The Burma Army has continued its violent campaign to force villagers into hiding or relocation sites in northern Karen State, Eastern Burma, using continuous attacks and patrols, a shoot-on-sight policy, the deliberate destruction of any means of life, forced labor and the severe restriction of villager activity in areas under its control. Villagers have remained steadfast in the face of this abuse, and with the help of one another, local leaders and relief teams, they have been able to remain in their homeland. The situation remains very difficult for most villagers in the mountains, many of whom have been hiding in the jungle for more than a year. Those hiding are finding it more and more difficult to do so as a result of the expanding network of roads and army camps throughout northern Karen State. Villagers who live in the plains are finding it difficult to survive because of the Burma Army’s restriction on movement, and numerous demands for forced labor. These attacks and displacements are part of a larger pattern of displacement in the Karen State. This is the latest phase of the offensive beginning in February 2006, which has now displaced over 30,000 people.
|Burma Army forces villagers to carry supplies in Nyaunglebin District. June 2007|
|New Burma Army camp at Mae Laut in Shweygyin (Hsaw Hti) township. June 2007|
|Burma Army soldiers from LID rotating out after being stationed in Papun District. June 2007|
|House in Paytu, which was forcibly relocated close to Kyauk Kyi in June 2007.|
|Another home in Paytu. Villagers were forced to tear down their homes before leaving.|
|Villagers must now live in huts such as these at the relocation site. Land and building materials are insufficient at the new site and villagers are often not allowed to leave the fenced in enclosure. Those who wish to continue farming must pay large sums for passes back to their farms.|
Burma Army captures four villagers in Mon township, kills three
On 7 July, soldiers from Burma Army LIB 378 and 388 captured four villagers from Blut Doh village while they were retrieving food from their rice barns. The Burma Army demanded that the four villagers show them the way to Wah Do Ko village (Saw Ka Der area), but three of the men refused. Burma Army troops then shot and killed the three who refused, but spared Saw Xxxx Xxx Xxxx, who agreed to lead them. After five days of captivity, during which Saw Xxxx Xxx Xxxx had not been fed, one of the Burma Army soldiers who was following him stepped on a landmine. In the confusion of the explosion he managed to escape. He then made it to the location where villagers had been hiding from the attacks of LIB 378 and 388.
The three who were murdered are Saw Htoo Htoo, Saw Mya Doh Moo and Saw Po Eh Doh.
On 9 July 2007, while these same troops had entered the area of Saw Ka Der village in Mon Township, forcing 223 people into hiding. During the attack, Burma Army troops burned down and destroyed more than 20 paddy barns, 66 fields of paddy rice, 117 beetle nut farms, and other gardens. The Burma Army constructed four new small camps in the area of Saw Ka Der during these attacks. On 15 July, LIB 379 replaced troops from LIB 378 and 388 at their camp at Wah Do Ko.
|Example of field house burned by the Burma Army in its attempt to make life impossible for Karen villagers. This field house was burned in May 2007 by Burma Army LIB 216 in Shweygyin Township.|
|Woman fleeing attacks in Kyauk Kyi Township in May 2007.|
On 25 July, troops from LIB 589 shot and killed one porter and one villager in the area of Maladaw village in Mon Township. It is unclear why the porter was shot and killed. The villager, Saw Tha kler, 27, was tending to the Durian fruits in his orchard when troops approached and shot him without question.
Two days later, on 27 July, Burma Army troops under MOC 9 shot and killed Saw Henry, 29, while he was carrying rice back to his village. Saw Henry was from Hti Kgo village in Mon Township. He was shot at noon and died at 8:30 p.m..
On 20 July, LIB 590 commander Ko Ko Mo, demanded money from three villages in Mon Township:
1. Myaw Oo 100,000 kyat
2. Paw Pi Der 200,000 kyat
3. Aung Chan Tha 200,000 kyat
On 1 August, the commander of LIB 351 ordered villagers from Kyauk Pyat to relocate. If they did not immediately relocate they were to pay 340,000 kyat as well as 8 tins of rice per house. Villagers have not yet moved.
On 3 July, LIB 22 entered the village of Kaw Ka and demanded 40,000 kyat from the village. The same troops entered the village again on the 27 th, demanding a tax on the charcoal being produced in the village. Burma Army troops then threw 40 bags of charcoal into the nearby river, tied up the two charcoal traders and physically assaulted them. The two men are Xxx Xxx, 23 and Xxx Xxx Xxx, 25.
A dam has recently been completed on the Shweygyin River and has flooded more than 3,000 acres of orchards belonging to Karen villagers. Villagers have not received any compensation for this loss of property.
Burma Army IB 57, based at Bawgata, is now demanding 50,000 kyat from the operators of boats and cars that are transporting materials from Bawgata to Shweygyin and 5,000 kyat from boat operators moving from Bawgata to Taler Bay Hta. On 25 July, the commander of Rokasoe military camp, under LID 11, gathered local business people and demanded 30,000 kyat from each man to pay for medicine for his soldiers. He then demanded another 50,000 kyat for his own family.
On 30 July, two villagers from Kyauk Kyi (Ler Doh), one aged 30 and one aged 12, were looking for bamboo shoots close to the village of Sa Le when one of them stepped on a Burma Army placed landmine, immediately losing his foot. The Burma Army then fined each of them 10,000 kyat.
On 17 July, troops from Burma Army TOC 1 of LID 11 replaced TOC 3 in their front-line camps. Each TOC has three battalions.