Relief Mission Report: Relief Mission to Karenni People Displaced by Attacks of the Burma Army
June 17 to July 9, 2004
Karenni State, Burma
9 July, 2004

Karenni IDPs fleeing, June 2004
FBR Relief Team member carrying an IDP child, June 2004
Relief team medics perform an operation, July 2004
Good Life Club with Karenni IDPs, June 2004


A joint Karen, Karenni and Shan Free Burma Ranger relief team conducted a relief mission to displaced Karenni people on the Karen-Karenni border from 17 June to 9 July, 2004. During this 23 day mission the team treated 850 medical patients and 20 dental patients. The main medical problems treated
were Acute Respiratory Infection, Malaria, and Anemia. There was one delivery of a baby girl, and four surgical operations. The team visited two main displaced persons hide sites and helped one group of Karenni villagers who were fleeing the attacks of the Burma Army. Distance walked-238 miles.

Daily Report:

17 June 2004;
Start of Mission: Relief Mission to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),
Northern Karen State and Southern Karenni State,
Foot movement

18 June 2004;
Foot movement, stayed one night at XXX XX, Northern Karen State.

19 June 2004;
Re-arranged loads, walked to XX XX, Muthraw District, Northern Karen State.

20 June 2004;
Arrive XX XX XXX, attended worship service,
introduced Karen, Karenni and Shan relief team members.
Medical patients treated:2
Dental Patients treated: 1

21 June 2004;
Held video, photography and video interviewing classes.
Medical Patients Treated: 5
Dental Patients Treated: 1

22 June 2004;
Continued training new team members in reporting, interviewing, and
computer/power class.
Medical Patients Treated: -0
Dental Patients Treated: 1

23 June 2004;
Left 5am, crossed the Burma Army controlled road in Northern Karen State
(Kyauk Kyi-Saw Hta road).
Arrived at Xx XX.
Medical Patients Treated: 5
Dental Patients Treated: 1
Met with local leaders and coordinated for the mission. Learned that the Burma Army had started an operation to clear civilians from the Paho area of Southern Karenni State. We decided  to go to help the people fleeing Paho after we had helped other displaced people enroute. There was a group of 177
people in hiding on the route to the Paho area and we were asked to help them first.

 June 24, 2004;
The team receives an update on the situation north of them on the Karen State-Karenni State Border.
I) The Burma Army starts limited offensive to clear villagers and Karenni resistance forces from Karen/Karenni border area.

On June 24, 2004, two Burma Army Battalions are en-route to clear villages northwest and southwest of the Mawchi/Toungoo road.
1). Burma Army Battalion LIB 428 along with 1 squad of KNSO (Karenni Solidarity Organization- a break away faction working for the Burma Army) troops are on an offensive in the Buko Kwa village area. This is located north of the Mawchi/Toungoo road on the Karenni side of the Karenni / Toungoo District, Karen State border.
2).Burma Army Battalion LIB 135 and 1 squad of KNSO troops are on their way to Paho village and 1 platoon of KNSO troops are on their way to Tha Pae Tee Village (near called Ka Lae Lo village). This is the area South of the Mawchi/Toungoo road on the Karenni / Papun district, Karen State border. These troops are on their way to clear civilians and any resistance forces out of the area.

II) Current Situation of the 5,000 displaced Karen and Karenni people along the Karen and Karenni border.

In the Burma Army January 2004 offensive, 5,000 Karenni and Karen people were displaced along the Karen and Karenni border. 2,000 Karenni people were displaced from 20 villages in this area. They were first ordered to move by Burma Army LIB 249. They were to move to relocation sites (including Mandaline, Mawchi, Bwa Doh,” 8-mile” village, and Ko Sa Kee) on the Mawchi road. The villagers did not comply. They said that they were afraid to move near the road because many of them had been used as forced labor to build the road. They were afraid of forced labor and beatings by the Burma Army. Also they would not be able to farm their land and harvest their crops if they relocated. On January 23, the Burma Army 55th division enforced the earlier relocation order. On 26 and 29 January the 55th Division sent ten battalions to attack the villages, resulting in over 2,000 Karenni displaced. 1,000 people fled to Toungoo district in the Karen State, while 1,000 fled into Papun district (Muthraw) of Karen State. The Burma Army chased the Karenni villages into Karen State and then attacked Karen villages causing over 3,000 Karen to flee. This made for a total of 5,000 people displaced by this offensive, (2,000 Karenni, 3,000 Karen).
The Burma Army offensive ended in late January 2004 and by early June 2004 most of the displaced Karen and Karenni villagers had returned home. Of the 2,000 Karenni IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), approximately 350-400 Karenni people are still in the Karen State. In the Karenni State, some of the displaced have returned but can not live in their villages. They live in hiding nearby so that they are close enough to tend their fields but are still relatively safe from attack. 600-700 people went to relocation sites during the offensive but have now been allowed to return to their villages because they had no food in the relocation sites. Most can live in their old villages, but some stay only near their fields.

During the January offensive, the IDPs received some emergency relief from FBR teams and once the offensive ended rice from the KSWC (Karenni Social Welfare Committee), was delivered to the IDPs. The rice was sufficient for the months of April and May and in June, local villagers and the Karenni
resistance provided rice. There is a need for more rice in July for the Karenni IDPs who remain in Karen State (approximately 350-400 in Papun District (Muthraw), Karen State and 30-40 in Toungoo District, Karen State). They do not have food for next month. It is too late for them, even if they were able to return to their villages, to have any harvest during 2004.  In May plastic sheeting for shelter for these IDPs was sent from the KSDP (Karenni Student Development Program).

The Burma Army has placed landmines extensively in the areas south of the Mawchi Road and near the village of Paho (three miles north of the Karen border). The Karenni resistance has removed four landmines near the village so far. On May 10 at 11 a.m. a 30-year-old Karenni man was killed when he
stepped on a Burma Army landmine while trying to return to his village. On 26 May 2004 at 9 am, Naw Ger Moo Paw, a 16-year-old Karenni girl, stepped on a landmine near Htoo Ka Htoo village northwest of Mawchi. She lost her leg and has been sent to a mobile clinic in the Karen State.
After finalizing plans, redistributing loads and prayer, the team moves 4 hours to village XX XX enroute to the first hide site.
Medical Patients treated: 126
Dental Patients treated: 1

25 June 2004;
Walked from XX to XX  XX
Medical Patients treated: 50
Dental Patients treated: 2

Situation Update:
I) Karenni villagers flee approaching Burma Army troops – 25 June 2004

Burma Army Battalion LIB 135 approached the Karenni village of Paho on 25 June 2004. The villagers fled and are now in hiding. Paho is located five miles north of the Karenni-Karen State border, in the vicinity of Nat Thaung Mountain (elevation 8,607 feet). The village itself is located on the eastern slopes of the mountain between 4,500-5,000 feet (E 097 degrees  07 minutes, N 18 degrees 44 minutes  seconds). The villagers are fleeing with only what they can carry and will try to find a place to hide tonight, 26
June 2004.

II) Nearby in this area, a relief team (FBR), is currently giving medical treatment to a group of Karenni IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), from Bay Kee, Ko Sa Kee, Bwa Doh, Sho Daw Ko, Sho Lo, and Toe Do Lay Ko villages. In January 2004, people from all of these villages fled from Burma Army attacks in the Southern Karenni areas. This was part of the over 5,000 people displaced during the January offensive. During January they hid in the jungle and in February they moved to this hide site (The location of this site is available but reported here for security of the IDPs). These people will run out of rice by July 2004. Up to now rice has been brought in on an emergency basis by the Karenni Social Welfare Committee and the Karenni resistance.

In January, the Burma Army had plans to attack Lay Kee village but had problems on the way and turned back.

Interview #1:
Name: Thu Day Moo
Age: over 90
Village: Lay Kee

He fought with the British against the Japanese and Burmans in WWII as a ‘home guard’ for the British. His wage was 30 rupees per month for three months. He was never given training, and served for three months. He asked why it is taking so long for Burma’s war to finish when in WWII once the British came it was over in such a short time. He was given a gun by Col. Peacock and a Karen officer. His older brother is an ex-soldier with the British (he was registered as a soldier). He had heard of Major Seagrim. He

heard he was killed. ‘Our houses are all burned down and the British are not helping’. ‘A long time ago the British were here and there were no problems, but now they are now and we have a lot of problems’. He has received some money through the CIDKP (Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People) when their village was  burned down. That was three years ago. (He was given 1,000 Baht after this interview on behalf of the British ex-servicemen’s league).

Situation Update (in Toungoo District, Karen State):
There are now approximately 20,000 Karen IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), in Toungoo District of the Karen State. Toungoo District is the northern most district of the Karen State.  In January 2004 the Burma Army launched an offensive in this area (along with offensives in the Karenni State and Papun District, Karen State). Along with displacing over 5,000 people along the Karen-Karenni State border, the Burma Army burned down the Toungoo District villages of Klay Soe Kee, Maw Thu Der and Htee Sa Ber.

These villagers are still in hiding. The offensive has stopped but the Burma Army has reinforced its troops in Toungoo District and is preparing to continue road construction on the Toungoo-Mawchi road once the rainy season is over. Forced labor in the form of porters is being used to stock all Burma Army outposts along this road with food supplies.

Burma Army battalions are located along the Toungoo District, Karen State-Karenni Border and Toungoo District- Papun District border, Karen State. At Busakee on the Toungoo-Papun border, there is one Burma Army Battalion in place. On the Toungoo-Mawchi road from Toungoo to the Karenni border there are 2 battalions on patrol and over 10 outposts manned by one battalion each.

26 June 2004;
5am walked to the hide site of the 177 Karenni.
Medical Patients Treated: 150
Dental Patients Treated: 1

In January 2004, people from Bay Kee, Ko Sa Kee, Bwa Doh, Sho Daw Ko, Sho Lo, and Toe Do Lay Ko all fled from Burma Army attacks in the southern Karenni area.177 came to this hide site. This site was
established in February after the villagers had hidden in the jungle for a month.

The relief team conducted interviews with Karenni IDPs in this hide site (The location of this site, the names and villages of those interviewed are available but not reported here for security of the IDPs)

Interview #2; landmine victims, forced labor

Name: XXX XXX (female)
Age: 45 years old
Married, 4 children
Village: XXX XXX (Karenni State)

XXX XXX left her village five months ago because she was afraid of Burma Army troops and wasn’t sure when they were coming to her village. In the past, her husband and daughters (one is 16 years old) had to build a road, and carry rice and other supplies for the Burma Army Division 55 troops. She was afraid of more forced labor for the Burma Army.

In July 2002, Tha Do Mee, a man from XXX XXX village was killed by stepping on a Burma Army landmine. Six villagers, including his wife went to look for him. They found his body and near it was another landmine that had not exploded. When the villagers tried to remove his body, the landmine went
off. Three men were slightly wounded, two men lost legs (XXX XXX, XXX XXX), and Tha Do Mee’s wife (XXX XXX) was also seriously wounded in her chest and abdomen. When Tha Do Mee died he had one child and his wife was pregnant.

XXX XXX asks people to remember her in their prayers, as they have no chance to work or eat properly. She says she needs food and blankets. The IDPs in her site are going to run out of food soon. One of her daughters went to a nearby village to work. There is a school in the hide site, but no consistent medical care.

Interview #3: killing by KNSO (Karenni National Solidarity Organization),
beating, torture

Name: XXX XXX (female)
Age: 33 years old
Married, five children
Husband’s name: XXX XXX
Village:  XXX XXX (Karenni State)

Her husband’s father and mother and brother were killed by the KNSO in February 2004. They were told by the KNSO that they were to go to Mawchi forced relocation site, but didn’t want to go. The KNSO told them that anyone who were followers of resistance leaders needed to run away to other countries, but those who wanted peace should go (to Mawchi). The family was separated after they fled their village, with her parents-in-law in one place, her brother-in-law in another and herself and her husband in a third

place. She and her husband left their village on February 13th, 2004 to go into hiding. On February 27th at midnight, her brother-in-law was hunting in the jungle and was killed by KNSO troops. Also on February 27th, at 5am, her mother-in-law and father-in-law were killed by KNSO troops. On February 28th, the troops burned their bodies. Their were two other villagers with her in-laws who escaped the KNSO troops with only some injuries and they told her what happened to her family. Her family first went to a district in Karen State, but it was too difficult to survive, so they moved to this hide site.

Two of her sisters have been arrested by the KNSO and were beaten by them (slapped and punched). They were accused of supporting the Karenni resistance forces. One nephew of hers, accused of supporting the Karenni resistance forces, was arrested by the KNSO and sent to Loikaw prison, where

he was tortured with electric shocks. When his wife went to visit him in prison, she was not allowed to see him.
“Now I am in a strange place where I can’t find my way around. The leaders here have made good arrangements, but I don’t know what happened to my rice barn or my parents’ rice barn.”

Interview #4: Landmine victim

Name: XXX XXX (male)
Age: 37 years old
Married, 3 children
Village: XXX XXX (Karenni State)
Occupation: Farmer

In January 2004, he and his family left their village because the Burma Army Division 55 ordered them to move to Mawchi forced relocation site. They were afraid of the Burma Army troops because they said they would kill anyone left in the village.

On July 7, 1997 he stepped on a landmine. He was on a trail, had already found one landmine and was trying to avoid another one. Two other people with him were wounded by the landmine. It took one week for him to reach a clinic. The Burma Army troops had burned all of the houses in his village (over 30 houses) at that time. They ate some rice and destroyed the rest. He can’t remember the name of the Burma Army unit, but remembers the leader’s name was Major Tha Aung.

Interview #5; landmine victim, forced labor

Name: XXX XXX (Female)
Age: 70 years old
Married (husband deceased), 2 children
Village: XXX XXX (Karenni State)

Two years ago, her son (XXX XXX, 30 years old), stepped on a landmine on a car road and was killed. The Burma Army had to leave the road unfinished and placed landmines on it when they left the area.  He was married and had two children. His wife and children are now in Mawchi forced relocation site.

Two years ago, the Burma Army troops came to her village and forced everyone out of their houses. They went into her house, took her husband’s gun and their chickens. She tried to take the chickens back and they pointed their guns at her. She said the Burma Army has come and shot in their village before.

The Burma Army forced people in her village to be human landmine sweepers and carry things for the troops. She had to carry rice on a one day trip for the Burma Army. She was ‘already old’ and she carried around eight kilos. She was given payment or food by the Burma Army. Now she is always afraid when she hears a gunshot.

Interview #6; Forced labor, forced relocation

Names: XXX XXX and XXX XXX (husband and wife)
Ages: 54 and 45 years old
8 children
Village: XXX XXX (Karenni State)

In their village both husband and wife were forced to clean the car road nearby and carry things for the Burma Army troops. They were also asked by KNSO and Burma Army troops to bring bamboo to them. The villagers were given no compensation for the bamboo or pay for their work. He estimated that
incidents like this happened at least ten times per year. “When you are under their control, whenever they ask you to come, you must go.”(referring to the Burma Army)

In 1997 he was used by the Burma Army troops for forced labor. He was carrying wounded Burma Army soldiers. When the soldier he was carrying was distracted he escaped.

Their family was forced to relocate from their village by KNSO and Burma Army troops to a forced relocation site near Mawchi. They stayed there for two months before fleeing to this hide site in January 2004. They ran the whole night after they left the forced relocation site.

The leaders in the area of the IDP hide site are helping them.. Their children are separated for the sake of education- two in another country and one in a larger city. He wants them all to have a good education.

Interview #7: forced relocation, killing

Names: XXX XXX and XXX XXX (husband and wife)
Ages: 56 and 45
6 children
Village: XXX XXX

They left their village in January 2004 and moved to a forced relocation site. Soon after that they escaped from the relocation site and moved to this hide site. They were expecting a lot of forced labor and thought they were too old to endure that.

Her first husband was killed in 1982. He was the head of the village and wouldn’t surrender their arms to the Burma Army troops. The troops poured water and chilies into his mouth, tied a plastic bag around his head with water in it and then took him outside the village and killed him. The villagers found his dead body by a stream. The Burma Army had also killed her uncle after cutting his tongue, ears and nose off.

Spent night at IDP hide site.

27 June 2004;
6am church service with IDPs.
Team helps to deliver baby girl, ‘Ati’. Born 8am.
Medical Patients Treated: 25
Dental Patients Treated:1

9:15am walked to XX XX
Medical Patients Treated: 102
Dental Patients Treated: 4

28 June 2004;
Team split into two groups– Team 1 to Karenni area near Paho, Team 2 to
Team 1: to IDP hide site #1 (N XX XX X, E XX XX X) near Paho village
Medical Patients treated; 88
Dental Patients treated; -0

Situation Update:
Burma Army troops entered into Paho village, Karenni State, on 28 June and captured one villager. This villager had left the hiding place to gather his possessions. The Burma Army then approached the hiding place of the villagers causing the villagers to flee deeper into the jungle.

The relief team helped to move ten families from one hide site to another, keeping them away from the Burma Army. This morning, 29 June, the families moved further away again as the Burma Army approached. The Burma Army and KNSO (Karenni National Solidarity Organization) are now approaching from two directions. The IDPs have now been sent on again with part of the relief team as the rest of the team will stay in the area to help villagers who did not make it to the hide site and to keep watch on the Burma Army.

It has been reported that the villager who was captured has now been released, but at the time of this report the team has had no direct contact with him.

Message from a Releif Team Leader

29 June 2004;
Team 1: Moves IDPs to a safer area and then continues to They Pha Tee and Yu
Hae Daw Ko.
Medical Patients treated: 90
Dental Patients treated: 2

Team 2: XX x and XXX villages
Medical Patients Treated: 25
Dental Patients Treated: -0
@ XX x- taught at school. At village XXX,-Visited church and school,
distributed Good Life Club packs, cassette player.

Interview #8:
Name: XX XX
Married, 12 children (oldest  17 years, youngest is 2 months)
Village: Paho

The Burma Army from Mawchi gave an order for their village to move within five days. This was after Christmas, late December 2003/early January 2004 when they gave the order. His family had no time to get all of their possessions. They went to XXX XXX for one month and after that moved to XX XX. He is farming in this village now.

In Paho his house was burned twice within the past five years by the Burma Army from Mawchi. The Burma Army troops who burned his house also took his chicks and other possessions. Many times the Burma Army took things from villagers in Paho. The KNSO (Karenni National Solidarity Organization)  also asked villagers to come see them many times, but they never went. The KNSO came one time to Paho in October 2003 and destroyed all of their banana plantations, rice and vegetable farms. He never experienced forced labor. Seventeen years ago he was arrested by Burma Army soldiers. They tied his
hands and neck and kicked his stomach. They accused him of being part of the Karenni resistance and asked for his gun.

” If they come, we run away”.

Interview #9:
Age: 30

Married, 4 children (oldest is 7 years, youngest 7 months)
Village: XX XX

She left her village six months ago. The Burma Army troops told their village they had to leave to they would be killed. She didn’t take anything with her, she just ran away with her children. She stopped many places on her way to this village–in the jungle, on people’s farms, and in other villages. She came to this village (where she grew up) to live with her mother, who is blind. She married a man from XX XX.

For many years, since 1999, before fleeing her village she stayed on her farm rather than in ton because the Burma Army troops always came to her village. They called the villagers for forced labor, but they always ran away. They heard the Burma Army would kill them if they disobeyed.

“For four years she has not had a good sleep, she is always ready to run.”

(In March 2004 all of the villagers from XX XX fled the village when the Burma Army shot from a nearby ridge into the village. She arrived one week after this happened. The people from this village also ran during the Burma Army offensive of January 2004).

Situation Update:
The Karenni IDPs who fled the Burma Army in the Paho area are now further away in a safer hiding place and food is being taken to them. The Burma Army Battalion LIB 135 searched this area for seven days but were unable to find the main IDP hiding places. However, they came very close to some of them,
forcing the people to flee further away. Burma Army LIB 135 has now returned to its’ base in Mawchi and there are no further operations in the area (south of the Mawchi road to the Karen border) at this time. Most of the 500 villagers who were hiding away from their villages in this area have now been able to return to their villages. It is not clear whether or not the Burma Army will launch another operation into this area and because of this the villagers are ready to flee at any time.

North of the Mawchi road, in the Buko area, close to the Karenni-Karen (Toungoo District) border, operations against Karenni villagers are ongoing. Burma Army Battalion LIB 428 has split into two columns and is searching for the hiding places of the villagers. On 30 June they approached Gay Lo
village, causing more than 100 villagers to flee. In this area, 200 people are in hiding and over 800 more who were in the path of the operation are preparing to flee.

1 July 2004;
Team 1: XX XX, IDP hide site from earlier January offensive in Karen State.
Medical Patients Treated: 92
Dental Patients Treated: -0
Walked to XX XX village and met with Team 2, arrived at 230pm

Team 2:
XX XX – visit school 8-noon/1pm-3pm, sing songs, teach English and Burmese
language classes on request.
Medical Patients Treated: 15
Dental Patients Treated:-0

Situation Update:
I) Karenni IDP update:
Burma Army LIB 135 moved into the Paho village, Karenni State, area and as a result there are approximately 500 villagers hiding in pockets of a few families along the Karen-Karenni border. Most of these Internally Displaced People (IDPs) come from villages with 10-15 households. Paho has a
population of 230 people. All the villagers fled when the Burma Army approached. Approximately 40 people moved to safer hiding spots with the help of the relief team and 20 had already gone ahead to a safer place before the team arrived. The other 170 people from Paho scattered in different directions.

Today, 30 June 2004, a relief team is in another hide site with 55 people, including two families (10 people) who fled from Paho and 45 people who fled from a village a few miles away from Paho.

Karenni State has an estimated 50,000 IDPs.

2 July 2004;
XX XX X Village
Medical Patients Treated: 85 (3 pregnant women checked)
* Saw Kyaw Buh, 29 years old asked the medics for help. For one year he has had a serious skin problem all over his body. The affected patches of skin itch and when he sweats they burn. He is tired all the time.
Dental Patients Treated: 2

Interview #10:
Name: XX XX
Age: 32 years old
Married, 5 children
Village: XXX XXX (headman of village in 1996-1997). Population is 70

households or over 400 people.

The Burma Army came to this area in the past (before 1997), to XX XX village, but did not burn anything down. On 17 June 1997 the Burma Army came to XXX XXX and stayed two nights. There were 600 Burma Army troops in the area at that time, in positions in and around the village. They ate all of the chickens and the pigs. The Burma Army troops then burned all of their houses and rice barns. The church and school were left standing. At that time there were 80 households (over 450 people). The villagers found out the troops were on their way only when they arrived in a village nearby, XX XX, so they did not have time to take many of their possessions. All of the villagers fled in different directions before the troops arrived, so no one was hurt. The villagers hid for 22 days. When they came back, there was nothing left and they had to rebuild their homes and rice barns in rainy season.

There have been no problems with Burma Army troops in their village since that time until January 2004. The troops came into the area, not into the village proper, in January. The villagers fled and stayed for one month in hide sites. There were villagers who were seriously ill while they were hiding.

Walked from XX XX to XX XX XX.
Medical Patients Treated: 6
Dental Patients Treated: -0

3 July 2004;
Began to walk south, crossed car road, to XX.
Write report/planning/meetings with area leaders.

4 July 2004;
Rest day, worship service with Karen villagers, team meeting.
Medical Patients Treated: -0
Dental Patients Treated: 4

5 July 2004;
7am walked from XX to XX X XX.
Meet local leaders and health workers.

6 July 2004;
Visit local clinic, speak at health worker workshop, interview two escaped porters.
The team leader of this mission prepared the following message in regards to the events of 28-30 June.

Message from a relief team leader; Karen/Karenni State border, July 6, 2004.

“We arrived at a hide site for the villagers from Paho village, Karenni State, at 2pm on the 28th of June.
There were 10 families living in 10 small houses/shelters, some as small as 12′ by 4′,  made of bamboo and thatch. These were just some of the over 200 people who were chased out of Paho village by the Burma Army. Paho had been burned to the ground three times; in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Even the hiding
place the villagers had fled to had been attacked and destroyed since that time. During the recent Burma Army offensive in this area (December 2003 through January 2004), the villagers had to flee all the way into Northern Karen State. They returned to near their village site in February but due to Burma Army patrols could not reoccupy the village. Instead they divided into small groups and built small shelters in the jungle within walking distance of their fields. On June 24, 2004, one battalion of Burma Army troops made a sweep of this area, looking for the hide sites of the Paho villagers. Our team was in the Northern Karen State, four days walk away at the time we heard the news. We were on our way to help some displaced people in the area south and west of Paho and after treating patients, helping to deliver a baby in a hide site and having a worship service with the people, we walked towards Paho. We arrived at the hide site of 10 of the families and began to treat patients, distribute relief supplies and Good Life Club materials. Everyone was so happy to see us and we were treated to an amazing meal by these generous and resourceful people. They had built a small school out of bamboo and tarps and we had a good time playing with the children. After about two hours I walked up the ravine and out of the hide site to have a look around. About 20 minutes later as I was walking back down, I was met by a mother with a load on her back and rushing her four children ahead of her. When she saw me she did not stop running but said breathlessly, “The Burma soldiers are coming”. As I entered the hide site every villager was frantically packing and
organizing their belongings. Some children were crying and looking up at the hills in terror. Incongruously, some others were clutching the new presents we had just given to them and looked at me giggling and smiling. At the same time their eyes had a unsure, worried look, as if to say, “Is this still a game?. “Please say it is.”

As the team helped to move supplies and lead the villagers away, I asked a Karenni soldier who had led us to this site, “What is the situation?”. He replied, “The Burma soldiers have been in this area for four days looking for the villagers’ hiding place, they are now very close. They have captured a villager who went the old village to look after his crop of corn. We worry they will come here and we have to get everyone out of here now.”

When the first group of families were ready, we sent the medics and part of the team with them to lead them to another hiding place. They started up out of the ravine and went up into the mountains into deeper jungle. I stayed back with three Karenni soldiers and three of our team members to help the remaining people. As we were helping one of the last families, the grandmother of the family turned to me and asked, “It is my son who was captured, what can be done?’. All I could say  was, “Let us pray”. Together we prayed for the release of her son and then she continued to hurriedly pack her large rattan basket with food and cooking implements.

Then another lady in her 70’s came to me and said to me, “My son, don’t worry, God sees everything, the Burma Army will not get away with this, we do not have to be afraid, God will deliver us. We are not afraid!” Her big smile made me smile too and laugh, and I said, “Yes. Grandmother, God sees and cares, we are not afraid and we are in this together, we will be with you.” It took us about half an hour to completely clear the hide site and move the rest of the families to safety. It was dark when we linked up with the first group of families. They were in thick jungle huddled under tarps as rain began to fall. One Karenni soldier on rear security came to us and said, “The Burma Army is very close now and may find us, should we move?”. We discussed this and prayed. We then decided to stay put until dawn. To try to move
up very steep mountains at night,in the rain, with no lights and carrying children including a newborn, would not be possible to do in silence. We were better off to keep quiet and alert; with part of the team ready to lead the families away if we were found. The rest of us would stay between the people and the Burma Army as a buffer.

The night passed without incident and before first light we were up and began to move the families up the mountain and further away from the hide site and the searching Burma Army. At the top of the mountain, part of the team led the people further away while the rest of us stayed to keep watch for the Burma Army and to help any stragglers from other hiding places. That afternoon we found out that the Burma Army had turned back towards their base in Mawchi and that the captured villager had been released and was alive. I thought of the prayers of his mother and thanked God that he was free. We continued to find many displaced people for the next three days, treating over 260 patients and staying with them until we had confirmed the Burma Army had returned to Mawchi. We then continued our mission to the south.

What is in people that they could chase families and small children like this? What evil or madness possess people to do this? What does the Burma Army hope to reap by treating their people this way?

I do not know these answers but I do believe God does care, and justice will come. We are also know you care and are so grateful for all of you who help and pray.

God bless you,
A Free Burma Ranger
6 July, 2004

7 July 2004;
Interviews with porters who escaped from the Burma Army (from July 6, 2004

Name: XX XX
Age: 25
Burman, Buddhist

He was working at a restaurant in XX XX town, Irrawaddy Division. He is the oldest of five children. He was arrested by the police for fighting with a group of people (including one girl) on the road. The girl’s parents are officials in the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council). He said he was accused on many counts. The Burmese laws he said he was sentenced under were Act 325 which means you can be
arrested for ‘hurting someone’ and Act 394, which is used against people who are ‘troublemakers’. He said he was falsely accused. He was sentenced to jail for four years in Insein Prison. He said that if he could have paid enough money, he wouldn’t have been sentenced for so long. After a few months of being in prison, he was sent to Maung Soon concentration camp along with approximately 150 other prisoners. In the concentration camp, they were forced to do hard labor. All of the prisoners were shackled on their ankles.

In the camp he was often beaten with a hard plastic pipe. On 28 February 2003, 100 of the prisoners were sent to Naunglyabin Burma Army camp in four trucks where they stayed one week and then they were sent to Toungoo Prison. In March, 100 porters were sent to Shwey Kyin town where they had to do forced portering for the Burma Army Battalions LIB 598, LIB 350, and LIB 349. The porters had to carry rice, milk, fish paste, and soy beans to a Burma Army camp. On the way back to Shwey Kyin they had to carry ammunition (1-120mm shell and 4- 81mm shells per person). They spent 21 days going back and forth between this town and the Burma Army camp. He saw many other porters being beaten by the Burma Army soldiers, especially those who could no longer carry their loads, work or climb the mountains. The porters were only given two meals per day. It was not enough food for them. 14 porters out of the 100 disappeared. He believed those porters were either killed or beaten and left behind for dead.
1 April 2004 he escaped. Two days later he was arrested again   by the troops. He was beaten by the Burma Army troops 120 times on his buttocks with a large cane stick. Every porter was ordered to beat him two times each. This happened every a porter escaped and was recaptured. He was put in the Burma Army LIB 351 prison on 8 June 2004. On 20 June 2004, 30 porters, including him, were again forced to act as porters and were sent to the front lines. This time he had to carry about 40 kilos. He carried supplies for the Burma Army troops. It took them seven days to travel from the LIB 351 Burma Army camp to Zaw Htaw Burma Army camp. While they were walking with their loads, groups of five porters were tied together by their hands to make sure they didn’t escape. They arrived at Zaw Htaw Burma Army camp on 27 June 2004. He and two other porters were put in the kitchen. Around 11pm, the three of them ran away from the camp. On 29 June, he and the two other men saw a farm hut with villagers, where they were met by some KNU (Karen National Union) authorities. The authorities have fed and taken care of the porters.
Name: XXx XX
Age: 24
Burman, Buddhist
Occupation: Painter

He was arrested on 14 July 2003 for selling illegal lottery. He was sentenced to jail for three years. A few months after going to jail he was sent to Maung Soon concentration camp along with 100 other porters. They had to do hard labor in the concentration camp.

On 28 February 2003, 100 of the prisoners were sent to Naunglyabin Burma Army camp in four trucks where they stayed one week and then they were sent to Toungoo Prison. From Toungoo Prison, he was sent to Than Daung Burma Army camp, where they had to do forced portering along with 30 Karen girls. He believed the girls were from villages nearby that Burma Army camp. Some of the girls were 13, 14, and 15 years old. All of the girls had to bring their own food. The girls had to carry food and other supplies to another Burma Army camp in the front lines. The girls had to carry the same size loads as
the men who were porters. The girls only had to work with them for two days. On the way back from the camp, everyone had to carry ammunition for the Burma Army troops. They had to go back and forth between army camps for 21 days. The loads were very heavy, over 50 kilos (100 lbs). He witnessed a
porter who died from an injury inflicted by a Burma Army soldier who beat him for not being able to carry his load. The soldier beat the soldier drug him by his chin with a metal detector (used to find landmines, it has a hook on top).

The porter died from those injuries. He saw many porters who were beaten by Burma Army troops (LIB 598, commanding officer Captain Win Shwe) with the butts of their guns. He also saw another porter who could no longer carry his loads and were pushed by a Burma Army soldier into a fire. The porter’s back was burned. He was never beaten because he tried very hard to carry his load and work hard. Those porters who escaped and were recaptured were beaten. The porters who refused to beat them or who
beat the escapee softly were beaten themselves.

Originally there were 100 porters, only 86 returned to Than Daung Army camp. He saw four porters
escape. He witnessed three porters being killed by the Burma Army soldiers. The remaining seven were missing and he believes they were beaten to death or left for dead. The youngest porter he saw was 17 or 18 years old and the oldest one was 53 years old. The oldest man was also beaten when he could no
longer carry his load.

He and the remaining porters were sent back to Toungoo Prison. In May 2004, 100 porters, including him, were sent back to Than Daung where they were under the control of Burma Army IB 39 and LIB 124. They stayed there for two days. On 13 May 2004, he and 29 other porters were forced to carry loads for Burma Army troops. When they were finished they were sent back to Toungoo Prison. On 18 June 2004, he was sent to Zaw Htaw Burma Army camp with Burma Army LIB 351 troops. The man in charge of the column was Captain Than Soe. On this trip, he had to carry the officer’s backpack, which held two large landmines, 20 large batteries, two bottles of I.V. infusion, and other medicine. They arrived in Zaw Htaw on 27 June 2004. On the way he observed most of the Burma Army troops being very brutal and beating the porters often. The porters were not given any water or allowed to go and find water. On the way, groups of five porters were tied together by their hands to they would not escape.

While they were walking with their loads, groups of five porters were tied together by their hands to make sure they didn’t escape. They arrived at Zaw Htaw Burma Army camp on 27 June 2004. He and two other porters were put in the kitchen. Around 11pm, the three of them ran away from the camp. On 29
June, he and the two other men saw a farm hut with villagers, where they were met by some KNU (Karen National Union) authorities. The authorities have fed and taken care of the porters.

He wants people to know that the way he was treated was unjust. If he really deserved to be in jail for three years, he would be happy to serve his sentence. He is angry because he was sent to the front lines as a porter. The load he had to carry was too heavy in relation to the amount of food he was given.
(End of Interviews)

Team departs XX and walks to XX X.

8 July 2004
Walk from XX  X to XXX X.

9 July 2004
Walk from XXX X to XX XX XX X.
Mission complete.

Team members conducted an after action review:
1) From the Team leader, “Thank you to everyone. Everyone did a good job.
Along with everything else, you gave love to the
people and that is the most important.” “The Shan, Karen and Karenni men and
women worked very well together and are a credit to their organizations.”
2) We need better communications (radios ,ect).
3) Solar Panels: Every team should have one. We need more solar panels,
connectors, batteries,  inverters, and power supplies for each team.
4) Time and Medicine are problems- not enough of each.
5) Need video head cleaners and clear lens protection for every team.
6)Need an umbrella for Video camera protection during the rainy season.
7)Medical supplies needed that were not available for this mission: more
water for injections, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, surgical blades, and small
suction bulbs for clearing infant nasal passages.