FBR REPORT: Arakan Relief Team Mission to Buthidaung and Paletwa Townships
Western Burma
March-May, 2007

In This Report

This report summarizes a relief mission in Paletwa and Buthidaung Townships of Western Burma during March to May of 2007. There is currently one FBR relief team working in this area. Buthidaung and Paletwa Townships are inhabited by a mixture of Ethnic Chin, Khumi and Arakan people.



FBR relief team providing vitamins to IDP children in Western Burma

We, the Arakan Free Burma Ranger team members temporarily formed two teams to conduct missions in IDP areas of Western Burma . Two trips were conducted between March and May, 2007, in which we were able to treat numerous patients. We assisted two children who suffered from eye problems and they improved as a result of the treatment. We were also able to provide over 520 children with Vitamin A supplements. One patient died of malaria during the mission.

Between early March and mid-April one team visited eight villages in Paletwa Township, and one team visited ten villages in Buthidaung and Paletwa Townships. We were able to visit some of these villages during the day as they are not located close to Burma Army camps, however we had to visit some of the villages at night, because they are located closer to Burma Army camps. Our team was able to give medical treatment, health education, a health survey and collect information on human rights violations by Burma Army troops. We also met with a number of IDPs and interviewed them regarding their history of displacement.

The IDPs we interviewed reported being subjected to forced labor, forced relocation, extortion, difficulty because of fighting between the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and the Burma Army. Some also reported having to move for economic reasons.

One of the main Burma Army camps committing serious human rights abuses is the Mrite Wa military camp. This camp is overseeing Burma Army control of the three village tracts of Mrite Wa, Pa Ka Wa, and Shwe Hlaing Pwe.

Health Situation

There are now about 15,000 IDPs along the Indo-Burma and Bangladesh-Burma borders. These people come from many different areas and villages so their histories are also different. These people have very little access to healthcare as there is only one clinic in the area, and this clinic rarely has enough supplies. Many people also live very far away from the clinic. The IDPs who are unable to make it to the clinic sometimes receive help from Rakhaing Community Health Worker Teams (RCHWT) and from our FBR team. Arakan Liberation Army medics try to provide treatment to villagers when possible.


Child suffering from skin disease

The primary illnesses we have come across among the IDP population are malaria, ARI, diarrhea/dysentery, eye problems, skin infections, worm infections, Anemia and malnutrition. We suspect that TB is also a serious problem along with several more difficult to diagnose illnesses.

We gave treatment as well as we could, providing basic medical treatment to people suffering from the aforementioned illnesses. We also fed vitamin-A and mebendazole to 270 IDP children who were under the age of 12. We also counseled IDPs and victims of human rights violations, as well as fed traditional Arakanese snacks to children who were suffering from malnutrition. To these children we also provided folic acid and vitamin-B complex.


Most of the IDP children we visited have no chance to attend school. Many children under 16 cannot read and write either in either the Arakanese or Burmese languages. There is only one school in the IDP area we visited, which is supported by the Education Department of the Arakan Liberation Party. There are 73 students in the school and two teachers. The students are from 1 st to 5th standard. Only children who live close to the school are able to attend. Most of the children live too far away to attend. Even some children who are close enough to attend must help their families grow crops in the hills and are not free to attend school. Many children we visited were enthusiastic to attend school, but had no opportunity to do so.

A number of villages in the areas of Paletwa and Buthidaung Townships we visited have small schools that are supported by village “self-reliance” projects. These schools only go up to the 4th standard, and education opportunities beyond this are almost non-existant.

Paletwa Township .

During our trip one of our FBR teams reached 8 villages in Paletwa Township.

1. Xxx Xxx Xxxxx
2. Xxxx Xx
3. Xxxx Xxx Xx
4. Xxx Xxx Xx
5. Xx Xx Xx
6. Xxxx Xxxxxx Xxx
7. Xx Xxx Xx
8. Xx Xxxx Xxx

We were not able to approach Xxxx Xxx Xx because a Burma Army Infantry Battalion is based there, however we were able to meet with villagers from Xxxx Xxx Xxwho were working in their fields. There are no clinics or pharmacies available to these eight villages. According to a village leader, since 1999 medics have only arrived in the area of these villages twice; once to give Polio medicine in 1999, and once for the prevention of f alariasis. The closest pharmacy to these eight villages is located at Xx Xxx, and was established by the United Nations Development Program in 2002. According to villagers there is one senior medic there along with two nurses, however villagers rarely go there because the medical treatment is not free, and villagers are too poor to pay for medicine. The pharmacy is a full day’s walk away and villagers must pay in advance for any treatment. At the pharmacy one tablet of Paracetamol is 100 Kyats and one 500 cc saline drip is 3,000 Kyats.

The villagers told the teams that during the construction of the clinic each family in the surrounding area had to provide ten bamboo poles, two wood poles, one bundle of roofing leaves, and 3,000 Kyats. Villagers faced arrest if they refused to pay or could not pay. Despite having to help build the pharmacy, most villagers still cannot afford to use it.

Only 5 households out of 51 in Xxx Xxxx Xx village have mosquito nets. At least 75% of the village cannot afford to purchase mosquito nets, and malaria has thus become a significant health problem in the community. Many villagers are also completely unfamiliar with basic health precautions which may help them to avoid serious illness.

Our team provided medical treatment to the best of our ability. We also provided vitamin-A and mebendazole to children under 12 and fed folic acid and vitamin-B Complex to weak and malnourished children.

Education Situation of Paletwa Township

The education situation in Paletwa Township is very poor. There is a primary school in every village except Xxx Xxx Xxxxx and Xxxx Xxxxx Xx villages, however these schools are simple villager self-reliance projects, are seriously under-funded, and many students can still not afford to attend.

In Xxx Xxx Xx village there are 35 students who attend the primary school, but there are still 20 children in the village who cannot attend the school because their parents cannot afford to support their children with books, pencils, and school fees. The school goes up to the 4 th standard and in 2007 had four graduates. These four children had nowhere to continue their education and must now help their families with farming. The situation is the same in the other villages of the township. Even though the Burma Army does not support any schools in the area of these villages, villagers were forced to help construct the school building and homes of the teachers at the Burma Army supported middle school in Dow Chaung Wa village.

Burma Army Troop Movement along the Indo-Burma Border

Until the middle of 2006 there were two Burma Army battalions rotating in Indo-Burma border area. An additional battalion was added at the end of 2006. The current battalions are IB 20, IB 34 and IB 289.

Village in Paletwa Township, forced to build a protective fence around the village


Villagers were forced to build fences and join village militia

Villagers have reported being forced to build fences around their villages using sharp bamboo stakes. Villagers must act as sentries to their own village. Those who refuse to do so or fail to report on certain activity face imprisonment, fine or other abuse. Rights violations such as this are becoming more common as the Burma Army presence is increased. The village tracts we visited reported being subjected to forced labor, forced relocation, portering, and extortion of food and money. Certain village tracts have been forced to provide the local Burma Army camp with more than 3 kilograms of chicken, 2 large bags of rice, and firewood. Burma Army troops receive these basic rations, along with beans, milk, sugar, fish paste, salt and chilis, however they sell much of it at town markets where they collect a high price for these goods. Burma Army troops will then demand the same goods from local villagers for a lower price, or for free. Many villagers reported having sold goods to the Burma Army soldiers without having ever received payment. Villagers are too afraid to ask for compensation.

Three new Burma Army camps have been constructed in the villages of Xxxx Xxx Xx, Xxx Xxxxx Xx and Xxx Xxxx Xx since the beginning of 2007. Because the camps have been built very close to the villages, Burma Army troops can monitor all activity in the village and demand labor and belongings at any time. Villages that do not have a Burma Army camp in them must often build houses to be used by Burma Army soldiers who patrol through the village. Villagers have also been forced to maintain the boundary marks along the Indo-Burma border and must act as porters when Burma Army soldiers patrol those areas at least 4 times a year.


  • Interview Date: March 17, 2007
  • Name: Xxxxx Xxx
  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: Rakhaing (Arakanese)
  • Religion: Buddhist
  • Occupation: Hillside Cultivator
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: one son and one daughter
  • Location: Xxxx Xxx Xx Village, Paletwa Township

Captain Xxxx Xxxxx Xxx from LIB Xxx at Xxxx Xxx Xx military camp force one person from each household in the village to dig a football ground in the village for at least three days a week, from Dec. 2006 to Feb. 2007. He told us that even if the head of the household could not do the work, that someone else would have to. Because of this work I did not have time to work in my fields, making it very difficult to get all of my farming done. No one was allowed to refuse this work.

  • Interview Date: March 20, 2007
  • Name: X Xxxx Xxxxx
  • Age: 38
  • Nationality: Rakhaing (Arakanese)
  • Religion: Buddhist
  • Occupation: Hillside Cultivator, village leader
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: one son and two daughters
  • Location: Xxx Xxxx Xx Village, Xxxx Xxxx Xxx village tract, Paletwa Township

There are 51 households in our village. Every household in the village had to pay 2,000 Kyat to the Foresty official who is in charge of the area where we cultivate our crops. His name is X Xxxx Xxx Xxx. Some years we must pay him 3,000 Kyat. We also had to pay 3,000 Kyat to build the Xxx Xxxx Xx primary school building. This year we also had to pay 3,000 Kyat for the Xx Xxx pharmacy which was started by the United Nations Development Program.

In addition, villagers have to provide 2 large sacks of rice and 2 kilograms of chicken every month to Captain Ray Linn Aung, Commander of Write Ma military camp. We also have clear grass and bushes from the boundary marks along the border as well as the paths that lead to them. Sometimes we must build new barracks at the local Burma Army military camp. We have no choice in these matters. This is the situation in which we live.

  • Interview Date: March 30, 2007
  • Name: X Xxxx Xxxx
  • Age: 50
  • Nationality: Rakhaing (Arakanese)
  • Religion: Buddhist
  • Occupation: Farmer
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: one son and one daughter
  • Location: Xxxx Xxx Xxxxx village, Xxxx Xxx village tract, Ponnagyun Township, Arakan State

X Xxxx Xxx Regiment Commander from LIB XXX claimed 11.8 acres of my paddy field in 2004. I had to plough the field for him and then he forced me to give him at least 7 baskets of paddy for each acre of the field.

In January 2007 I had to pay 600 Kyat to the Women’s Affairs Organization in Ponnagyun to pay for the women’s uniforms.

In February 2007 I had to pay for 10 Bamboo poles as well as roofing materials. I was then forced to pay 1,500 Kyat for the hospital in Ponnagyun.

Villagers from the following villages were forced to pay the same amounts as me.

1. Xxxx Xxx (300 households)
2. Xxx Xxx (50 households)
3. Xxxx Xxxxx (100 households)
4. Xxx Xxxx Xxxx (100 households)
5. Xxx Xxxx Xxxxx (50 households)
6. Xxx Xxxx Xxxx (50 households)
7. Xxxxx Xx Xxxxx (200 households)
8. Xxx Xx (180 households)
9. Xxxx Xx Xxxxx (100 households)
10. Xxx Xxxx Xxx (40 households )