Killings and Intensified Violence by the Burma Army in Karen State, Spring 2022

18 May 2022

Karen State, Burma

*Contains Graphic Material

This spring the Burma Army has been increasing its attacks against civilians all over Karen State along with other states in Burma. Fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and the Burma Army intensified as the Burma Army launched a massive offensive in the eastern part of Dawna, Kawkareik Township in Dooplaya District of Karen State this spring. Casualties continuously occur on both sides, and sadly the KNLA lost one of their platoon commanders, Saw Than Htay, on 4 April 2022. Since the beginning of May, fighting has been reported happening every day in Win Ye Township of Dooplaya District. These areas are highly populated with about 1,000 houses per village. During the month of March alone, more than 82,000 newly internally displaced people (IDPs) were reported as a result of Burma Army attacks in Karen National Union (KNU) controlled areas in Taw Oo District of Karen State, only one of seven regions in Karen State. It can be assumed that the current total number of IDPs in Karen State is much greater, and rising.

The Burma Army continues to violate human rights by using military force to destroy villages, schools, livestock, vehicles, homes, and more. Not only are private and public properties destroyed in the path of the Burma Army, but civilian lives as well. Karen State Free Burma Ranger (FBR) teams are caring for and providing IDPs with medical care, food, supplies, prayer, and solidarity as they stay with them while Burma Army attacks continue. The following is an overview of incidents reported by Free Burma Ranger teams all over Karen State during the months of March and April.

Burma Army Human Rights Abuses

On March 5, 2022 the Burma Army camped at Pan Pun camp and shot mortars into three different villages killing seven people, four of whom were children. Six days later, after a battle between the KNLA and the Burma Army, the Burma Army opened fire, for no apparent reason, on two cars, burning them and the two civilian drivers inside them.

On March 13, 2022 in the K2 Battalion 5 area, the Burma Army killed a villager fleeing the fighting taking place around his village.

On the morning of 17 March 2022, a young man found himself alone in the jungle running for his life from Burma Army soldiers. The villager had reportedly left an IDP camp and gone back to his home in Thay Baw Boe Village to retrieve something. When two Burma Army soldiers saw him walking, they chased him through the jungle shooting at him. Fortunately the young man ducked and missed the shots at his head, but his back was injured. One of our Free Burma Rangers (FBR) relief teams was serving at the IDP camp when he returned and were able to provide emergency medical care for him.

On 18 March 2022 one of our FBR rangers who served as a medic gave his life while on his way to help IDPs in Karen State. He was shot and killed by the Burma Army. The full report on Saw Aung Htoo is featured below.

Loss of a Ranger: Saw Aung Htoo

On 23 April 2022 between 1:00-4:00 p.m. the Burma Army Light Infantry Unit 283 and 62 continuously shot with heavy weaponry (60 MM) to Ta-Khon-Tine Village, killing two villagers: a father and mother. The victims, U Saw Htun Htun (46 years old) and Daw Ye Lay Win (43 years old), were killed when their home was shot upon. They leave behind their five children.

Damage of house and killed victim from Burma Army attack 23 April 2022 in Ta-Khon-Tine village

On 24 April 2022, Mg Win Ko Ko Naing (20 years old) and his friend were riding their motorcycle in front of the Ta-Khon-Tane police station when they heard over 30 gun shots fired at them from the station. Mg Win Ko Ko Naing was severely injured on his wrist and hips. He was unable to be adequately treated at the local Maw-La-Maying General Hospital so had to be sent to Yangon General Hospital. A civilian driver in his car was shot and killed near them as well. The Burma Army had not announced any warnings or restrictions for this area, but simply open fired on civilians driving on the road.

On 29 April 2022 Burma Army Division Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 205 and the Burmese Border Guard Force (BGF) 1014, led by Commander Tin Win, arrested 50 villagers in Klen Kan, Wah Mee Pwa, and Shaw Poe Klar villages in Doo Thaw Htoo District. They proceeded to use these villagers as porters and shields during their reinforcement for Tar Paw and Lay Kay Burma Army camps. The same day, April 29th at 9:00 a.m. in Dooplaya District, the Burma Army blindly shot an innocent villager, Nan Moe Moe Lwin (23 years old) with an AR 15 rifle. Like many victims, Nan Moe Moe Lwin does not have sufficient funds to pay for her medical treatment.

Heavy fighting occurred near the town of Lay Kaw Kaw in Karen State on April 14th Myanmar Water festival because the Burma Army tried to invade an area secured by the Cobra Column. Besides artillery shelling by the Burma Army, they also attacked using MA14-84mm and Carl-Gustav grenade launchers.

An illegally imported MA14-84mm by the Burma Army.

Burma Army Attacks from Above

The Burma Army continues to use firing utility on civilians not only on the ground, but from the air as well. Burma Army fighter jets fired on education and cultural offices and a medical clinic in Mutraw District, Dwe Loe Township on March 13th. Later, near the end of the month on March 26th, Burma Army aircraft conducted six bombing and strafing attacks on Hti Ka Bler and Oo Grey Kee villages. Due to fear of being shot at again, 500 villagers from these areas fled into the jungle. One of our Karen FBR teams responded immediately the next day by going to meet these newly displaced villagers with drinking water, food and other relief. Meanwhile, another FBR team made their way to Dooplaya District to meet other IDPs with relief at Lay Ton Ku. FBR’s full report on the March 25th attack is featured below.

Burma Army Mortars and Airstrikes Kill a Karen Girl and an FBR Medic and Chase Over 500 People into the Jungle

On 27 March 2022 around 2:05 a.m. in Mutraw District, the Burma Army conducted airstrikes and dropped two bombs at Day Bu Noh. Two houses were damaged. Two other bombs were dropped at Htee Lay Kwee in front of Officers Training School (OTS). No one was wounded, but three buildings were destroyed.

On 1 April 2022 the Burma Amy used fighter jets and helicopters to attack homes and villages in Dooplaya District. A total of 139 villagers from 27 households fled to Se Pho Khi Village on the Thai border from Palaw Hta, Sukali, Keita Ho, Keita Oo and Kapalekwi villages near Mingalar Chung Village in the eastern part of Dawna, Kawkareik Township.  FBR’s Dooplaya team leader worked with the KNLA to provide food and shelter for these people.

On April 10, 2022 there was heavy fighting in Dooplaya District, Kawkareik Township between the Burma Army 44th Division and KNLA coalition troops. The Burma Army used fighter jets and helicopters to fire approximately 30 airstrikes. These airstrikes damaged homes in some parts of Lay Kay Kaw town. More than 20 members of the Burma Army were killed and a captain from the 44th Division was captured alive. There were both civilian and KNLA casualties as well.

Burma Army jet during the airstrikes in K6 on April 10, 2022.
House damaged by dropped bomb in Day Bu Noh on March 27, 2022.
House damaged by dropped bomb in Day Bu Noh on March 27, 2022.

FBR Teams Respond with Help, Hope, and Love

On April 8, 2022 an FBR team in Dooplaya District went to Hserpoekee to share support with 165 newly displaced people from Bawbawkho Plawhta Sukali Kweitahoe and Kweitaau. In addition to sharing aid, FBR teams continue sharing the message of good life through Good Life Club (GLC) programs with IDPs in Karen State. During the end of March, FBR teams went to share help with 800 villagers who had fled beyond Karen State and are now living in make-shift shelters hiding along the Burma-Thailand border. Many still lacked basic resources like food, water, and shelter. Despite difficult living conditions, children smiled while FBR rangers sang, played, and laughed with them them during GLC programs.

On April 20th the Doo Tha Htoo FBR team went to meet IDPs hiding in the jungle from fear of fighting between KNLA and the Burma Army in their home areas. The FBR team provided medical care and aid, and stayed with them as they sought out other ways to help. These villagers are from the Billin Township villages of Car Man, Tar Paw, Ler Klaw, and Lay Kay, and Thaton Township Lah Ko Maw Klo Village.

Providing aid to IDPs in K6 on April 8, 2022.
Young girl during GLC program.
IDPs along the Burma-Thai border April 2022.

Civil war rages on, lives are lost each day, IDP numbers rise, yet the Karen, like so many others across the country, refuse to give up or give in to Burma’s oppressive military rule. David Eubank, founder of the Free Burma Rangers, thanks all of our friends and supporters as they pray for us. Eubank also shares, “And we thank God that, in spite of these attacks, the people have not given up helping each other. We believe a new Burma is being built, with God’s help, by love and perseverance.”

Thank you and God bless you,

Free Burma Rangers