Two DKBA soldiers desert

July 7, 2009
HURFOM: Many young people have to flee their homes in Karen State, due to recruitment for Border Guard Forces (BGF) and other government-run militias, and increased militarization.
According to two soldiers who deserted from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), “Some of the DKBA higher-ranking Generals agreed with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to be a BGF; therefore, the DKBA tries to recruit for the BGF…many young people have been fleeing from their home to avoid the recruitment.”
The two former-DKBA soldiers, three-year veterans who arrived at the Thai-Burma border, told HURFOM of the concomitant increase in troops: “the DKBA has been increasing their troops in the area…now, the DKBA has 6,000 troops. They [DKBA] will try to get another more than 3000 troops to develop their army. They target the young people between 20 and 30 (years-of-age) and recruit them in the army.
“In early May 2009, the [DKBA] Chief of staff Oo Kyaw Than and Junior Chief of staff Htun Hlaing have been commanding their troops to join the [Burmese] army and recruiting new soldiers…a hundred young people have been recruited by the DKBA army in our area.”
Because the DKBA Battalions force young people to join, many have fled, including Kha Lae Dta Gone Daing village, Kyainnseikyi Township (where the DKBA’s Battalion no. 906 is located) and Thee Khu Thaw village (where the DKBA’s Battalion no. 901 is located).
The two ex-DKBA members, 25- and 28-years-old, said that, “many Karen young people flee to the Thai – Burma border. Some young people who come from wealthy families, they just escape to Rangoon (Yangon) and find jobs there.”
HURFOM confirmed the report that the DKBA’s Colonel Saw Chit Thu commanded his army to recruit about 3,000 to implement their new brigade and insisted on recruiting as many young people as possible in Meh Naw Hta and Meh K’Taw, Karen State. Said one of the deserters, 25, “Because of the fighting between two Karen groups [KNU and DKBA], Karen young people don’t want to join the army. They worried killing each other. As a result, they avoid joining the army with the DKBA.
“Because of the desire to be private troops for the SPDC, they followed whatever the SPDC commanded of them. We are like their slaves; we cannot do for our people anymore. Now, the SPDC forces us to fight and kill each other. This situation is awful in our Karen history. We don’t want to accept [this]; therefore, we left the DKBA army.”
HURFOM received minutes from a May 12th DKBA meeting. In the meeting, it was announced that the DKBA had only 6,000 soldiers and needed more than 3,000 to extend their troops, focusing on young men to be mercenaries. For those extant DKBA soldiers over 50-years-old, the meeting addressed pensions they would receive from the SPDC.


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