FBR REPORT: Arakan Mission Report
Arakan IDPs treated like slaves as forced labor increases
20th June, 2005 to 22nd August, 2005
Karen State, Burma
27 October, 2005

  Free Burma Ranger Report on
  • Arakan IDPs treated like slaves as forced labor increases
  • Relief team documents Burma Army killing and looting
  • Report warns of spiraling IDP needs
  • Junta sells donated UNICEF text books to villagers

Arakan IPPs

Arakan IDPs searching for safety inside Burma’s jungle

  1. Critical Information
  2. Executive Summary
  3. Human Rights Abuses
  4. Interviews
  5. Relief Distribution
  6. Conclusion
  1. Critical Information ^ top  
  • Mission Dates: 20th June, 2005 to 22nd August, 2005
  • Prepared by FBR Arakan team
  • Mission area: Western border of Burma in Arakan IDP area
  2. Summary ^ top  

The FBR Arakan relief team spent two months researching the plight of IDPs who are hiding from the Burma Army in South West Burma. The team also carried out humanitarian work, including health care, the distribution of medical and educational supplies, prayer and counseling to IDP villages.

The team collected a catalogue of evidence of on-going violations of human rights including the destruction of homes and hiding places of villagers, looting and killing. The team also discovered an increase in forced labor, reversing a two year decline in the use of forced labor.

Conditions for the IDP were found to deteriorate further in areas where fighting between the Burma Army and the Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) continues. Most of the IDP areas are deep inside the forest, isolating them from external assistance and ensuring that farming is difficult.

The report concludes that the people are suffering grievously under military rule. The subjugation of the rule of law is very dangerous. Burma Army commanders act with impunity and use villagers for whatever they want including building Battalion structures, making bricks or fetching firewood. It is a modern and brutal form of slavery – 200 years after Wilberforce supposedly abolished this iniquity. 

  3. Human Rights Violations ^ top  

During the mission, the relief team learnt of repeated violations of human rights by SPDC troops at the Northern Arakan and Southern Chin States.

Looting and Extortion

At present, Burma Army Battalion No. 20 is based at Sittwee, the capital city of Arakan State. From this base, the troops are able to demand money from all the citizens for their own income.  One team led by CPT Aung Kyaw Than, from LIB No. 20 of the Burma Army, were demanding 10,000 Kyat in cash from villagers from a farm on the mountain which is located near the India border.  Another example was from ten villages who were forced to give 10,000 Kyat each to buy a solar plate for second General Aung Kyaw Thain – the duty officer of Mari Wa Camp, from LIB No. 20 during July 2005.

Cash for Books Scandal

The relief team also discovered that text books donated by UNICEF and intended for the education of IDP children are being exploited by Burmese soldiers. Troops are selling donated UNICEF exercise books to students for 600 Kyat. The price is extortionate and preventing some IDP schools gaining the resources they need.

Forced Marriages

Women are suffering as some girls are forced to marry soldiers. Families are told that if a soldier marries their daughter, they will be exempt from participating in forced labor.  Other women are raped during Burma Army operations and then are conscripted into forced labor by military regime commanders.

Torture, Arbitrary Arrest and Execution

Following a battle between Arakan Liberation’s Party’s Tsunami troops and the Burma Army, some villagers were arrested and tortured. Those arrested included the wife of the President of Nywe La Wa Village.  Due to the fact that his family owned several paddy fields, cows, pigs and other livestock, the military accused him of having contact with underground groups. The President’s wife was later ordered to be shot dead. 

  4. Interview ^ top  
  • Name –           Khai XXXX
  • Age     –           33
  • Father –          Hla XXXX
  • Education      Class 6
  • Mother            Naw Ben Leh
  • Place              XXXVillage, KyaukTawTownship, Arakan State, Burma
  • Occupation   IDP

Khai XXX is a former IDP living at the Indo-Burma border, located n the western part of Burma. His native township is KyaukTawTownship. He left his native village in 1997 because he was conscripted into forced labor, building the

Kyaw Taw Palawa Road

. He was also used by LIB Battalion No. 536 which is located near the Dawn Dawn Youk village and he was forced to collect  bamboo and firewood by the LIB Battalion, No. 536.  His life in Burma was very difficult – he had nothing and so fled to the Indo-Burma border. At present, there is no work to do so it continues to be very difficult for him to be able to survive and build his life.  However, he does not want to go back to his home while Burma military rule persists.

  5. Relief Distribution  

The team also made an assessment of the health and educational needs of the Arakan IDPs.

a) Health – the team reported that the IDPs were suffering from many preventable diseases including Malaria, Cholera and Dysentery. However, there are no medical clinics or health workers working with these people.  The one clinic in the region is not accessible during military operations and therefore many IDPs are dying from untreated diseased.

b) Education – the only education available to the IDPs at present is up to a primary level. The few IDP schools are protected by ALP troops. However, the schools do not have sufficient teachers, books or other materials due financial problems. Talented students want to progress to the next level of education but there are currently no teachers able to teach at this level. This is a big problem for the IDP students.