DKBA soldiers burn down huts, detain villagers and loot property in Thailand

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Following skirmishes on January 1st 2009 between soldiers from DKBA Battalions #999 and 907 and KNLA Battalion #103 in north-eastern Dooplaya District, DKBA troops crossed the Thai-Burmese border and have since been operating in and around Thai-Karen villages in Umphang District of Thailand’s Tak province and harassing local villagers. This area also includes Noh Poe refugee camp, home to approximately 14,000 refugees from Burma, many of whom remain anxious about the ongoing military operations in the area and a potential attack on the camp.

Report Maps
Map 1: Dooplaya District
Map 2: Karen Districts
Map 3: Burma
On January 1st 2009, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) troops from Special Battalion #999 and Battalion #907, under the command of Na Kha Mway and Saw La Po, combined to attack the base of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Battalion #103, under the command of Htee Nay Shee, situated at Ta Htoo Gkyo along the Thai-Burma border inside Dooplaya District, Karen State. On the same day, the DKBA soldiers then entered Thailand near Gklaw Htaw village, Umphang District, and have since that time been operating in and around Thai-Karen villages in the area. These villages include: Gklaw Htaw, Kler Pa Doh, Htee Koh Nee, Gkoh Kee, Gka Neh Lay and Ya Wa Gklo.

On January 3rd 2009, DKBA and KNLA troops fought at a location inside Dooplaya District, near Gklaw Htaw (a nearby village on the Thai side of the border). After the fighting, DKBA soldiers withdrew at approximately 11:20 pm. As the DKBA troops were returning to their base at Tha Waw Thaw in Kawkareik township, Dooplaya District, they burnt down the farm field huts of the Thai-Karen residents of Gklaw Htaw. One local villager described the incident to KHRG:

“When they [DKBA soldiers] arrived in the Thai village of Gklaw Htaw, they detained villagers and ordered them to guide them to the location of [the camp of KNLA Battalion #103 in Dooplaya District]. They detained 11 or 12 villagers in the village… The villagers couldn’t refuse, so they had to go and show them the location of [the KNLA camp]. When they arrived mid-way [to the KNLA camp in Dooplaya District], the [KNLA soldiers] saw them and shot at them… When the villagers ran away, the [KNLA] soldiers shot at the DKBA soldiers. A few of the [DKBA] soldiers got hurt, so they had to retreat. They [the DKBA soldiers] ordered the villagers to help them carry back their patients [the wounded soldiers]. When they arrived in the village, they released the villagers. But the villagers then had to find a car to deliver them [the DKBA] to [the DKBA base at] Tha Waw Thaw. This occurred on January 3rd 2009. When they [the DKBA soldiers] went on their return trip, they burnt down the villagers’ huts that they saw. There was a lot of property in those huts that were burnt down by the DKBA.”

The specific details of the villagers and their farm huts and belongings destroyed by the DKBA on January 3rd 2009 are listed below:

#
Villagers’ names
Details of destroyed huts and other items
1
Saw O—
One wooden hut with a tin roof containing 2 hand tractors[1], 10 big tins [160 kg./352 lb.] of rice, 8 cooking pots and other materials as well as another hut used to house goats. When the soldiers burnt down the hut with the goats, all 11 goats residing within were killed.
2
Saw H—
One wooden hut containing 15 big tins [240 kg./528 lb.] of rice and 120 milk tins [approx. 23.4 kg./51.5 lb.] of radish seeds as well as other materials such as clothing, pots and blankets. The burnt hut and destroyed items were valued at approximately 100,000 Thai Baht [US $2,857.14].
3
Saw Gk—
One hut containing pots, blankets and clothing.
Following the destruction of the villagers’ farm field huts, DKBA soldiers set up a new temporary camp at a location near Gklaw Htaw, Thailand. Since setting up this camp, the soldiers have reportedly harassed local villagers and stolen their livestock, including ducks and chickens. Amongst other looted property, the soldiers stole 38 ducks and 15 chickens from Naw A— and 3 sacks of rice from Naw N—.

On January 9th 2009, DKBA soldiers encountered Saw P—, a local Thai-Karen villager, travelling to his corn fields. The soldiers called to him, provided him with 5,000 Thai Baht [US $142.85] and then ordered him to purchase eight sacks of rice for the soldiers. The soldiers told Saw P— that if he failed to return with the rice, they would burn down his corn field. However, the money was insufficient to purchase eight sacks of rice and Saw P— therefore had to use 3,000 Thai Baht [US $85.71] of his own money to cover the entire cost of the rice.

On one occasion in January, the DKBA troops operating in Umphang District fired on Thai soldiers, apparently thinking that they were KNLA troops. A local villager described it thus:

“The Thai soldiers went to them to ask them [the DKBA soldiers] to withdraw [back to Karen State]. When they [DKBA] saw the Thai soldiers, they shot at them. And immediately the Thai soldiers fired back at them. Then the Thai soldiers ordered someone to go and ask the DKBA soldiers, ‘Why did you shoot at us?’ And they [DKBA] replied, ‘We shot at you because we thought that you were [KNLA soldiers].'”

Local villagers have reported to KHRG that DKBA soldiers remain active in and around Thai-Karen villages in Umphang District of Thailand’s Tak province and continue to harass local residents. Furthermore, the information which KHRG has received regarding DKBA operations in this area supports similar reports that have recently come from other news sources. On January 19th, The Irrawaddy reported that refugees in Noh Poe camp (located in Thailand’s Umpang District, southwest of Klaw Htaw village) were nervous about ongoing attacks between KNLA and DKBA forces operating near the camp.[2] Also on January 19th, the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) reported that DKBA soldiers had conscripted Karen villagers living in north-eastern Dooplaya District – near the Thai-Burma border – in order to support ongoing attacks against KNLA positions and had crossed the border into Thailand to harass villagers residing on the Thai side.[3]

Further to these accounts, KHRG field researchers have reported that DKBA soldiers operating on the Thailand side of the border have summoned local village heads and threatened them that if KNLA soldiers attack DKBA positions, then DKBA soldiers will proceed to burn down their villages. On January 12th 2009, DKBA soldiers warned village heads and deputy village heads from the Thai-Karen villages of Gklaw Htaw, Noh Pa Htaw Wah and Noh Poe and that, “If Kaw Thoo Lei [KNLA forces] shoot at us, we’ll burn down all of your villages.”

Despite the fact that the communities living in villages on the Thai side of the border are Thai-Karen (and thus have a legitimate expectation of protection by the Thai Army), DKBA soldiers have continued to harass them. Since the start of January, these villagers have continued to carry out their livelihoods – despite the ongoing and nearby military operations – because many of them maintain corn and other crops which require constant cultivation. Nevertheless, one villager expressed concerns about ongoing security threats:

“In my opinion, I would like the Thai government to say something to them [the DKBA]. The villagers are afraid that the DKBA will plant landmines in the vicinity of the village. Since they first arrived in the village, two of the villagers’ cows have died by their [DKBA] landmines. Therefore, in the future we’re afraid that people will be injured by their landmines. In the night time we dare not speak loudly-we’re afraid that they [DKBA] will come and kill us.”

Footnotes

[1] These are long-handled self-propelled (petrol-fuelled) ploughing machines used mainly to plough irrigated rice fields; the operator walks behind the machine.

[2] “Karen Refugees Fear More Attacks,” The Irrawaddy, January 19th 2009.

[3] “Pictures of Oppression: Attacks, Displacement and Oppression in Karen and Karenni States,” Free Burma Rangers, January 19th 2009.

http://www.khrg.org/khrg2009/khrg09b1.html

Dr. Sein Win re-elected PM of government in exile

Sunday, 25 January 2009 18:12

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Dr. Sein Win has been re-elected the Prime Minister of the Burmese government in exile for another term in a routine MPU meeting.

The meeting of the ‘Members of Parliament Union’ had in attendance MPs in exile. The meeting was held in Dublin, Ireland over four days starting from 20 January. The meeting was attended by over 30 MPs in exile who elected the PM through secret ballot.

In the new seven-member cabinet, three new ministers were inducted along with existing ministers Bo Hla Tint, Dr. Tint Swe and Khun Mar Ko Ban. The three new ministers are Khun Myint Tun (Thaton constituency), Win Hlaing (Tatkon constituency) and Tun Win (Minbya constituency).

Mathematics Professor Dr. Sein Win (64) is the cousin brother of detained Nobel peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and he received his doctoral degree from Germany. His father U Ba Win is a martyr assassinated along with his younger brother Independence hero Bogyoke Aung San.

The Washington D.C. US based NCGUB was formed in 1990 with elected MPs in exile on the Thai-Burma border and Dr. Sein Win has been successively elected as Prime Minister since then.

In the Dublin MPU meeting, the ‘credential challenge’ issued, aiming to unseat the Burmese junta from the UN General Assembly as representative of the Burmese people, was rejected by MPs attending the congress. The exiled umbrella organization of the ‘National Council of Union of Burma’ (NCUB) is trying to unseat the Burmese junta from the UN as representative of the nation on the grounds of legitimacy.

The statement issued by NCUB on January 1 this year says it will form another parallel government in exile which stirred a hornet’s nest in the exiled pro-democracy forces and triggered a heated debate among them.

The Burmese junta refused to recognize the 1990 general election results and hand over power to the elected parliament and said that the newly elected MPs were only responsible for the drafting of the new constitution, not to exercise State power. Then the junta drafted its constitution with their hand-picked representatives which is not accepted by the majority of the elected MPs.
http://www.mizzima.com/news/regional/1599-dr-sein-win-re-elected-pm-of-government-in-exile.html

FBR REPORT: The Shadow of the Oppressor

Karen State, Burma
20 January, 2009
Today we went to look at a Burma Army camp that sits on a hill immediately above the Karen village of Tha Moo La* in western Karen State at the edge of the mountains and the plains. The village has 160 families with over 1,000 men, women and children. The villagers were forced to move here from other areas of Karen State as part of the Burma Army forced relocation program. The pictures attached are of these people being forced to work for the Burma Army.
Burma soldiers watched over the villagers as they were forced to carry water up and down the hill

porter-carries-water-to-camp-as-solider-watches
Porter carries water to camp as soldier watches

As we watched the camp and village below it, we noticed Burma Army soldiers come out of the camp and position themselves along the steep trail that led from the camp 100 yards down to the village. Soon villagers, both men and woman, were climbing up to work at the camp. We could see the villagers carrying water containers from a water filling point at a hut near the stream.
Burma soldiers watched over the villagers as they were forced to carry water up and down the hill.
One of the villagers told us that every day villagers must carry water for the camp and report to do any labor demanded of them. They are not paid and have no choice but to obey. The villagers use a rotation system so that those who are not doing forced labor for the soldiers can tend to their own fields. At the camp we could see the small bamboo hut where every day the villagers must supply a runner to relay out Burma Army orders to the villagers. Anyone who wants to go out of the village must obtain a pass from the soldiers in the camp
soldier-watches-as-porter-carries-water-to-camp1
Soldier watches as porter carries water to camp
soldier-guards-porters-20-jan-08
Soldier watching porters carry water

The Burma Army occupies and relocates many villages and have built their camp on the high ground above this village to control the villagers.
One young man who left this village and joined the FBR and is now a relief team leader told us this story:
“The Burma Army occupied the Tha Moo La area for first time when I was a child. We have been forced to move many times. The last time in 2006. The Burma Army occupies and relocates many villages and have built their camp on the high ground above this village to control the villagers and to protect themselves in case the KNU (Karen National Union-Karen pro-democracy resistance) came to fight for it. The Burma Army also built a pagoda on the hill on the other side of our village against our will. The Burma Army general who commissioned the Pagoda is named Gen. Thet Oo. He was advised by a monk that if he built the Pagoda there would be peace in Tha Moo La. Next to the pagoda he bulit a monument to himself with these words inscribed on the front.” (see photo of sign and pagoda below).

‘ In remembrance of General Thet Oo and his grandparents on both mother and father side, (Oo Ka Myint, Daw San San Win and Oo Thay Min Let, Daw Wa Wa So, and Oo Moe Zaw, Daw Tu Ma, and Oo May Den To, Daw The Da). These families built this pagoda in 13, 12, 2006 at Yin Oo Taung with the leading of Monk Oo Kin Mein Da. The spirits will say amen forever.’
The Burma Army has killed many of my friends. For example, Saw Pa Au La. The Burma Army suspected that he was organizing KNU activities. Nobody knows what happened to him. He was captured by Burma Army in late 2007 along with one friend and was never heard from again. The Burma Army ordered the headman to send Saw Pau La to the Burma Army camp. He went with a friend and both disappeared. He has a wife and 1 daughter age 3. His wife is a teacher in Tha Moo La.
Another friend was killed in the beginning of 2007. His name was Saw Wa Shi. One day he went to his beetle nut farm. The Burma Army came from another direction. One Burma Army soldier stepped on a landmine. The Burma Army accused him of setting the mine and they beat him to death.

“Saw Poo Bal had his face blown away and lost both eyes.”
They also make us act as human landmine sweepers. Sometimes the Burma Army makes the villagers work in front of their trucks so that they detonate any landmines placed there by the resistance. Many have died doing this such as my friend Saw Thaw Mo and others have been injured such as my frined Saw Po Oa. He lost one leg and broke the other one. And there is Saw Poo Bal who had his face blown away and lost both eyes.
Forced labor happens all the time. Every day two villagers have to go to the Burma Army camp where they are given job assignments. They have to cut bamboo, carry food, use their ox carts to carry supplies, haul water (because the KNLA ambushed them so they are afraid to get it themselves), and whatever else they want done.

In addition to all this a very big problem in my mind is that the Burma Army has brought a teacher from the city in the plains and built a school. They are teaching their way and do not allow the children to study in their Karen language anymore. The only time they are permitted to learn in Karen right now is at Sunday School which we run ourselves. The headmaster used to be a Karen Man named Saw Htoo. The Burma Army replaced him with a Burman, The salary for one month is 15,000 kyat.

Thank you for the time to talk and for your help.”
woman-returns-to-village-from-camp-1
Karen woman returns to village from the camp

“This is not right and we try to stop them.”

One of the resistance soldiers told us, “That was my village where I was born. The Burma soldiers came and they make our people suffer everyday and force us to do many things for them. This is their way and the way they always are to us. They want to control our lives, force us to serve them, take our wives and daughters and use us to work the fields for them. This is not right and we try to stop them.”
Here the soldiers treat the villagers as if they are their servants. In addition to forced labor and acting as human mine sweepers, the villagers are ordered to help buy chickens and feed and take care of them for the soldiers. The villagers were also forced to dig the bunkers for the camp and contribute thier own coconut and beetle nut trees to cover the bunkers.

We have hope because we believe God’s light of love can burn through the darkness. We see this light in the faces of the people here.
The shadow of oppression is over this village as it is over all of Burma. We stand with the people like the one who told his story and the resistance soldier who wants freedom and justice for his home. We work and pray for the day when this oppression ends. We have hope because we believe God cares and will lead all of us who care and that God’s light of love can burn through the darkness. We see this light in the faces of the people here. We thank all of you for your love, prayers and help.
God bless you,
The Free Burma Rangers
Karen State, Burma
January 20, 2009
Burma.

(*Tha Moo La means ‘hope’, it is not the real name of this village.)
water filling point for porters
karen-village-with-burma-army-camp-above
karen village with burma army camp above
http://www.freeburmarangers.org/Reports/2009/20090123.html

Burma Army Threatens and Attempts to Bribe Parents of Raped and Murdered 7-yr-old Girl in Karen State.

Report Sent Directly from Relief Team in the Field
Karen State, Burma
24 January, 2009

“Because of the money the parents must accept it, if not they will be in trouble.” -quote from local relief team
The Burma Army has threatened and is now trying to bribe the family of 7-yr-old Ma Ne Mya, who was raped and killed by a soldier from LIB 350 on 27 December, 2009. According to the latest report from a relief team in the area, the girls parents and the local village leaders petitioned the Burma Army for justice in the incident. In response, the commander of LIB 350, Capt. Thet Khaing, forced 10 local business owners to provide a total of 1,000,000 Kyat ($800) in order to pay off the girl’s parents. The team also reported that the Burma Army has threatened the parents that they must accept the money as sufficient payment for the crime or face punishment. LIB 350 has now been replaced by IB 73 in the area.
7yroldrape
Map of area where girl was raped and killed in Karen State
Background Information
On 27 December, 2008, a Burma Army soldier abducted, raped and killed 7-year-old Ma Ne Mya of Ma Oo Bin village in the area close to Kyauk Kyi Town, Nyaunglebin District. According to a report from teams in the area, upon entering the village at around 6 pm, a soldier from LIB 350, abducted the girl and proceeded to take her outside the village and begin to rape her. The soldier shot and killed her when she began to cry loudly. LIB 350 is under the command of Captain Thet Khaing.

The Following is a report of the same incident sent out on 2 January by the Karen Women’s Organization

2nd January, 2009

Urgent Statement by the Karen Women’s Organization
KWO demands accountability for SPDC rape and killing of 7-year-old girl

The Karen Women’s Organization is demanding the immediate arrest and prosecution of an SPDC soldier who raped and killed a young girl in Burma’s northern Karen State last week, as well as punishment of his commanding officer for failing to take action over the crime.

The body of the 7-year-old girl was found near her house with gunshot wounds in her chest and signs of rape in the village of Ma Oo Bin, Kyauk Kyi Township, Nyaunglebin District, in the evening of December 27, 2008. Villagers had seen a soldier from SPDC Light Infantry (LI) 350 enter the village shortly beforehand, and then heard sounds of a girl crying out and rifle shots.

The girl’s parents and village leaders went to report the case the next day to Captain Thet Khaing, the local commander of SPDC LI 350, stationed near the village, but no action has been taken yet.

The KWO is appalled at this horrific crime, and that the SPDC authorities have failed to take any action over the case. If such impunity continues, the SPDC military will continue to commit such crimes, threatening the lives of women and girls throughout the country.

The KWO demands the immediate arrest of the rapist and prosecution in accordance with the severity of his crime. His commanding officer, Captain Thet Khaing, must also be held accountable for this crime and be punished for failing to ensure prosecution of the offender.

The KWO urges the international community to pressure the SPDC authorities to take action over this case, and to ensure that the victim’s family and other community members face no retaliation for their attempts to seek justice. http://www.freeburmarangers.org/Reports/2009/20090124.html