such as KORD and CIDKP and those who support them, CFI, CSW, CSI and others who provide vital medical and food support. It will take much more humanitarian assistance than what any group here can do alone to address the needs of the people.
This report covers the relief mission of three FBR relief teams who worked together during the Burma Army Offensive against Karen and Karenni villagers in Northern Karen State, 2 - 31 January 2004. This mission followed the training of 10 Karen and 1 Karenni FBR teams and does not cover the activities of the other teams who were sent to each of the seven districts of the Karen State. This report also does not cover the detailed activities of the FBR medical, developmental and "Good Life" teams that also were serving in Muthraw district at this time. Those reports will be published separately.
There has been no serious fighting since 23 January in this part of Northern Karen State but the situation of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is very bad and the Burma Army controls key terrain and does not allow IDPs to return to their villages in some areas. One of the greatest unmet needs that no NGO (including FBR) can provide is security for these people. The KNLA and Karenni Army can do little more than slow the attacks of the Burma Army and give villagers warning of attacks. Some villagers have tried to defend their families during attacks but they end up having to run as well. The greatest appeal we have heard is for safety and the ability to return home and continue their lives.
"I can't go back to farm, we know if we go back the Burma Army will torture or shoot or use us to porter, now I am afraid we are running out of food and if we go on much longer we will die," were the words of one villager, now in hiding.
By its attacks in this area, the Burma Army seems to be taking advantage of the ceasefire talks to gain control of the North Eastern Karen State and to launch an all out attack on the Karenni people in Karenni State. Three Karenni villagers, who were tortured and then let go by the Burma Army, were told as they were forced to leave their homes, "We will cut your ears off because you did not listen and you will dig your own graves."
Northern Karen State:
There has been no serious fighting since 23 January but the Burma Army continues its advance inside Northern Karen State, holding key terrain and prohibiting the movement of villagers. The villagers (mostly now IDPs in hiding) cannot get to their fields and if the Burma Army activity continues they will not be able to plant the next crop. The total Karen IDP population in this area is now between 2,000 and 2,500 - the numbers change as some villagers are able to return to their villages if the Burma Army is not in their area, while others who had not earlier had to flee are forced to flee now with the new Burma Army movement and establishment of positions.
Three Battalions (LIB 512, LIB 18, IB 3) of Tactical Command 553 (#3 TOC of Division 55) have been re-supplied and have now moved back to the positions they held in Northern Karen State last week. Two battalions are located on a ridge above Kolay village, Muthraw District Karen State, and one battalion is located near Thweeder village. The TOC forward HQ is co-located with this battalion while the main HQ and support base is located at Hill 2969.
This is where the Burma Army has established a new base in Northern Muthraw District, Karen State near the Karenni border vicinity Plo Yuway Mu Der village, Hill # 2969. Tactical Command 553 (#3), 55th Division with 3 Battalions under its control has been established here. The battalions are LIB 18, LIB512 and IB 3. It is not known if this is a temporary base for the current offensive in Northern Karen State or if it is to be a permanent base. These Burma Army units continue to patrol in this area.
The Burma Army continues to block all travel for Karen villagers who wish to access the Salween market town of Ta Kwa Hta. Ta Kwa Hta is inside the Karen State but is located on the border of the Karen and Karenni States. The Burma Army has now placed 4 companies in new positions on the East - West road (Kaukkyi in the east to Saw Hta on the Salween river to the west) that divides Muthraw District, Karen State. Patrols have increased, and the Burma Army has mined the road and posted the 4 additional positions to guard crossing routes. They shoot on sight anyone who attempts to cross the road. It is very difficult for villagers to travel and now that the Burma Army has cut off the town of Ta Kwa Hta, some villagers are trapped inside southern Muthraw District.
On 26 January a wedding party with bride and groom attempting to cross the road to be married in the family village north of this road had to turn back. It is now extremely difficult to get relief supplies across this road to help the Karen and Karenni IDPs.
Burma Army Offensive in Karenni State:
The Burma Army continues its attacks on IDPs in the Southern Karenni State. It is now difficult to locate many of the Karenni IDPs due to Burma Army patrols. Starting from Dec 26 2003, the Burma Army began its forced relocation program in this area and has now begun to lay land mines around villages to prevent the villagers from returning. All villagers still in the area have been declared enemies and will now be shot on site. The area of Karenni State south of the Mawchi -Toungoo road and east and north from the Karen Border to the Salween River is now a free fire zone. An unknown number of Karenni villagers have already been captured and forced to relocation sites near Mawchi. These people have no access to their farms or livelihood and no access to medicine at this time. North of the Mawchi road, the situation is reported to be as bad as the south but there is so far no reliable information available as the Burma Army has a large concentration of strength there and it is very difficult for relief teams to penetrate. An unknown number of Karenni IDPs have fled into Toungoo District, Burma but their exact location and number is not yet confirmed. Of the estimated 1,000 Karenni IDPs who have fled into Muthraw District, Karen State, 831 are accounted for. These people were from the following villages in Karenni State:
Phahoe village - 188 persons
Kawaw Jo village - 45 persons
Behkee village - 27 persons
Yu Hae daw Ko village - 175 persons
Ka Ya Kee village - 168 persons
Kaw Ka Daw Ko village - 65 persons
Nu Thu Kee village - 163 persons
These 831 Karenni IDPS are in Northern Muthraw District, Karen State. They are still in hiding. The Burma Army patrols and fires on any civilians it sees in this area.
Security - The situation is very dangerous for these people and in the face of Burma Army patrols, they have to move frequently. The Burma Army has mined the area and has three battalions on patrol who shoot at any villagers they see. The IDPs cannot build fires at night in some places due to the nearness of the Burma Army and since nighttime temperatures are often at or near freezing in their hiding places, this is a severe hardship.
Food - Within two weeks these IDPs will all be out of food unless they receive assistance. These IDPs cannot return now to their homes and fields in Karenni state and are relying on the rice they carried as they fled. The rice they harvested and collected in their barns is now under the control of the Burma Army. They were also forced to abandon their livestock and any property they could not carry.
Medical -The only medicine available is from mobile relief teams and this has been exhausted. The most common diseases among this population are malaria, urinary tract infections, acute repertory infections and common cold. One woman died two hours after giving birth in her hiding place. No medic could arrive in time and she hemorrhaged to death.
Education - the children's studies have been stopped by the attacks of the Burma Army and they now have no access education.
On 26 December 2003, the Burma Army ordered all Karenni villagers north and south of the Mawchi road to relocate to Mahntahlayn near Pasaung (on the west bank of the Salween river), or be shot on site. On 29 December the Burma Army began to force these villagers out of their villages. The largest concentrations of IDPs who have fled these attacks are in the northern Muthraw District, where 995 Karenni IDPS and 678 Karen IDPs are in hiding together. Rice is running out and medicine has run out at this time. The Karenni have reported that the Burma Army is building a new road from Mawchi south east to Htee Lay Kee in #1 township of #2 district to serve the new Wolfram mine there. The Burma Army has forced the villagers of #2 and # 3 townships of District 2 Karenni to relocate along the Mawchi - Toungoo road and to porter for the Burma Army as well as to build a new army camp 1 mile west of Mawchi at Kaw Ku. This started on December 10, 2003. Also starting on this same date, 80 Karenni women and 40 Karenni men have been forced to carry supplies for the Burma Army from Mawchi to the Karen - Karenni border. The Karenni also report that the Burma Army has brought 1,000 new soldiers up from the Kaukkyi area (Naunglybin District, Karen state), to reinforce these operations. The Karenni say the Burma Army is taking advantage of the Karen unofficial ceasefire to concentrate their forces against the Karenni.
"I am sorry you have to eat on the jungle floor like this, we wish we could have you eat with us in our homes, but now we have nothing, we are all here uncertain of our future, eating on the dirt," said a Karenni village headman to our relief team.
Relief teams continue to try to help these people and we thank all of you who care, for your prayers and for your help in so many ways, God bless you, FBR.
RELIEF MISSION 2 - 31 JANUARY 2004
The following are excerpts of the relief teams daily reports, including interviews conducted, special case medical treatments, and documentation of Burma Army war crimes.
Medical Report: 3991 IDPs treated for medical problems and 124 dental patients treated. The most common problems: Malaria, Anemia, Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), Abdominal Pain (Gastritis), Ortitis Media (ear infections), Worms, Urinary Track Infection (URI), Common Cold, Trauma, Post Abortion Care, Prenatal Care, Arthritis, Diarrhea, Tooth Decay.
Special case: Male Patient with a skin mass just above and to the side of the right eye. Head medic, nurse, and assistant medic from FBR team were able to perform surgery to remove the mass after determining that it was an infected abscess. The infection was removed and cleaned and the wound stitched up. Painkillers and antibiotics were given.
Special Case: 11-Year-old boy by the name of Xxxx. Ha had eye infections that have led to cataracts on both eyes. However, he can still see through one eye and may be able to seek treatment in Thailand.
Arrived at IDP hide site in Kaw Hta Day area. Over 678 Karen IDPs and 353 Karenni IDPs are now in this immediate area. Most of them have been here for two days after fleeing their villages between December 28-30, 2003.
Karen Villages affected with villagers now in this site and the surrounding area:
Kah Lay Loe: 229 villagers now IDPs
Lay Wah: 125 villagers now IDPs
Say Ba Htee: 100 villagers now IDPs
Mar Mee: 224 villagers now IDPs
Karenni Villages affected and now in this site and the surrounding area:
Ye Daw Kho: 167 villagers now IDPs
Kaye Kee: 186 villagers now IDPs
Established central treatment area, set up mobile medical and dental clinic, and set up distribution area for Good Life Club kits, bibles, hymnals and clothing.
Special Case: Two men were hit by pieces of a bullet casing from an accidental weapon discharge. One man was grazed above the right eye and one man was grazed across the abdomen. Both men were treated and recovered with no difficulties.
The Karenni FBR team who had been in the area since early January gave their report on the situation in Karenni State:
On 26 December 2003, the 55th Division of the Burma Army at Mawchi, Karenni State ordered the headmen of 50 villages in 3 townships that all Karenni villagers must move to the relocation site at Mahntahlay on the Mawchi-Pasuang road, near the west bank of the Salween. The order stated that, "If any fail to come in ten days, they will be considered rebels and will be shot on sight." The village headmen were told that within the following 3 months all Karenni villagers would be cleared out of District 2, Southern Karenni State and all persons must be in the relocation site. The Burma Army plans to sweep the area, kill any person who remains and lay land mines to stop anyone from returning. Before the 10 days were up, 100 troops of the 55th Division, Burma Army arrived at Pha Ho village to the east of Nat Taung mountain, on 29 December and chased the villagers out of their village. The Burma Army troops looted the village and stole the livestock. They also looted the village of Kae Lay Moo and chased the villagers out. Troops from the Burma Army fired on villagers with machineguns and mortar as they fled their villages but so far there have been no reported deaths. The Karenni reported that the Burma Army is opening a Wolfram mine near the Karenni-Karen border and plan to build a road from this mine to Mawchi. The Burma Army is clearing this area of all Karenni villagers and has laid mines to keep the people out. On 13 December a Karenni man, Saw Day Khwa was killed and his daughter age 14 badly wounded, when they stepped on a Burma Army mine. They were from Lo Ka Lo village. The Burma Army unit that placed this mine was LIB 568 commanded by commander Thin Shwee Oo.
Today the big event was the birth of a little boy at 5:45am. The mother, Xxxxx , is 21 years old and this is her third child. Her husband's name is Xxxxx and he is a church elder in their village of Mar Mee. They had arrived in this hide site on January 4th after fleeing their village on December 30th.They had managed to put up a small lean-to shelter made of leaves and had tucked their family of 4, now 5, under the leaves with only a thin mat between them and the cold ground. The FBR team's head nurse delivered the baby and wrapped it in a blanket that was donated as a part of the Good Life Club mother and infant gift. Temperatures in this ravine have been in the low 40s (fahrenheit) each night, and the IDPs who have fled with only what they can carry are lacking in warm clothing and blankets. They are also short of food as their rice supplies are almost all gone after 8 days on the run.
The FBR teams received the following report:
Northern Muthraw (Papun) District, Karen State. The Burma Army, LIB 568 attacked the village of Ka Lae Lo on 30 December 2003, chased the villagers out, looted their homes, burned two rice barns and destroyed two more. Two villagers were tortured. The attacking battalion (LIB568) was divided into two columns, #1 commanded by Thaing Shwey, #2 commanded by Aung Mya Htoo. This unit, LIB 568, Burma Army, was assisted by Saw Kyu Kyu and Saw Paw Lu and 10-15 men of the break away Karenni factions - Kayin Solidarity Organization (KSO) and Karenni National Peoples Liberation Front (KNPLF). After attacking Ka Lae Lo, LIB 568 chased the villagers of Lay Wah, Thay Ba Htee and Mar Mee into the jungle. These people along with the villagers of Ka Lae Lo number 557 persons and have fled south deeper into Muthraw District, Karen State, within a days walk of Naw Yo Hta village. One woman gave birth as the people fled. All these IDPs are living in hiding high in the mountains with only the food they escaped with. More Karen IDPs are expected to arrive in this area this week.
FBR teams also interviewed the headmen from the Karenni villages of Yu Hae Daw Kho and Kaye Kee as well as the head men of the Karen villages of Lay Wah, Mar Mee, Say Bah Htee and Kah Lae Lo
Karenni Headmen Interviews:
Yu Hae Daw Kho: Village headman, Xxxxx. Two village representatives, Xxxxx and Xxxx (age 25) were able to give the interview. There are 167 villagers who fled their village in the Southern Karenni State on December 28th, 2003. The headman, Xxxxx and Xxxx attended the meeting in Maw Chi on December 26th, 2003. They, along with 50 other village headmen from Karenni District # 2 were ordered to attend this meeting by the 55th division of the Burma Army. Xxxxx said that at the meeting they were told by the Burma Army, that "If we did not move from our villages we would be shot and that the Burma Army would lay land mines in our areas. The Burma Army said that 'We are the government, we have enough food and soldiers to clear all the area. We will kill all livestock and move you to Mahntahlay.'" "And the Tha Nu (KSO) said that we must cooperate with the Burma Army or face punishment. Also, the KNSO said we should obey the Burma Army. I decided to leave because I was afraid. The Burma Army burned my house and robbed me in the past. The whole village decided to run away. We do not trust the KNSO. When the Burma Army came near our village on Dec 28, 2003, all the men ran away to avoid capture. The Burma Army came into the village and threatened the women with beatings and beheadings. The Burma Army then came to Kaw Ku Daw Ko. We felt unsafe as we hid so close to the Burma Army, so we fled to the Karen State" The headman later said: "I am sorry that you have to eat on the jungle floor like this. We wish we could have you eat with us in our homes. But now we have nothing. We are all here, uncertain of our future, eating on the dirt."
Kaye Kee Village
Headman is Xxxxx
They ran away from the village because the Burma Army came to the village. The Burma Army sent him a letter ordering all the villagers to move to a relocation site called Mahntahlay near Pasaung. The order came from the 55th Division of the Burma Army based in Maw Chi. The order said that the villagers would have to move by December 31st but the troops came before that date. The order said that all villagers must be in Mahntahlay by December 31st. If they are not gone from the village by that date they will be categorized as followers of General Bee Htoo of the Karenni Army and they will be shot. The villagers left and spent two nights in the jungle but were then advised to move to the Karen State to Ko Lae Loh, but due to the movements of the Burma Army in this area the villagers had to travel for 3 days before they were able to enter into the Kay Hta Day IDP site. The headman confirmed that the Burma Army was working on a mining project in District # 2 of the Karenni State and planned to clear the area of villagers and force them to cooperate. In # 1 township of # 2 District in Southern Karenni State, the Burma Army want to mine for Wolfram and Silver. This is the future plan for this area so they are clearing this area of all villagers. Once they have cleared this area they will set up their bases so that no villagers will be able to return. He also confirmed that the Burma Army was building a road to the mining area. He also knows four other village headmen who received the same letter (order) from the 55th Division to attend the meeting in Maw Chi on Dec 26th. He is concerned that the Burma Army will burn down the villages. He is now worried about their food shortage as they have been living on only what they could carry when they fled. He is also concerned about their future as they need to start preparing their rice paddies soon for the next crop and they cannot go back. He said that if they were to obey the Burma Army order to relocate they would all be subject to many hardships such as beatings, forced labor or worse.
Karen Headmen Interviews:
Kah Lae Loe Village
229 Villagers had to flee on December 30, 2003
Most of the villagers fled before the Burma Army arrived but four villagers were in the village when the Burma Army entered on Dec 30th. One villager, a 30-year-old man named Xxxxx (a farmer with 7 children), was taken while he was hunting in the jungle some distance from the village. The Burma Army troops numbering between 70 and 100 forced him to go with them, bound his hands, interrogated him demanding him to tell them the location of any KNU or Karenni troops. He told them that he did not know anything about this. They forced him to go with them and help them find the way to the village and made him walk in front of their column. Before they entered the village they tied him up by his hands and feet. They then entered the village. One man and two women were arrested and held in the village while the Burma Army troops looted the villagers belongings, taking money (approximately 400,000 Kyat or Baht 20,000) and also gold and silver jewelry valued at another 200,000 Kyat. They also took cooking pots, utensils, and knives, which are very important for the villagers' survival. They also ate, took and destroyed livestock (pigs, goats, buffalo, ducks) and rice stores. They also burned two rice barns full of the villagers' stored rice. The man who had been bound was able to escape later that night while the Burma Army troops who were guarding him were sleeping. He was able to untie his hands and then his feet. He also confirmed having seen the Burma Army troops with the villagers' knives and other possessions.
Say Ba Htee
100 Villagers now IDPs
All of the villagers are in this hide site now. They fled the village on December 30, 2003 because they were afraid of the Burma Army troops operating in the area. He was almost caught by a Burma Army patrol as he was leaving the village and heading toward his field house. He was able to flee by running right through them and catching them off guard so that if they fired they would risk shooting one another. He said that this also happened to several other villagers. He said that his villagers had been in this hide site for the past two days waiting for treatment and hoping for help to return to the village.
224 Villagers now living as IDPs
Most are at this hide site but some went to other areas. They ran away from their village because they were concerned about the presence of the Burma Army in the area. On October 10, 2003, the Burma Army came into the village and burned down four houses. They also ate 5 goats and killed 2 goats, which they did not eat. They also stole 55 chickens. During this time the villagers fled and were able to return after two months. They returned but could only stay for 2 days before they had to flee again. They fled on December 30th, 2003 and made their way to this hide site. They have been here for two days. They know that if they had stayed in their village the Burma Army would have tortured them and forced them to porter. There have been incidents in the past when the Burma Army entered their village and shot some villagers (3 villagers in 2001)
125 Villagers now living as IDPs
The headman reported that once the villagers heard that the Burma Army was in the area they packed up what they could carry and fled into the jungle. They were told to come to this hide site and have been here for two days. They fled their village on December 29th, 2003 and arrived at this hide-site on January 5th 2004. They left everything behind and do not know what has happened to their village. They are not sure what to do or how long their rice will last. It is running out and they want to return to their village. They had to leave three old people behind in the village that could not walk and the headman is concerned about them.
Special Case: At 11:45am (Burma Time), a 17 year-old-boy, named Xxxxx, stepped on a land mine (Burma Army mine MM2 or the same type Chinese manufacture), outside of Ka Lae Lo village and lost his leg from the knee down. A FBR team who was nearby interviewing the villagers whose rice barns were burned, along with another KNU medic responded and applied first aid. An emergency amputation was conducted and the boy was stabilized, carried for 3 hours to the IDP hide site where he was treated further by FBR head nurse and medics and then carried for 4 days to a mobile clinic where his leg had to be amputated above the knee. He is alive and we are praying for a steady recovery.
FBR team continues to monitor the activity of the Burma Army column near the village and check for other landmines that may have been placed around the village. Many IDPs from Ka Lae Lo including the headman who have been hiding since December 30th returned with the FBR team in order to enter their homes and prepare and gather more rice and food as well as feed their animals. During a visit to the location of the land mine injury that took place the day before, the FBR team spotted part of the Burma Army column that is operating in the area. They were moving to the southwest, visible through binoculars, and approximately 30-minute walk away from Ka Lae Lo Village. This close presence set a fear into the villagers, who quickly gathered their food and ran back into the jungle to hide. The FBR team remained near Ka Lae Lo village in order to keep an eye on the Burma Army activities. A villager reported that the Burma Army had burned another rice barn and the FBR team was able to locate this rice barn and confirm that it had been burned down near Yu Hae Daw Kho.
1. Xxxxx (now 10 years old). The Burma Army shot her in October 2002. FBR team interviewed her in January 2003. FBR team made an interview with her today and confirmed that the piece of shrapnel or bullet is inside her abdomen and gives her pain in the rainy season. She will be taken to a hospital to get x-rayed and see what the doctors recommend.
(Dictator Watch note and update: This individual is Naw Moo Day Wah, described in our March 2003 Relief Mission and February 2003 Reasons to be a Refugee photo essays. After examination in Thailand it was determined that the bullet is lodged in her liver near her spine. To remove it could kill her. Therefore, it will be left inside with the hope that as she grows larger it might move away from the spine such that someday it can be safely extracted.)
2.Xxxxx (now 17 years old). She was shot by Burma Army troops in October 2002. FBR team interviewed her in January 2003. FBR team interviewed her today and confirmed that her wound still gives her pain: Possibly a pinched nerve. She will also go for further evaluation in a hospital.
3.Xxxxx: 8-year-old boy with a severe bone infection on the lower right leg.
4.Xxxxx: 10-year-old girl who will receive follow up treatment for surgery done on her club foot in June 2003. She is now in a cast.
New attacks and IDPs as of 15 Jan 2004: On 14 Jan at 9am, 2 villagers with 3 buffaloes met SPDC troops at Naw Ko near Thwee Der village-northern Muthraw District, Karen S tate, one day walk south of Karenni border. The Burma Army troops captured one villager- Xxxxx, male, age 19 and the three buffalos. Xxxxx, age 22 escaped and reported this information today. The Burma Army troops opened fire at him and he ran through the bullets and managed to escape. He was hit in the finger and his pack was hit by bullets, causing it to fall to the ground. He lost all his money (3,000 Baht and 50,000 Kyat) but no other bullets struck him. Xxxxx said he did not know what happened to his friend after he fled. One column of SPDC troops are now deep inside northern Karen State (Muthraw District- Naw Yo Hta village tract) and have chased the following villages from their homes:
Kae Ko Mu Der village - 71 families, 440 people
Htoo Ko Lae village - 25 families, 180 people
Bler Lu village - 17 families, 120 people
Ka Lae Lo village - 30 families, 229 people
Thay PaHtee/Marmee villages - 35 families, 230 people
Lay Wa village - 21 families, 125 people
Thoo Kler village - 33 families, 237 people
Baw Kee village - 24 families, 166 people
Saw Mee Plaw village tract - 4 families, 23 people.
There are a total of 1750 new Karen IDPs in this area.
All of these people are hiding in the jungle with no shelter and little food. The temperatures in this area now range from 45 degrees Fahrenheit at 2,500' to 35 degrees Fahrenheit at 4,000'. Most of the IDPs are hiding at elevations between 3,500 - 4,200'. The Burma Army also is attacking villagers in Kaw Lu Der village tract, IDP numbers unknown at this time.
A group of 20 civilians returning from buying goods in Tha Kaw Hta were attacked by troops from the Burma Army near Kya La Der, northern Karen State. Only six have escaped and we do not know the fate of the other 14 civilians, who are still missing.
LIB 553, LIB 509, IB3, and IB18 are moving along the Karenni - Karen State border and clearing villages on both sides of the border. They have are now attacking villagers 15 kilometers inside the Karen State. As a result over 2,500 Karen villagers have fled into the jungle. (Over 1,000 Karenni IDPs are already in hiding in this area). From the south (Papun, Karen State), the following Burma Army units are moving north to link up with the above units who are attacking south inside Karen State: LIB 743, LIB 573, LIB 512, LIB 792, and LIB 616. If these units continue to move this will mean the beginning of a major offensive in the Northern Karen State.
Update: A civilian farmer taking his buffaloes to market was beaten to death by the Burma Army 15 Jan 2004. This was the young man, Klo Baw Hae.Baw Hae, age 19, mentioned in an earlier report as missing after arrest by the Burma Army. Villagers found his body today. Baw Hae was found dead and beaten all over his body. These were the same troops who attempted to shoot his friend who escaped (Xxxxx, age 22). Update on group of 20 civilians captured on 15 Jan. According to one of the six people who escaped, the group was comprised of many women, and as he fled he heard their cries and the sounds of people screaming.
The Karen village of Nu Thoo Kee was attacked by the Burma Army on 13 January at 3.30pm. The Burma Army burned down 4 homes, the village church and a rice barn.
Three Battalions of the Burma Army LIB 512, LIB 18 and IB 3 are continuing their attacks against Karen villagers in Northern Karen State. There have also been clashes between the Burma Army and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA-KNU). On 17 Jan at 12000hrs LIB 512 attacked villagers near Kolay village, chasing them into the jungle. A group of KNLA soldiers and one village militia member returned fire but were driven from a hill to near the village by the attacking Burma Army battalion. The Burma Army attacked with a concentration of heavy fire from 2.5-inch mortars, RPG-7s, M-79 grenade launchers and light (5.56), machineguns. The villagers, militia member and KNLA were able to escape with no casualties. The shooting lasted for 30 minutes. The Burma Army battalion then set a rice barn and house near the village on fire...it is still burning as of this report. This is approximately 300 meters from Kolay village, Northern Muthraw District, Karen State. Over 500 villagers from Kolay and two other nearby villages are now in hiding.
On 18 Jan 2004, at 7 am, the Burma Army LIB 512 attacked villagers 2 kilometers north of Kolay with mortar, RPG and machinegun guns. A group of 9 KNLA soldiers returned fire but were driven out of the area after one hour. One Karen soldier was severely wounded and is now being moved for treatment. No villagers wounded, Burma Army casualties unknown.
Special Case: Received word that the 17-year-old boy who stepped on the land mine on January 8, 2003 was transported to another clinic for further surgery as he is battling infection. His leg has been amputated above the knee.
Interview with the Karenni FBR Team:
On January 12, 2004, the Karenni FBR team had heard about a woman, Naw Kyi Nya, who had just given birth and had uncontrolled hemorrhaging. The woman and her family were from Kaye Kee village in the Karenni State but had fled and were living as IDPs in the Chi Po area of Karen State. When the team arrived at Chi Po they were able to help the woman's husband save the child but the woman had already died two hours after the birth. The father was so distraught that he had wanted to let the baby die as well. The team encouraged him and gave him supplies for the baby and offered to help in any way they could. The man was then able to care for the baby along with his three other children.
The Karenni FBR team stayed in this IDP area from January 12 - 15, 2004. During this time they treated many IDPs and on January 16th they helped move 165 IDPs from Kaye Kee village out of the area because the Burma Army was in the area and it became unsafe. The IDPs were mostly women and children. Several of the women were pregnant; many others were elderly.
On January 16, 2004, the team was able to reach the IDPs who had fled Nu Thoo Hta village. The villagers told the team that on January 13, Burma Army troops numbering 100 moved toward the village and that just before entering it they captured four men:
1. Xxxxx a 66-year-old man
2. Xxxxx a 26-year-old man
3. Xxxxx an 18-year-old man
4. Pa Bo Toe a 21-year-old man
The Burma Army troops held these men outside of the village and beat them and tied them up. Pa Bo Toe was separated from the other three men and during the night the three men heard sounds of screaming and they never saw Pa Bo Toe again. The next day, part of the Burma Army column entered the village and one 26-year-old woman, Xxxx, was almost captured but escaped when one Karenni soldier tried to defend the village. When the Burma Army troops who were holding the three captives heard the fighting they let the three men go telling them that they would cut their ears off because they did not listen and leave the village, and that they would dig their own graves. The Karenni soldier fled along with all the villagers. The FBR team was able to meet and interview the three men who had been held captive. These three men confirmed that they had been captured along with Pa Bo Toe. But that Pa Boe Toe had been separated from them and that they heard screams and crying in the night and feared he was dead. They also told the team that they had been beaten and tied up and that one man had been hit twice in the ear by the barrel of a gun held by his captors. This man showed the team two deep wounds on his head and all of the men showed the marks of the rope on their wrists. They also reported that they had been robbed of money and valuables. The mother of Pa Bo Toe was distraught over his disappearance and begged for help. She said that her husband was dead and that she has 5 young children to take care of including one grandchild whose parents are dead. She said that Pa Bo Toe had been the one who took care of the fields and made sure that the family had rice to eat. She was not sure what to do and wanted to go to a refugee camp. The team also met with the villagers whose homes had been destroyed and they reported the amount lost in terms of monetary value:
1. Xxxxx: 100,000 Kyat
2. Xxxxx: 100,000 Kyat
3. Xxxxx: 222,000 Kyat
4. Xxxxx: Over 100,000 Kyat
5.The Church: Over 100,000 Kyat
January 22, 2004 Karenni FBR Team departed to link up with other FBR teams. While they were traveling they had a face-to-face encounter with part of a Burma Army column operating in the area. The Karenni FBR team had to run, after being fired upon, and was able to escape without injury.
*The team had three dangerous periods: One time they had to find their way through two Burma Army columns that were trying to locate them. Another time they were with IDPs and could not move for several days because the same Burma Army columns were all around them (one hour away on all sides). On their way out of the area they ran face-to-face into part of a Burma Army column and were able to run away and escape injury