I really want to work for the interest of the Karen but, we cannot fight each other,” a sergeant told the Karen Information Center (KIC). The sergeant worked for six years for the DKBA’s 999 special battalion. He surrendered to the KNU 101 battalion of the 7th Brigade on July 14, 2009.

DKBA soldiers suffer from depression
News – KIC
REPORT BY NAN HTOO SAN
FRIDAY, 17 JULY 2009 09:22

Troops of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a break-away Karen ethnic armed group, are suffering from depression because they have been pushed into a battle by the Burmese military junta against rivals, the Karen National Union (KNU). “All of us are Karen and fighting each other,” complained some DKBA soldiers.

“I really want to work for the interest of the Karen but, we cannot fight each other,” a sergeant told the Karen Information Center (KIC). The sergeant worked for six years for the DKBA’s 999 special battalion. He surrendered to the KNU 101 battalion of the 7th Brigade on July 14, 2009.

“I don’t want to be a soldier. It’s because we Karen are fighting each other that nobody reaps any benefits. Therefore, I want to live like a normal civilian,” said Sergeant Saw Duu Kuu, (25) from DKBA’s 999 special battalion.

DKBA’s brigades 999, 333, 555 and the headquarter guard force, which is supported by battalions under the Burmese Army’s brigade 22, launched military offensives in the KNU’s 7th brigade area in early June. DKBA brigades overran some areas of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) battalions. According to KNU’s 7th brigade, over 200 soldiers of all rank of the DKBA were killed in battles.

Over 4,000 villagers from 20 villages in this area fled their homes to Thailand to get away from the military offensive. They were unable to take their belongings with them. Besides, family members of the dead are heartbroken.

“I became a solder when DKBA recruited us from our village. I have to be in the army for three years. Now I have already completed one year in the army. When I patrolled the front line in the KNU 7th brigade area, I stepped on a landmine and lost one leg. I don’t want to fight but I cannot do anything except feel sad. It is a debt from my past life,” said a 20-year old DKBA soldier, who is being treated in Mae Sot hospital, from Noe Pho Htee Mu Htar village.

Lt. Col Saw San Pyauk, a battalion commander of battalion No.7 under DKBA brigade 999, and his company were killed in an ambush. DKBA accused the KNU for the ambush. Even as the accusation spreads, they don’t trust each other in DKBA. According to border sources DKBA soldiers, on duty in KNU brigade 7 areas are suffering from depression.
After completing military operations in KNU brigade 7 area, now DKBA 907, 906, 901 battalions led by Lt. Col. Saw Lar Pwel (Nauk Khan Mwe) and the Burmese Army are deployed in the KNU brigade 6 area. According to a KNU officer, DKBA seems to be ready for another military offensive in KNU brigade 6 areas.

After DKBA agreed to transform to a Border Guard Force ahead of the 2010 election, the junta is attempting to take control of the border area. The military offensive in KNU area is part of the plan.

Saw Maung Win, (43) came to join the KNU on July 13. Saw Maung Win is from DKBA headquarter security guard battalion 2. Before he went to KNU, he killed his officer. Members from KPF and DKBA came to join KNU brigade 6 in the second week of July. According to KNU battalion 16 Commander Lt. Col. Mann Tin Hlaing, most KPF and DKBA members who joined the KNU want to live a normal life.

According to the KNU, 30 soldiers from DKBA and 45 from KPF came to join the KNLA battalion 16 under KNU brigade 6 in early July. The soldiers deserting DKBA are joining KNU because they do not want to transform to a border guard-force and keep fighting.

LAST UPDATED ON FRIDAY, 17 JULY 2009 09:26

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