Saw Oo Nay Mya, age 44, was shot by Infantry Battalion (IB) 250 of Military Operations Command (MOC) 7 on 2 February 2011 in Toungoo District, Northern Karen State. The commander of this unit is Major Hla Tun. Saw Ler Maw, age 22, from Hkler Lah village in the same district was killed by MOC 9 on 22 February 2011.
Starting from the middle of January 2011 the SPDC has been increasing its activity in Toungoo district. Currently, the Burma Army has 3 Tactical Operations Commands (TOC) in the area. These troops have been moving food along the car road from Hkler Lah camp to Bu Hsa Hkee camp. During this process the Burma Army has been using prisoners from Toungoo and Insein Prisons as forced labor. The movement of food is possibly a sign of coming attacks.
|Saw Oo Nay Mya killed by Burma Army, 2 February 2011|
|TOC 1 commander Myo Min Oo|
Burma Army activity
The Burma Army currently has 3 TOCs under MOC 9 in Toungoo District. Light Infantry Battalions (LIB) 375 and 376 from TOC 1 have been transporting food from Hkler Lah to Bu Hsa Hkee using more than 100 trucks. Along the car road, MOC 7 is providing security for MOC 9. The military equipment of these troops includes M-81s, RPGs, machine guns and sniper rifles.
|Burma Army trucks to transport food|
|Burma Army soldier with sniper rifle|
|Burma Army Soldier carrying RPG|
Human rights abuses along the car road
All the way from Hkler Lah to Bu Hsa Hkee, Burma Army troops ordered villagers to drive their own trucks on the road to check for landmines. After that, the Burma Army’s own trucks would follow. Because this landmine-sweeping job was very dangerous, no one wanted to do it. The villagers drew lots to decide who would have to go. To transport food, the Burma Army used 70 prisoners from Toungoo Prison and 70 prisoners from Insein Prison in Rangoon. The Burma Army used these prisoners to carry heavy loads. Prisoners who could not carry the loads were beaten by the soldiers. One of the prisoners escaped and reached the area under control of the Karen National Liberation Army (local pro-democracy resistance), who gave him permission to find his way home.
In addition to this, 40 villagers from Hkler Lah were forced to transport food by SPDC MOC 9 by motorbike from Hkler Lah to Koh Day on 18 January 2011. The same day, 140 men and women from Klaw Mee Der area were forced to carry food along the road from Pa Leh Wah to Klaw Mee Der and act as human minesweepers by IB 102. On 11 Feb 2011, 5 men from Play Hsa Lo were forced to carry loads and act as minesweepers between Play Hsa Lo and Tha Pyin Nuint by IB 102. The unit’s commander is Myint Thine Win.
Finally, during these operations the Burma Army has blocked the car road from Toungoo city to Hkler Lah camp. By doing this, the Burma Army has prevented villagers to go to the city to trade.
|Soldier walks behind prisoner porter|
|Prisoners subject to forced labo|
|Prisoners subject to forced labor|
Burma Army strategy
The motive of BA for this increased activity in Toungoo District is still unknown. However, one possibility is that it is a sign of coming attacks in the area. The large shipments of food – needed for prolonged activity — are a strong sign for this. Still, the food movements are on a small scale, making it difficult to come to a firm conclusion of the military’s intentions.
Further abuses in other areas
In Papun District, the Burma Army is using forced labor to transport supplies from the Salween River.
|Burma Army forced labor along Salween River|
God bless you,
FBR Toungoo District teams