The relief team reported that the mission was successful, although Burma Army troops blocked the team throughout the mission. One villager who helped carry supplies for the team and was nearly captured by Burma Army troops on his way home after the mission. He was able to escape. He had wounds from a rifle butt and scratches from thorn bushes.
The team was able to hold computer, video, GPS and map reading training. The team also monitored the Burma Army troop movements in the area.
The team treated villagers along the way and gave gifts to the children. They treated dysentery patients to prepare for the backpack medical workers who would arrive soon after the team.
Interviews: Summary Execution, Escaped Prisoner Porters (Dooplaya District April 23 – May 20, 2005)
1. Summary Execution
Date of interview: 9 May 2005 The interviewee is the son of Saw T.D. Saw T.D. was killed by the Burma Army.
On 28 April, Saw T.D., a member of the township agriculture department (Karen National Union- KNU) as well as a township Karen Agriculture Workers Union committee member was questioned by a column of Burma Army troops (IB 83). He was badly tortured and then executed by that column.
Q: Could you tell me what happened on 28 April?
My father and my younger sister (14 years old) went out to dig roots at about 7 o’clock in the morning. Then, soldiers from the Burma Army IB 83, Division 88, arrived. They tied my father up and took him to our village. When they reached the front of our house, the soldiers called out to me, and asked whether he was my father or not. I replied that he was my father and the soldiers ordered me to guide them to our field.
At the field, the soldiers asked me to show them the guns. I replied that I had no idea what they were talking about and then they turned to my father with the same question. He did not respond. The soldiers started kicking, punching and hitting him with a branch of wood. His face was smashed; his neck and chest were badly hit, and his penis was burned and sliced. They also put the knife in his mouth and twisted. But my father said nothing. After several minutes, an officer of IB 83 signaled them to stop and asked my father to cooperate. He told my father that there was a rank for him in the Peace Troops (an armed faction allied to the State peace and Development Council SPDC). However, my father still did not say a word and the torture started again. Some of his teeth fell out. At last, the officer ordered soldiers to search around to find the guns. They found two rifles after a long search and happily returned to the officer.
Then two officers went far away from us and spoke quietly. My father signaled for me to come close and he said, “Never forget the revolution.” Then he did not speak again. He just looked straight at my face. After that, he was taken away by soldiers and I was ordered to go back home. Within a few minutes I heard two gun shots. I knew that he had been killed. I was not harmed. It seemed like they had very detailed information about our family.
2. Escaped Prisoner Porters
Name: T.N. (male) Age: 25 years Nationality and religion: Arakan, Buddhist Education: Grade 6 Date of interview: 1 May 2005
I am a farmer from K P village. My income was low, as my rice field was only 3 acres. In April, 2003, my friends and I talked about trading cows with Bangladeshi people. I bought two cows and went to Bangladesh by boat. The boat had 62 cows on it.
On the return trip, our boat was stopped by a navy boat and then it was announced that we all were under arrest. We were sent to the police station and there all of my money, including my watch and clothes, were confiscated.
Then we all were charged with illegal departure/entry and smuggling goods. On April 24, 2004, the court sentenced me to three years imprisonment with hard labor. The prison had around 670 prisoners including about 20 female prisoners. There were eight buildings for prisoners. I had to work in the vegetable farm everyday.
There was a prisoners’ work camp called Kyee Kan Pyan. That camp had about one hundred prisoners working in stone crushing plants and rice fields. No one wanted to go there.
There was no prison doctor but if needed the prison authorities called a doctor from Bu Thee Taung hospital.
On January 27, 2005, forty five prisoners including myself were told to serve as front line servants to the Burma Army. We were sent to the Sittwe prison on that day. Seventy five prisoners from Sittwe joined us and were taken to Rangoon by trucks. During the trip, our legs were chained. From Rangoon, we were sent to Moulmein prison. We spent three days there. There were 380 prisoners to be sent out to area Burma Army operations.
After three days, troops from the Burma Army LIB 416 came with trucks and took twenty five people, including me. I slept one night at a monastery where there were many Burma Army soldiers.
On the next day, at around 7 a.m., we were ordered to each take a basket. My basket was full of rice and weighed about 15 viss (24kg). We walked for about 9 hours. On the way, many prisoners were exhausted and fell down again and again. We were given no water, but if we crossed streams, we drank. At noon, Nga Meh (over 50 years old) could not walk anymore. Soldiers beat and kicked him again and again. A corporal punched his chin hard while he was lying on the ground. Finally, soldiers called an ox cart from a village and let him lie on the cart. We arrived at the camp at about 5 p.m. It was the front line headquarters of the LIB 416.
Later, we went with Burma Army columns which patrolled nearby. Nga Meh was treated with medicine, but his chin wound got worse and at last he was sent back to Moulmein. I stayed there for about two and a half months. The only food we had was bean soup and rice. By the end of March 2005, a column went for an attack on the KNU- Karen National Union and I was with them carrying ammunition. In one place, they surrounded the KNU and started shooting with guns and mortars for 15 minutes. Then they cleared the place and got two rifles, some bags and hammocks. The soldiers were very happy and shouted that they were returning home very soon.
Later, I asked about their return and a sergeant replied that they got guns from the enemy and according to protocol; the battalion would be rewarded permission to go home early. I asked if the return included us or not and he replied the battalion would hand us over to the next battalion.
Out of 25 prisoner servants, there were only 10 left and others managed to escape. I decided to run away from the camp. In the first week of April, I silently left the camp and headed to the East. Soldiers threatened that if KNU found us, they would kill us.
However, in prison I heard that the KNU would give me assistance if I told them the truth. At last I arrived here (KNU controlled area) and am working for villagers to earn enough for my return trip
Name: Hla K.M. (male) Age: 45 years Marital status: Married with 3 children Nationality and religion: Arakan, Buddhist Education: Primary Date of interview: 5 May 2005
I was a rice trader and was arrested by a navy boat while returning from Bangladesh. In September 2004 I was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for smuggling goods on articles 52/53.
In January 2005, we were taken to Moulmein prison from Sittwe prison. There, the Burma Army LIB 416 arrived and took us. Among the prisoners from Sittwe, T. T. (a man about 40 years old) had a hernia and the soldiers did not take him. But later, they returned and took him.
Starting from a monastery, we had to carry baskets for the Burma Army soldiers. My basket had 6 mortar shells and about 15 kg of rice. Around noon, we were all exhausted. My legs became swollen and it was very difficult to walk. A medic treated me with some medicine. A corporal kicked and pushed me to make me continue walking. Later, an officer called Capt. Zaw Myo Aung told the corporal not to beat the older prisoners.
However, Nga Meh, (a 54 year old man, imprisoned for theft), was beaten badly. He could not get up off the ground after the beating. At last the soldiers called two ox carts and put Nga Meh on one. His load was shared among the other prisoner porters. The soldiers’ bags were put on carts.
Lunch that day was served with dried fish, but I could not eat. I just tried to drink more water from streams we passed.
We all reached the base, called Payar Ngotto. Then column (1) took 10 prisoners and I was among them. Sometimes column (1) patrolled for 5 or 6 days and I had to carry supplies and walk with them. When column (1) rested in the base, we had to build buildings, fences and trenches.
Nga Meh’s wound on his chin was very difficult to cure. He had diabetes. His chest pain was also severe, and at last he was sent to Moulmein to get treatment.
We were with the Burma Army soldiers for two months and many prisoner porters escaped during that time. During the Water Festival (mid-April) there were only four prisoners left, who were all over 40 years old. At night time, we were tied and in day time had more work to do. I had to carry water, collect firewood, cook food for soldiers and wind the radio. Around April 25, LIB 416 started preparing for the return to their Headquarters. I begged the solders to release me, but they refused. Then about 130 soldiers from IB 10 arrived and all the duties were transferred over to them.
I had to go on patrol with IB 10 two times. The loads I carried were heavier and I was getting weaker, so I decided to flee from the camp. T.T., who suffered from a hernia, was still in the camp, carrying loads. But I decided to leave alone as T.T. could only walk slowly.
On 3 May 2005, when the soldiers from IB 10 returned from a patrol, I had a chance to leave while the soldiers were talking. I crossed fences and went outside the camp. I walked alone the whole night and on the next day, at about 10 a.m. I reached a village. I was sent to one of the village leaders and he arranged for me to stay with a family