Burma Army Uses Mortars and Aircraft to Terrorize Villagers in Dooplaya District, Karen State

25 January 2022
Karen Stare, Burma

The Burma Army has increased its activity in Dooplaya District in southern Karen State, using helicopters, jets, and artillery in attacks on farms and towns. Random attacks are disrupting daily life, wounding civilians, and sending thousands into hiding. A 9-year-old blind boy was wounded by shrapnel in one attack. In another, two elderly farmers were making breakfast in their field hut when a mortar landed next to them; both were wounded, one seriously. Homes, churches, monasteries, and schools have all been targeted and damaged by these attacks, which seem to have no strategic purpose except to terrorize the local population. The local resistance and local community organizations, including Free Burma Ranger teams, are taking care of wounded villagers and trying to provide security and warning for villagers, as well as get the news out to the rest of the world. Below are detail reports from the last month received from the Dooplaya District FBR teams. This accounting of attacks and activity is from teams in a specific area and does not represent an exhaustive account of Burma Army activity.

Nearly 20,000 people have fled and left entire villages abandoned. The newly displaced people have put a strain on already overpopulated IDP camps, while some have gone to other villages and others are hiding in the jungle. There is an increased demand for shelter materials, medical supplies, and food. The Karen Ranger team has been active in the area. They are supporting clinics treating the local population and relocating them when the Burma Army moves too close. They are supporting the new IDP population, helping them reach safety, providing aid when needed, and documenting the villagers that have been displaced. Amidst this conflict, the team was also able to document one case of unlawful arrest and torture. They also are investigating and reporting on the unlawful arrest of two civilians. The team has been documenting both mass displacement and individual instances of capture, detainment, and torture.

Villagers Fleeing Kudo

22 January 2022: villagers from Thone Sel Thone Su village in Kawtari Township (this village is just beside the river of Jer Ya Klo) ( Haung Tha Raw – In Burmese) fled across the river to Noh Ta Kaw Township. One woman was seen carrying a disabled boy in a wheelchair. 

On 22 January 2022, the village of Kudo was displaced by the Burma Army.

22 January 2022: The Karen Ranger team reported that there are 27 abandoned villages. The Burma Army has moved close to these villages and all the residents have fled in fear.

Nan Shwe Mon village after being abandoned

20 January 2022: Burma Army, Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 231, and other combined units burned down a house in Ma Nar Kone village, close to An Hpa Kyi Village, Kawtari Township. The Burma Army arrived at night and a Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) sniper shot and killed three Burma Amry soldiers. In response to this, the Burma Army burned down a home. The owner of the house has not been identified.

The Ranger team completed a reconnaissance using a drone and confirmed that the Burma Army is still occupying the village. They have captured villagers who could not flee and are interrogating them for information.

19 January 2022: Saw Htun Lin, 21 years old, fled fighting in Ywa Thit village, Kawtari township, on 7 January 2022. He returned to the village on 18 January 2022 to search for his parents. He was arrested by soldiers from the LIB 231. They also arrested his friend from An-Pha-Lay village. Saw Htun Lin’s father, U Myint Aung heard about his arrest on 19 January 2022. He then reached out to our deputy in Kaw-Kareik for help.

15 January 2022: In the morning the FBR team made a plan to go and get pictures and gather evidence of Burma Army mortar shelling that hit a villager’s house.  On the way, they crossed through Ywa Thit Village, and the Burma military launched several mortars but they injured no one. Then Karen National Liberation Army commander asked the team to help them evacuate and treat the wounded soldiers. The team helped them until noon. At this time, the team received news that a jet was taking off from the city so, the team moved back. The plane arrived at about 12:15 pm and began shooting. There were two jet fighters shooting but no one was injured. The jet flew over Ywa Thit, Ta Mine Kone, Peh Tha Raw Doo, and others villages. At the same time, he Burma military never stopped firing mortars.

13 January 2022: The Karen team sent to Lay Kay Kaw area gave medical treatment to the refugees in Oo-Kray-Hta refugee camp. Most of the refugees were diagnosed with sneezing, headache, cough, eye diseases and hypertension.

The team reported that there are 126 houses and a population of over 800 people in Oo-Kray-Hta camp. 

Ou-Kari-Hta refugee camp
Ou-Kari-Hta refugee camp

12 January 2022: A battle occurred outside of Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) 907 camp. The people sheltering in Captain Salone camp were forced to relocate to the Thaung Yin River. This location was deemed unsafe and over 1000 people were forced to relocate to Thailand. 

It is currently time to harvest but being displaced has forced farmers to lose their crops and any money that would have come from the sale. They have also lost the ability to harvest seed to plant for next year. This is devastating for the farming community.

11 January 2022: The Karen Ranger team reports that there are 10 IDP camps. However some of the internally displaced persons that fled are currently sheltering in the jungle alongside the Thaung-Yin River. In many cases the IDPs don’t have access to basic needs such as food, water and shelter. Others are hiding in the jungle at night and returning to harvest their fields in the day.

Below are the respective populations of eight IDP camps

  • Phalue IDP camp: 2472 population
  • Kyauk Khat IDP camp:  622 population
  • Thaw Baw Boe IDP camp: 371 population
  • Lu Khoe Hta: 352 population
  • Sone Si Myaing: 40
  • Ukaritha:797 population
  • Min Lat Pan: 509 population
  • Saw War Kaly: 123 population

10 January 2022: The shelling by the Burma Army caused a rubber farm in Ywa Thit Village to catch fire. No homes were damaged by the shelling.

On 10 January 2022, at 2:00 pm, two Burma Army helicopters flew around Ywa Thit, Mi Ka Than, and Peh Tha Raw Doo (Myo Houng – in Burmese) villages in Kawtari Township, Dooplaya District. They were in the area for about 30 minutes and fired 30 shots. The helicopters withdrew at 2:45 pm. Later, the Ranger team divided, with one group going to reconnoiter the Burma Army artillery position and the other going to help rescue a wounded individual. On the way to the rescue, another helicopter flew over, shooting. The helicopter had come from Mawlmine City, from the Southeast Command Headquarters base.

On 10 January 2022, at 9:15 am, a Burma Army helicopter flew around over Hpar Pra (Hpar Pya) Village, Win Ye Township, Dooplaya District. It flew very low over the village. 

On 9 January 2022 at 8:00 am, two villagers from Peh Tha Raw Doo (Myoh Haung in Burmese) Village, Kawtari Township, Dooplaya District, were wounded by Burma Army 120mm mortars. The names of the wounded are: Tee Pan Aung, 64 years old, and Tee Kwe Nu, 64 years old. Both men are farmers. Both were wounded while they were cooking breakfast under their farm hut. A120mm shell impacted to the side of the hut. Tee Pan Aung was badly wounded and Tee Kwe Nu was also struck. Now they are receiving treatment at a local Karen National Union (KNU) clinic.

9 January 2022: The Burmese military using an attack aircraft bombed Maw Toh Ta Lay area. The images below are of the unexploded ordnance.

Unexploded Ordinance

8 January 2022: The Burmese military used 120mm mortars and shelled the monastery at Peh Tha Raw Doo Village. The monks were hiding under a building next to the monastery. No monks were injured but the building was damaged.

Monastery after it was shelled

7 January to 9 January 2022: The Burma Army LIB 97 based in Hlaing began to shell with 120mm mortars towards the area of Kawkareik town. They launched 30 mortars. The next day, the shelling began at 8:00 am and they shelled 40 times throughout the day. They appeared to launch everywhere they could reach. The villagers of the area fled or are hiding in the forest. Seven villagers from Maun Ma Ywa Thit got injured and three of them were badly wounded and sent to a local Karen National Union (KNU) clinic. Villagers from Peh Tha Raw Doo fled and took shelter in Aww Ler Village. Shelling began again the morning of 9 January 2022.

The images below are of civilians wounded by the shelling:

Ranger helped carry Tee Pan Aung to the clinic.
A blind child was also injured in the shelling. Here he is seen with his mother and the wound to his shoulder is visible.  

8-9 January 2022: the Burmese military used superior firepower and heavy weaponry to advance all the way to Yar Thit and Phayar-Kone village. They met the KNU, 18 soldiers. During this engagement, the Burma Military (BA) captured Mg Soe Myin, from Mi Ga Thi Phayar Kone located between Ywa Thit and Mi Ka Thi villages. 

Mg So Myin and his friends were on their way to a monastery when they encountered and were detained by the Burma Army. The soldiers asked Mg So Myin questions relating to his training, where it was received, who administered it, and how many people had been trained.  

The Burma Army tortured Mg So Myin. He was restrained, bruises from ropes bound on his wrists. Burns were found over his entire body. He was beaten with fists, there are bruises on his chest, arms, neck, and legs. He was also beaten with a metal bar, the skin on his shins are gone and he had several internal injuries from being beaten. He was detained without food for four days. 

The KNU was able to force the Burma Army to retreat. Mg So Myin and others, including his friend, were left, still bound. They needed to use knives to cut through their bonds before they could run. He was separated from the group and fled to his grandmother’s house. From there he fled to the refugee camp at A-Pha-Gyi monastery.

Mg So Myin’s sister, Mi thida, said “Mg Soe Myint was active and healthy but now he is suffering.” Mg Soe Myint is now also diagnosed with insomnia and anxiety.

7 January 2022: The Burma Army LIB 284, based in Kyainn Seikyi, shelled and hit the high school in Ta Kart Klo (Burmese: Kya Kart Chaung) Village, Noh Ta Kaw Township. There was no fighting in the area. 

30-31 December 2021: The Burmese military fired 120mm mortars at a church compound in Ya Thit Ku Village, Kawtari Township. The explosion damaged some parts of the church.

30-31 December 2021: the Burmese military fired heavy machine gun rounds 12.7mm which impacted next to the monastery in Ya Thit Ku Village. The villagers were sheltering under the building to escape the shooting and no one was injured. 

23 December 2021: The Burma military fired 120mm mortars into Ya Thit Ku Village, Kawtari Township, and into Ma Aye Myint house compound.

17 December 2021: The Burmese military put a landmine in a villager’s house in Mae Taw Ta Lay Village. The owner of the house is Ko Si Thu.

December 15 2021: The Burma Army lead an offensive in the area of Lay Kay Kaw, Maw Hotth Talay, Ya Thay Gu, Phalue. They conducted four airstrikes to support the reinforcement of their positions.

15 December 2021 the Lay Kay Kaw battle began in Maw-Htoth-Talay, Ya Thay Gu, PhaLu Gyi, Phalu Lay, Thaw Baw Boe, Ukarihta villages. This fighting displaced villagers from: Kyun-taw, Ingyin Myaing, Kwee Mu Nya, Sakhan Thit, Mal War Khee, Min Lat Pan, Ka Saw Warlay, Balledoh, Shwe Aye Myaing. Most of the villagers are sheltering along side the Thaung-yin River and some have fled to Thailand. The influx of new refugees have caused aid shortages in Phalue camp, Bo Salone camp, Kasawarr Lay Camp, Kyauk Khat camp, Thaw Baw oe camp, Sone Si Myaing and Ukaritha camp, Wall Lay camp. Medical supplies, food and shelter have been provided by NGO but it is insufficient. 

Thanks and God bless you,

Free Burma Rangers