Burma Army Seizes Year’s Food Supply from Villagers in Eastern Burma and Clashes Erupt as Burma Army Advances in Violation of Ceasefire
28 December 2019
Bago Division, Burma
On 21 Dec. 2019, Burma Army Infantry Battalion (IB) 39 seized 150 sacks of rice from four villagers in Saw Mee Lu (east of Kyaukkyi) Bago Division. The order to seize the supplies came from Major Myo Ko Ko, the deputy battalion commander for IB 39.
The next day, the village tract leader wrote a letter to the liaison office and sent a copy to Karen army units in the area. The letter explained that the Burma Army had taken the food and kept it at their camp all day and night. Even if the Burma Army decided to return the food, the villagers would not take it for fear it would have been poisoned. The letter also asked for the Karen leaders to arrange food for the families.
The villagers had traveled from the Muthe area to Kyaukkyi to buy a year’s worth of food supply, which included rice, cooking oil, and fish paste, for their families after their own crops were destroyed by rats. They had then hired a driver to take them back to the Muthe area.
The Burma Army soldiers stopped the group and seized the food without explanation but released the villagers and truck driver. Locals in the area believe the stop-and-seize matches statements made by the Burma Army on Dec. 9 which blocked civilian travel and included instructions to immediately shoot anyone, day or night, seen traveling on the Kyaukkyi-Pa Kaw Hta road.
Clashes Erupt As Burma Army Advances in Violation of the National Ceasefire Agreement
At 8:50 a.m. on Dec. 26 a clash happened between Karen soldiers and Burma Army soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 350 at Thwe Boe Plaw, one of the Burma Army camps built earlier this year. Another clash happened at 11:30 a.m. with LIB 350 after they arrived at Pa Kaw Hta.
The same day, Burma Army IB 75 arrived at Ee Tha Plaw, a Burma Army Camp. IB 75, along with LIB 350, came to the Muthe area to reinforce IB 57 and LIBs 589 and 590, bringing the Burma Army battalion count to seven units in the Muthe area.
Karen Leaders and Burma Army Officials Meet in Kyuakkyi
On Dec. 27, Karen leaders and Burma Army officials met at the liaison’s office in Kyaukkyi to discuss the road construction. The groups determined they needed further discussion about troop repositioning in the area and where troops can or cannot go under the National Ceasefire Agreement. They also agreed that they needed to talk to the local population to hear what they do or do not want in relation to the Kyaukkyi-Pa Kaw Hta road construction. A plan was made to meet again on 10 Jan. 2020.
Burma Army Division Commander Myo Win, Operation Commander Nya Zaw Oo, and Colonel Kyaw Soe Moe were three of the Burma Army officials who attended the meeting. Col. Kyaw Soe Moe served as the TOC 2 commander last year.
During the night on Dec. 27, LIB 350 fired indiscriminately around the Pa Kaw Hta area to clear the area.
LIB 598 is now at Maw Law, a hill beside the road in question at the border between Bago Division and Karen State.