We are sending this report directly from the field. It begins with a summary of the situation followed by photographs and an update of the situation from Nyaunglebin District, Western Karen State, Burma. 9 November 2007
The Burma Army has now maintained almost two years of unceasing attacks in Karen State, beginning in February of 2006 and still continuing to this time. The Burma Army’s most recent offensive in northern Karen State has killed over 370 men, women and children and displaced over 30,000 people, most of whom are now in hiding. Over 33 new Burma Army camps were built in the areas of Papun, Nyaunglebin and Toungoo districts in 2006 alone, with over 52 new camps by January 2008.
The slow but unrelenting attacks and building of new camps seem to be driven by a plan to dominate, chase out or crush any people in these areas. This was the largest offensive in Karen State since 1997. It began in February 2006, with troops from over fifty battalions attacking through the rainy season, and the construction of 10 new main camps and 42 smaller support camps. The Burma Army is now completing the construction of two new roads that effectively cut the northern Karen State into quarters.
The disruption of their food production, burning of their homes and the shoot-on-sight orders of the Burma Army have made staying in their homeland untenable for thousands of people. Of the over 30,000 displaced, over 5,000 have already left their homes for the Thai border.
The Burma Army is currently attacking IDP hide sites in the Ler Wah area of Nyaunglebin District.
The people in this area have fled to new sites but there are indications that the Burma Army may continue their movement further east and thus be a threat to more IDPs.
|Burma Army troops from Muthey moving to Paw Key Ko, 25 September
|Burma Army using forced labor by making porters carry supplies, 25 September
The MOC commander and TOC commanded with forced porters, 25 September
|Villager from Pay Tu Sa Leh in forced relocation site near Ler Doh town, 25 July
In Nyaunglebin District (Kler Lwe Htu) over 36 men, women (including a pregnant woman) and children have been killed by the Burma Army. Of the over 400 porters used in this area, over 20 have died. There are over 11,000 displaced people in all three townships. This number varies from 5,000-11,000 depending on Burma Army activities. *as of Dec. 2007
In Shweygyn and Kyauk Kyi townships, 9 villagers have been killed and 2,000-6,000 displaced depending on Burma Army activities.
In Mon Township 27 civilians have been killed and over 5,000 people displaced. Of the people displaced in Mon Township, over 1,500 IDPs are north of the Mon River, over 1,600 IDPs are south of the Mon River, 1,000 are in other districts and over 1,000 have gone to refugee camps or IDP safe sites out of the district. Also, since February 2006, 27 villagers have been killed and 4 wounded in Mon Township alone by the Burma Army.
Five villages have been burned in Mon Township. This does not include the many field houses and rice barns burned as well. Landmines were then placed on trails and in the remains of the villages themselves. Of the villages not burned, 7 village tracts of 21 villages have been completely abandoned while many in the 7 remaining village tracts have had over half of their people flee and not return.
The Burma Army has established 28 new camps (4 main camps and 24 small camps) in this area. More roads are now being planned in Mon Township between Tha Byin Nyu and Busakee.
(Note: This letter was sent out earlier this week by the FBR Nyaunglebin team and is included in this more comprehensive report. The letter was delivered to the FBR team by villagers relaying the letter from a forced relocation site in Nyaunglebin District, Western Karen State, Burma at the end of September 2007. The names of villages and villagers names have been changed to protect these people from reprisals as they are still trapped in the Burma Army forced relocation site. The Burma Army has forcefully relocated thousands of people in Eastern Burma with over 100,000 people in over 100 forced relocation sites. )
To: Our leader/responsible person
Subject: Information about our situation.
“First of all, I thank God for this opportunity to express my village’s situation on behalf of all the villagers.
We, the Tha Kaw Tha Kae villagers, have been living on the frontline and facing many difficulties. Because of these difficulties, many of the villagers have passed away but some still live by the grace of God. We had lived in the Tha Kaw Tha Kae village for 43 years without having to move when, suddenly, on June 3, 2007 our village was forced to move for the first time.
In the place that our village relocated we could not work and could not make money. As a result some villagers only stayed one and half months, then returned back to their home village. The Burma Army wrote these villagers permission to go, but the villagers had to pay 1500 kyat twice a month in order to be allowed to stay.
Our village headman took a census and, as of June 5, 2007, the total number of families was 50. Based on the census, the village headman arranged a school for the village children. We had a primary school with 40 students and 2 school teachers. We, the villagers, paid 20,000 kyat per month for the two teachers. We started our school on June 13, 2007 and held classes for 55 days. However, we had to again move suddenly on August 7, 2007.
This time we had to move to the Doo Dah relocation site. We again set up school in Doo Dah and all teachers continued teaching at this relocation site. However, many villagers had no work and no food. The villagers that did not have bullock carts could only bring the belongings that they could carry to the relocation site. They had to leave many things behind. The Burma Army went to the village, took the belongings that were left behind, and sold them. The villagers that fled had no time to rest, despite heat and rain, so they faced many health problems. They also had trouble getting enough food for their families.
Now, in the new relocation site, we have no place to build our houses and we have to live with other people. We must continue to be patient. Even though we stay in the relocation site, we have to find our food by returning and working secretly in our home village. We have to do this secretly since the Burma Army no longer permits us to return.
We, the villagers, are oppressed by the Burma Army in many ways. Because of this, many villagers face health problems and many pass away. Due to the lack of medicine, the following people have died:
- Pu Ta Ku
- Saw Pwo
- Ma O La
- Naw Ku Paw
- Saw Kyaw Aye
- Saw Kyaw Kyi
- child no name
- child no name
According to the information we mention above, we beg our leaders to help us and to send this information to world.” -On behalf of the Tha Kaw Tha Kae villagers, Saw Tha Moo La-
Thank you to all who care for these villagers and others in Burma who live under oppression.
Your love and action brings hope.
God bless you,
Nyaunglebin Free Burma Ranger Team
Nyaunglebin, Karen State, Burma
8 November 2007
Message of encouragement and unity from the Karen in the Karen State for the demonstrators in Burma. 27 September 2007:
This message was also sent earlier- directly from the Karen people in the Karen State of Eastern Burma to the demonstrators in the cities of Burma on 27 September 2007.
“We the Nyaunglebin District, Karen State, Free Burma Ranger team, Karen Women’s Organization, Karen Youth Organization (FBR, KWO, KYO) work for freedom and democracy and for our people. Therefore we support the demonstration groups in Burma in the current situation.
According to the demonstrations in Rangoon and all over Burma, on behalf of the Nyaunglebin District FBR, we now send this supporting letter to you. We strongly stand together and support the demonstrating groups.
In Burma the Monks are expressing the desire of the Burmese people by peaceful demonstration but the SPDC Regime is using weapons to attack and kill the monks and the people. The SPDC want only to hold on to power. This is a very ugly and bad thing that is happening.
As the world is against the terrorism, we too feel the same and resist the SPDC regime of terror in Burma. This is our firm stand and we call on all to pray, act with courage and never surrender in our struggle for democracy and freedom.
This is our message of support from the Karen people here in the Nyaunglebin District of the Karen State. We will do our part to continue the struggle and share with you the same goals”.
May God bless you, lead you and protect you,
Your Karen brothers and sisters of the Nyaunglebin FBR, KYO and KWO.
27 September 2007
Karen of Nyaunglebin District, Karen State from the FBR, KYO, KWO.
Thank you and God bless you,
The Nyaungklebin District, Karen State, Burma
Free Burma Ranger Teams