FBR REPORT: Burma Army Attacking Karen Civilians in Western Karen State, Burma, 800 IDPs
Karen State, Burma
27 November, 2004

The Burma Army  is now attacking Karen civilians in Western Karen State, Burma. These attacks have displaced over 800 villagers (IDPs*), who have fled into the jungle with very little food or clothing. The Burma Army is burning homes, rice barns and has destroyed over 2,000 baskets of paddy rice. These attacks are occurring in Naunglybin District, Western Karen State, from November 14, 2004 and continuing through 27 November 2004.

* All of the villagers in this area are Internally Displaced Persons- IDPs, and had recently moved back into this area to reestablish the homes and fields that they had lost in 2000. They are now in hiding again.

20 November 2004. Blind IDP woman in the Ya Aung area. When they fled, one of her sons carried her and the other son carried their food to the IDP hide site.
20 November 2004. Family from the Ya Aung area in their hide site in the jungle.

House burned by Burma Army on 18 November 2004 in the Ya Aung area, Naunglybin District, Karen State, Burma.


Burma Army Attack:

At midnight, 14 November 2004, four Burma Army Battalions (LIB 589, LIB 350, IB 57, LIB20 and one troop from LIB 264) launched attacks against villagers (IDPs) in Hsaw Htee Township, Naunglybin District, Karen State, Burma. The four battalions divided into two forces and launched simultaneous attacks in the Ya Aung area and the Htee Blu area. They have burned over 30 homes, destroyed over 2,000 baskets of rice, looted homes and livestock , and have driven over 800 people into the jungle. Most of the people had only a one hour warning that  the Burma Army was coming and fled in the middle of the night with few possessions or food. Many were sleeping in their fields during this harvest time and could not return to their homes at all. The food situation is the most critical now and the IDPs have used up all the food they were able to flee with. Disease will begin to be a problem as these people are crowded into two hide sites in the jungle with limited space and water.

The Burma Army is now occupying the high ground near the abandoned villages and continues to burn rice barns and homes as well as to eat the livestock the villagers had to abandon when the Burma Army attacked.

Possible attacks to the North:

In addition to these attacks there are unconfirmed reports that the Burma Army is planning a similar attack against Karen civilians in Ler Doh (Kyauk Kyi) township, Naunglybin District- north of the current attacks in Hsaw Htee township.
Ler Doh Township- There has been a troop buildup and the Burma Army is possibly going to attack in this area. Eight porters who were forced to work for the Burma Army escaped from this area and provided this information.


A Joint KHRG and FBR Team Made the Following Report:

14 November 2004-Ya Aung area, Hsaw Htee Township, Naunglybin District,
Karen State, Burma. Four full battalions from LIB 589 commanded by Saw Awe, serial number 20198, LIB 350 commanded by Tha Nine, serial number 18971, IB 57 commanded by Aung Ko Lak, serial number 27151 and LIB 20 and one troop from LIB 264.
All troops started their actions on 14 November 2004 from Shweygyin.

A message was received on 14 November at midnight that the Burma Army troops were headed their way and at 1 am the villagers were alerted and started to move.

15 November 2004- Many IDPs, including women and children, had to flee. All of the IDPs are worried about staying alive, because all of the food they could not take with them was burned by Burma Army troops. They expressed that they don’t know how or where to get medicine, blankets and clothing or how to treat the IDPs who are sick. They have to cook between 6pm and 4am because they are worried that the Burma Army troops will see the smoke of their fires during the day and find their hiding place.

There are  women who are pregnant and close to giving birth staying in the IDP hide sites and if they have to stay much longer will give birth in the jungle. The weather is getting colder and there has been some rain. The IDPs
don’t have enough clothing or blankets to stay warm as a result of having to leave their homes and farms so quickly. They are also under constant pressure to always be ready to move if the Burma Army troops come near their
hiding place. Food, shelter, health and security are their biggest problems right now.

19 November 2004–
A man from Nya Lee Pu village in the jungle was looking for his wife,as they had been separated when the alert went out. He was able to find her a few days later.

The troops went from the Shweygyin River to Su Mu Hta, and then to Ya Aung area (three villages in this area are Ya Aung, Ger Hee Day, Nya Lee Pu). Altogether more than 400 IDPs had to flee from these three villages and are still hiding in the jungle. Some of the villagers believed in the cease-fire and so they stored their paddy at their farms. Even many storehouses of paddy in the jungle have been burned down by Burma Army troops.

20 November 2004–
The team met with villagers who carried rice to the IDPs. The team visited the IDPs  from the Ya Aung area. They had no blankets, no clothing, no plastic sheets, and the villagers said to the team, “We only have five days
of rice remaining. We don’t know how to get enough food.” The villagers were suffering from malaria, diarrhea, hepatitis and other illnesses.

21 November 2004–
It rained in the area this night. The children and other IDPs had no plastic sheeting and insufficient shelter so they got wet.

22 November 2004 Htee Blu Area–
There are close to 500 IDPs in this area. The four Burma Army battalions and one troop separated and are in both the Ya Aung area and the Htee Blu Area.

On 22 November 2004, Burma Army troops burned paddy farms in this area. The troops also saved enough paddy near their camp to supply the Burma Army troops with rice.

On 23 November 2004, the Burma Army troops went to Doo Pa Lay and burned down paddy and villagers’ houses in that area. The troops burned down the farms and killed the villagers’ animals for their food.  This area is NW of Su Mu Law River and so the villagers who had fled (and live across the river in an area the troops hadn’t arrived yet), were able to return to their farms in the evening, collect their paddy, thresh it and hide it in the jungle. The IDPs are hiding in the jungle and are afraid.

A crying villager told the team, “I was very happy about my leaders making a ceasefire and believed in it. I made a large farm and now I have lost everything.”

(A relief member comment- ” To compare my people to something would be comparing them to animals in the jungle. If I compare their lives to a dog in a town, the food for the dog is more than for the people in the jungle. I do not want to see them living like that any more.” He went on to say, ” I also gathered all of the IDPs and prayed for them. Some of the villagers lift up their lives to God and depend on God because they can’t do anything. I told them that when we see clouds in the sky, the rain will often come, but after the rain the sky is clear and the sun will come out again.”

Another team member feels very sorry because his people are suffering from the Burma Army doing bad things and the people have lost all their belongings. He can’t do anything even if he wants to because he has nothing.The one thing he can do is pray for the IDPs.