FBR REPORT: People struggle to survive attacks in northern Karen State as villagers are captured and killed in central Karen State, Burma

Report from the field in northern Karen State

Karen State, Burma
29 January, 2008



Sick man in hiding, Toungoo District (Jan 26. 2008)

Since violently displacing more than 30,000 villagers in 2006 and early 2007, the Burma Army has not slowed in its aim of the complete occupation and domination of Karen State. Burma Army troops have used the significant expansion of camps and roads during the recent offensive as a springboard from which to launch frequent attacks against the civilian population. Homes and villages have been burned down, villagers shot and killed on sight, landmines laid, and crops destroyed. While these recent attacks are smaller in scale than the offensive of 2006-2007, for the Karen they are a continual pounding in the midst of a slow strangulation. People continue to be wounded, killed, and chased into the jungle while their homes and villages are burned down.

Much of the population of northern Karen State is now displaced, with more than 24,000 people still in hiding close to their old villages, and over 6,000 having already fled to the Thai border. For those remaining, continual attacks, patrols, and the close proximity of new Burma Army camps has made returning to villages and fields impossible. In some areas, such as Tantabin Township of Toungoo District, every single villager is an IDP. People are tucked into small valleys and stream beds, with baskets packed, constantly prepared to flee Burma Army attacks. Just today, the Burma Army mortared and machinegunned a vally near Saw Wa Der where IDPs are hiding. No one was hurt but many packed their belongings and prepared to flee again

For survival, IDPs must ration their most recent harvest, which for most families only lasts a few months, and rely on the ability to hunt and gather vegetables, as well as the small amount of food provided by relief organizations. The difficulty of this life has forced thousands to flee the area in hope of reaching refugee camps in Thailand. In eastern Tantabin Township, between the Mawchi and Busakee roads, there were over 4 thousand people, mostly in their villages, just three years ago. Now there are only 1,000 people, all in hiding.

In spite of this expansion of camps, roads and patrols that shoot on sight, the displaced people here remain steadfast in their hope for a better future and their struggle for freedom against Burma’s dictators. Everywhere we go families greet us with smiles and laughter. People thank us for coming to visit them and ask us to come again as soon as possible. At the same time they ask us for help and ask us to tell our friends around the world that they need help. They have told us, “If the Burma Army is not stopped, or we do not get help, when you come to Karen State in the future, there will no longer be Karen people. Please tell the rest of the world to help us.” The dictators of Burma have no interest in stopping the oppression of the ethnic peoples or of relinquishing their power, and until the dictators are stopped, no amount of food or medical relief is enough to solve the human crisis now existing in northern Karen State, Eastern Burma. The people here need protection from the Burma Army.

Thank you for all your care for these people, and God bless you,

The Free Burma Rangers in Northern and Central Karen State, Burma.
January 29, 2008. (Photos and a map follow)


Map of Burma Army Camps and attacks in Northern Karen State, Burma.30/1/08

Burma Army Kills One Villager and Injures Another in Yaw Kee Area of Mon Township, Nyaunglebin District.

On 1 January, Burma Army soldiers from LIB 704, under MOC 4, shot and killed Saw Bo La Gyi, 53,(please see photo below), from Yaw Kee* village in Mon Township, Nyaunglebin District, eastern Karen State. At the same time the Burma Army shot and wounded Saw Bo Wa, 32, also from Yaw Kee. Yaw Kee has been attacked multiple times in the last several months, and villagers have been living in hiding since their village was mortared and burned down in October. Villagers remain in hiding and, like Saw Bo La Gyi and Saw Bo Wah, live in constant fear of attacks and patrols, particularly when moving back to farms, gardens, and hide sites.

*Yaw Kee is sometimes spelled Yawchi


Saw Bo La Gyi, 53, from Yaw Kee village, shot dead by the Burma Army on 1 January, 2008.
Saw Bo Wah, 32, from Yaw Kee village, shot and wounded by the Burma Army on 1 January, 2008.


Photo Essay: Boy blinded by Burma Army landmine, villagers home’s burned, people in hiding, and relief teams in Karen State’s Toungoo District

Saw Hsa K’tray Saw, receiving medical care shortly after being blinded. (Nov. 2007)
Man from Laykee village shows the small crater left in the ground where the landmine exploded, blinding Saw Hsa K’tray Saw. (Jan. 2008)
the charred remains of a home in Laykee village, burned down by the Burma Army in August, 2007. (Jan 22, 2008)
Burma Army soldier at a new camp only one and a half hour walk from Laykee village. Burma Army soldiers attacked Laykee village from camps on their newly completed north-south road. They have continued to attack villages and build new camps like this one. (Jan 22, 2008)
A new Burma Army camp and section of the new road from their camp at Busakee in the North, to their camp at Ler Mu Plaw in the South. (Jan 22, 2008)
Burma Army troops from Div. 88 operating in Toungoo Districts. (Jan. 2008)
Family from Si Ka Der village, close to Bukee village, hiding from Burma Army attacks. (Jan 23. 2008)
The ashes of a home in Bukee village, Toungoo District, burned by the Burma Army on December 5, 2007. (Photo Jan 24. 2008)
body of a porter, forced to carry loads and shot and killed by the Burma Army in early December while they moved to attack Bukee village. (Jan 26. 2007)
villagers from Tha Eh Kee village, hiding from the Burma Army. (Jan 26. 2008)
providing medical treatment to IDPs from Ha To Per. (Jan 27. 2008)
Relief Team member distributing clothing and Good Life Club materials to children from Saw Wa Der and Ha To Per villages. (Jan. 2008)
children from the burned village of Bukee, after receiving Good Life Club jackets. (Jan. 2008)


Attacks in central Karen State, Dooplaya District:

Burma Army kills villager and combines with DKBA to destroy and extort villager property.

(Note: The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, DKBA are a proxy force of The Burma Army. This report was sent directly from the field by the Dooplaya FBR team now providing humanitarian assistance to people there.)

On 24 January, 2008 troops from Burma Army IB 231 arrested and then killed Maung Ga Shwey, the headman of Na Shwe Mo village. IB 231 is from MOC 12.

On 23 January, soldiers from DKBA battalions 907 and 999 captured two villagers from Mae Pla village in Kawkareik Township. They then beat them and demanded that they become DKBA soldiers or face two years in prison.

On 18 January, troops from Burma Army IB 231 and DKBA battalion 999 forced 17 villagers from Ta Pru village in Kya Inn Township to carry loads for them. The same day, they captured 3 women and 5 children from Ler Dwa village in Kya Inn Township. Their current whereabouts have not yet been reported.

On 17 January, Burma Army IB 231, LIB 545 and DKBA battalion 999 forced four villagers from Mae Pa Nya village, all of whom own saw mills, to pay 100,000 Kyats and 10 tins of rice each to their local battalion commanders. Soldiers then entered the village and stole more than 100 kg of pork from the villagers, as well as 300,000 Kyats from a villager named Ma Hpa Nwa.

On 24 December, 2007, troops from Burma Army LIB 407 entered Mae Naw Thaw and burned down huts belonging to seven villagers. Also in December, Burma Army soldiers and troops from DKBA battalion 907 burned down huts and property belonging to villagers from Pa Htraw Der and Aw Kaw villages