Myanmar: 11-year-old Girl abducted from Kyone Ka Yote primary school

October 4, 2013

HURFOM: Residents of Kyone Ka Yot, a village located a few miles from Thanbyuzayat City in central Mon State, alleged that the recent kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl revealed the extent of police corruption and human trafficking trends in the area. According to locals, seven cases of human trafficking have already been confirmed in Thanbyuzayat and Mudon townships this year, all targeting children between the ages of 7 and 15, and family members of the disappeared young girl fear the worst.

Mi Ong Mon Son, a primary school student in Kyone Ka Yote, was reportedly kidnapped around 1pm on September 28 after two men came to her school and requested to speak with her. According to teachers, the visitors appeared to be over the age of 30 and school staff, believing the men to be the girl’s relatives, allowed them to talk with the girl. Shortly after they spoke, Mi Ong Mon Son asked her teachers for permission to go home. The teachers agreed, but asked two fellow students to accompany the men to the girl’s house.

The men allegedly took Mi Ong Mon Son on their motorbike while the other two students drove behind. The students reported that instead of stopping when the men arrived at the girl’s house, they sped away, and the students did not think to call out to neighbors but returned to school where they described the incident to teachers.

Upon hearing the story, Mi Ong Mon Son’s teachers said they immediately informed her relatives. Abbot Su Wanna, one of the girl’s family members, phoned the police in Thanbyuzayat City to report the abduction and ask them to initiate pursuit of the captors. He alleged that the police did not comply with his request.

“Just over 30 minutes later – as soon as we heard – we informed the police but we did not offer to pay them, and that’s why they didn’t handle anything for us. If we paid them, they would have tracked the strangers. They have many human resources so if they had worked [to find her], they could have done it. I think the police did not want to work without a bribe and that’s why we lost the girl.”

According to the family, the Kyone Ka Yote village administrator also informed the police about the kidnapping but received no satisfactory response. Abbot Su Wanna said he attempted to contact all of Mi Ong Mon Son’s relatives to help with the search and posted her photo on Facebook in the hopes that someone had seen her.

The abbot and other family members fear the young girl may have been a victim of a reputed human trafficker living in Palain Japan (Japan Yay Twin village) near the Thai-Burma border. The family explained that the woman was responsible for brokering the deal to sell Mi Ong Mon Son when she was three years old to her adoptive parents, who later moved to Thailand and left the girl with an aunt. Abbot Su Wanna tried to contact the woman the same day as the kidnapping but said she had changed her phone number and disappeared from town.

Ethnic armed groups also guilty of land confiscation: The case of Kha Yone Gu

July 11, 2013

HURFOM: In recent months Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) has been tracking various cases of land confiscation, some of which took place years ago but have only now come to light. So far, published documentation has focussed on confiscations perpetrated by the Burmese military, local authorities and private companies working on government projects. However, field reporters have noted that numerous ethnic armed groups have also been involved in land seizures in Mon areas. Residents have accused ethnic armed groups of taking advantage of the on-going peace process to further their own interests, with the government giving groups involved in 2012 ceasefires the authority to take land from residents.

Today HURFOM reports on one particular series of land confiscations, carried out in the area of Kha Yon Guu in Mon State’s Kyiakmayaw Township.

Land confiscations in Kha Yon Guu

Reports from Kha Yone Gu concern the activities of a small Mon armed group, known both as the Mon Peace Group and the Nai Shoung group. Recently they are alleged to have imported illegal weapons, appeasing military forces by selling arms to the South Eastern Command. As a result, last year, having built good relations with the Burmese military, they sought permission to deploy troops to the Kha Yone Gu area. Their request was granted and troops were deployed to the central bus-stop area of Kha Yone Gu, led by Maj. Nai Bying.

Land confiscations began immediately. Nai Bying, who also holds a government appointed position of authority in the region, seized land from Kha Yone Gu residents to secure it for the troop’s use. The armed group are reported to have consulted the Kyaikmayaw Township Land Records Department to find the most suitable pieces of land. Farms were taken from residents of various villages, who reportedly possessed the paperwork to prove their ownership of the land. When landowners tried to resist seizures, showing this paperwork to armed group forces, they were threatened at gunpoint and intimidated into handing over their plantations. The confiscated land was fenced off and the group put up their flag to mark the territory as their own. Continue reading “Ethnic armed groups also guilty of land confiscation: The case of Kha Yone Gu”

Government’s Navy Units Continue to Violate Rights of Locals in Yebyu Township-residents ask to control troops

April 11, 2012

A report detailing mounting human rights violations in Yebyu territory, titled, “Government’s Navy Units Continue to Violate Rights of Locals in Yebyu Township,” was published on January 20, 2012, on the Human Rights Foundation of Monland’s website (HURFOM/www.rehmonnya.org). Since then, continued monitoring has indicated that the violators–low-ranking soldiers and officials of the Mawrawaddy Navy Command naval administrative unit No. 43–have been blatantly disregarding the human rights of local residents who make their living in fishing and cultivation.  The growing violations committed by government troops against civilians are unacceptable and unbefitting to a transition period during which the country is carefully taking steps in a new direction. This short report aims to force the governors and chief ministers of their particular states or divisions to stop the unit No. 43 navy administrative officials from repeatedly violating locals’ rights. In February and March, three field reporters interviewed 22 villagers in order to present the events and opinions found in this report.


Money extorted from local fishermen

The officials and soldiers of the navy administrative unit No. 43, which operates under Mawrawaddy Navy Command, number more than sixty troops and have bases in the Yebyu Township villages of Own-pin-kwin, Kywe Thone Nyi MaKadike harbor, and Kyauk Hta Yan. The troops have extorted money from people with marine-related businesses or fishing-boat owners in the villages near their bases. In February alone, fees of 30,000 kyat, gasoline, and fishing products were unfairly seized from 210 owners of small or large fishing-boats in Kyauk Hta Yan and Da-Min-Seik villages, according to locals.  Ko Ngwe Own (pseudonym), a 44-year-old Kyauk Hta Yan resident, feeds his six family members by fishing off a small boat powered by a Honda engine. On February 18th, he reported that the military troops, police, and navy units have extorted money from him over his entire fishing career, creating a situation in which he struggles to provide for his family. Even in this era of new government, there is no decline in the bribery and extortion committed against civilian populations. In fact, the violations are increasing dramatically. Continue reading “Government’s Navy Units Continue to Violate Rights of Locals in Yebyu Township-residents ask to control troops”

Release of Political Prisoners Can Move Forward ‘National Reconciliation’-HURFOM

There are about 2100 political prisoners including ethnic leaders imprisoned for long-term imprisonment.  They were put trial not because of their political activities, but the regime accused them because of ‘threatening the national security’, ‘motivating for instability’, ‘illegal printing and false information distribution’, etc.  The former military regime, SPDC and the current military proxy regime, USDP, has constantly denied there is no ‘political prisoners’ in Burma.

If the new regime is really interested in building up ‘national reconciliation’, the Prime Mininster U Thein Sein must consider to release the above-mentioned ‘political prisoners’.  If the USDP is really moving toward for democratization in Burma, they must allow freedom of expression of the people.  Those political prisoners were arrested in the former regime, for their democratic practice in expressing their views and opinions.

All political prisoners, 88 Generation leaders, ethnic leaders, social activists and labor activists can play an important part of ‘national reconciliation’ if the new regime is clever enough to negotiate.  If they are allowed to be able to sit on ‘negotiation table’, there will be no political conflict and street demonstration.

The new government must not see the political prisoners, as their political enemy, but they can negotiate with them for the betterment of the country.

Along with the international community, HURFOM recommends to the regime that it needs to consider for a national reconciliation strategy first, if it really need to improve social and economic development in the country.  These political prisoners can provide many inputs to the new government.

The New Government Must Respect Freedom-commentary Hurfom

April 18, 2011

On the 31st of March, when the new government leader and former military commander, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, took office in Naypyidaw, the capital of Burma, he promised a clean and good governance. This was his promise, but in practice, if he and his government do not allow various freedoms inherent in a democracy, the people will never believe that the government will bring them toward democracy.

If the government is really promoting a democratic system, they must agree to allowing the freedom of expression, political opinions, and political beliefs. They must allow the opposition parties or other political forces to analyze the government policies and its rules. First, the government should release all political prisoners or social workers imprisoned in the previous government. These political figures and activists were put in jail just for expressing their political opinions. If freedom of expression is allowed in this new government, all political prisoners must be released.

Similarly, many social activists who were working in the fields of labor rights, relief, health care, and education were arrested and put in jail for their competing activities against the previous military governments. They were working in the field against forced labour, the relief program during the 2008 Cyclone Nargis incident, and providing education for poor students. If the new government respects freedom of association and assembly and respects the rights of people for education and health care, they must release all of these social activists.

For a democratic and peaceful Burma, the new government must respect the opinions of the ethnic minority people. Ethnic people have concern for their nationality identity and territories, so the new government must talk to all ethnic minorities, asking them what their needs are to protect their national identity. The government should find a way to bring about national unity and peace in the country. If not, the democratic system will not come about peacefully.

If the government claims that they are an elected government, then they must respect all opinions from different individuals, organizations and ethnic groups.

Minority Rights in Ethnic States of Burma-commentary HURFOM

March 12, 2011

According to the new constitution, Burma is divided into 7 Burman dominated Divisions and another 7 ethnic States for Kachin, Karen, Chin, Shan, Karenni, Mon, and Arakanese areas with some special ethnic regions for the Wa and others.  Although the recent military regime pretended to form an ethnic Union of Burma, a real union would provide equal rights to all ethnic nationalities in the country.

During the long course of civil war in Burma, the ethnic people have been the people to suffer the most for decades.  They never obtained any political rights and fundamental freedoms like the majority population in the country.  They are never the decision-makers for their natural resources in their homelands.

The military regime and the Burmese Army have operated intensive military operations against these ethnic minorities and committed gross human rights violations on a daily basis.  Thousands of ethnic people have had to flee from their homes.

The new government elected from the November 2010 election is as same as the previous government.  But if this government wants stability and economic prosperity, they must cease their decades old civil war and offer the possibility of ethnic rights to the minorities according to international principles.  The population of all combined ethnic nationalities is about one-third of the total population of Burma, and they occupy half of the country’s area. But their rights and the benefits from their land are limited.  If the government continues to ignore the rights of these minority people, this will lead to continuous civil war.