The following is complete report of a relief mission to the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Northern Karen State, Burma. From 3 January to 31 January 2005, the mission provided emergency relief for over 4,000 people, including 3,488 patients receiving medical treatment.
In This Report:
#1) A message from the relief team leader that summarizes the situation.
#2) Daily log
#3) Current IDP situation
#4) Update and brief analysis
#5) Road construction by the Burma Army in this area
#6) Reports of human rights violations and Forced Labor by the Burma Army in this area.
Thank you to all of you who care for the people of Burma and for your help.
God bless you,
a FBR team leader
Mother and child IDP in hide site
#1) MESSAGE FROM A RELIEF TEAM LEADER:
Toungoo District, Northern Karen State, Burma. 1 February 2005.
We just completed a relief mission to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Toungoo District, Karen State. In addition to the reports and photographs we have been sending, I wanted to add this message. I want to write what is on my heart, what I have seen with my eyes and felt with my hands. We try our best to be objective when we send our reports from here in the field and we also want to make sure the human element is apparent. Bad things are being done to fellow human beings, now, and oppression and attacks continue. In spite of this, these people still try to survive and hold on to faith, love and hope.
The Burma Army continues its campaign of oppression in this area; attacking villages, murdering people, forcing people to carry loads and labor for them, and building roads. Because of attacks by the Burma Army, Toungoo District has over 20,000 IDPs.
While our team was in Toungoo District in January 2005, we heard that 440 villagers were in hiding following an attack by the Burma Army on 26 December 2004. We had brought with us medical supplies, clothes, educational and school supplies, bibles and hymnals for people who asked for them, toys for children and clothes.
It was night when our team walked into the place where the villagers-now IDPs- were hiding, and the first thing we noticed was about 50 people standing in a small clearing under the night sky. Some had candles; some had lit pine pitch and were holding them up so they could see. When we walked in there was silence at first and then when we said “Na La Gwey” (“Good Night”), they suddenly surged forward smiling, laughing, and grabbing our hands. They kept saying “Da Blu, Da Blu” (“Thank you, Thank you”), and “Thank you for coming”. It was wonderful to be so loved and welcomed but at the same time I felt sad and worried. Did they think we could save them? Did they think we were the beginning of a good change in Burma? We could not save them and as for change, we can only hope that we are a small part of that positive change.
I felt compassion and a love for these people. I wanted to help them, protect them, and make sure they could go home. In reality all we could do was love them, remind them they were not forgotten, give them temporary relief and tell their story. We could shine a light, however small into their situation. That night the team went and visited with some of the IDPs sleeping close to us. None had real shelter, most of the families just lay on the ground sharing blankets. Some slept under trees with a lean-to of leaves over them. The scene looked very desperate and pathetic. Fathers and mothers had been stripped of their ability to take care of their children in a safe home. The elderly sat around small fires, trying to stay warm.
The next morning we set up a medical and dental clinic and distributed relief supplies and clothes. I began to take pictures and as soon as I did, parents came up and thrust their children up to me. They wanted me to take their pictures and they had a real urgency about them. It was as if their children would not count if their picture were not taken. I kept taking pictures.
The team treated patients and conducted surgery on one man who had been badly beaten by the Burma Army. As the day went on the IDPs became happier and happier and we all began to feel a closer relationship. Everyone sleeping together and eating together meant there were no barriers, physical or mental. We talked with two villagers who had lost their legs to Burma Army landmines and to a 13-year-old boy, who had been shot in the arm by the Burma Army when he was 5 years old. His arm was still badly scared.
We talked with the father of one of the two men the Burma Army had captured and killed when they attacked the village in December 2004. We also met the sister of the other man taken at the same time. She said she misses her brother but heard that he is dead and is very sad. She is married to a man who has two bullet wounds from an earlier SPDC attack that left two of his friends dead. He smiled at me and said, “I am a farmer, this is our land, we have to try”.
One of the things that struck me most was the positive attitude of the people and their resiliency. They smiled, joked and tried to give us food they had been saving. The local medics were also amazing. This was a group of five young Karen women who traveled with us while we were in Toungoo District. They were all in their early twenties, pretty and full of energy. We had to walk over many mountains (the mountains in Toungoo District go over 8,000′ and valleys down to 1,000′) and these ladies did this in rubber slippers. It was cold every night and they all huddled together in one group, sharing blankets and living no better than the IDPs. While moving, we were often very close to SPDC outposts and patrols and one morning I asked the nurses if they were afraid of the Burma Army. “Yes, we are very afraid”, they answered. “But we want to help our people, we want to help our Karen Nation, so we try”. They smiled and said they were happy to have this chance to serve. We were inspired by these women and their presence brought a real peace to the IDPs. Everywhere we went it was the same, the local people were full of energy and hope and believed that one day change would come. In the mean time they would work hard, pray and hope people in the outside world would come and help. But they told me, “We do not put our faith in the world or other nations, we have our faith in God,. so we have hope”.
En route to this IDP hiding place we stopped at many other hiding places as well as villages that had been rebuilt after attacks by the Burma army. We provided relief to as many as we could and treated a total of 3,844 patients.
In spite of the close presence of the Burma Army, every village and IDP site were full of people who had not given up. They kept their belongings packed every day and were ready to flee at a moments notice, but they had hope and have not given up on their homeland. Thank you to all of you who pray and help. You are real answers to our prayers and the prayers of the people here. We always tell them that there are many who love them and enable us to help.
Thank you and God bless you, A Free Burma Ranger
#2) DAILY LOG:
Total Patients: Jan 6-31,2005 (jan 6-18= 2,236, jan 19-31= 1,252)= 3,488 patients treated
* Muthraw District.
*** Toungoo District
*3 Jan-6 Jan: Movement in.
* 6 Jan: Treat patients: 174 patients total. 6 Dental
* 7 Jan: Team moves to T.H. village. Treat patients: 88 medical patients treated.
Conduct surgery on a man whose nose, upper lip and gum were slit open by a knife. Surgery in Muthraw District, Karen State, Burma. January 7, 2005.
Medics suture a Karen man whose face was split open by accident with a knife. The medics put the patient on a intravenous drip, gave him local anesthesia and then sutured the inside of this man’s mouth and upper gums. Then they sutured his lip and nose. After the operation the patient was given antibiotics and sent to a mobile clinic a 1 day walk away. The relief team was en route to provide relief to IDPs in Toungoo District, Northern Karen State, Burma.
*8 Jan: Move to NY. En route treat patients: 70 patients
*9 Jan: Church service at NY. Treat patients: 49 patients.
*10 Jan: Treat patients: 174 Move to K. Treat patients (96 patients, 8 dental) and give gifts to school.
* and *** 11 Jan: Move to Lk. Treat Karen patients (78 patients) and Karenni IDPs who fled Burma Army attacks and are now hiding in Karen State.
***12 Jan: Move to B. Treat patients (73 patients) including a over 100-year-old man who fought for the British in WWII.
***13 Jan: . Move to Kly. Treat patients: 50. Support School, Church and KWO.
***14 Jan: Move to H area (89 patients). Treat patients.
***15 Jan: H Area, treat patients (469 patients, 19 dental) and support school and church.In N S, Tantabin Township, Toungoo District Northern Karen State, Burma, on 15 January 2005, the SPDC forced women to porter loads.
Burma Army battalion IB 73 forced four Karen women from KTD village to carry loads for them to their camp at Naw Soe. At 0700 am on 15 January 2005 Burma Army troops from IB 73 forced four Karen women, Naw Xx, Naw Xx, Naw Xx, and Naw Xx)* from KTD to carry food supplies to the Burma Army camp at Naw Soe. KT D is located vicinity; E 096 49 N 18 55. There is a Burma Army camp here adjacent to the village and the road to Busakee. Naw Soe Burma Army camp is further south along the Busakee road, vicinity E 096 49 N 18 51.
*Names changes for the protection of the villagers. Their real names are on record
***16 Jan: Move to Ha To Per IDP site. Treat patients: 434 patients, 5 dental Support school and local church.
***17 Jan: Move to SWD IDP Site. Treat Patients. Sister of villager captured by the Burma Army with her husband who was shot twice by the Burma Army. In IDP hiding place, Toungoo District, Karen State, Burma. Naw Xx’s brother who is a father of six children, was captured and reported killed by the Burma Army on 26 December, 2004. Her husband (pictured), was shot twice by the Burma Army when they attacked his village in June 1998. His two friends with him at that time, a father and son, were shot dead.
***18 Jan: SWD IDP site. Treat patients: 392, 35 dental
Surgery: Team medics perform an operation on a man injured in the face with a knife and surgery to remove a large mass on a man’s back. This last was the result of torture by the SPDC and looked like a large (8 inch x 6 inch and raised 3 inches on the margin and 4 inches in the center) hematoma. It turned out to be more complex than that and in the end it could not be removed. medics kept him alive, sutured him back up and prayed. now the patient is fine, walking around and smiling.
Karen children in IDP hiding place, 18 January 2005. These children and their families (400 people total) are in hiding from Burma Army patrols. The Burma Army attacked their village on 26 December 2005, capturing and reportedly killing two men. The Burma Army then looted the village and are still patrolling the area. The villagers are afraid and are still hiding but have lost their homes and possessions. Families sleep on the ground in the jungle. Night time temperatures are now dropping to the 40s Fahrenheit and this is very cold for those sleeping with no shelter and few if any blankets.
***19 Jan: SWD IDP site. Treat patients and supply rice, cooking oil, vegetables and meat to IDPs.
***20 Jan: Move to PBD IDP site.
***21 Jan: Move to IDP school and local administration site. Treat patients, support school. Forced portering continues and has now intensified as the Burma Army is re-supplying its camps along the Toungoo-Mawchi road and Toungoo-Kler Lah-Busakee road.17 Burma Army trucks, two carrying over 60 porters and the others carrying supplies arrived at Kler Lah(Baw Gale Gyi) Burma Army camp on 21 January 2005 at 3pm. The Burma Army is now re-supplying it’s camps on the Toungoo-Mawchi and Toungoo-Kler La-Busakee roads. There is ongoing extensive use of forced labor to clear the roads and carry loads.
***22 Jan: “” “” “”The Burma Army is now re-supplying it’s camps on the Toungoo-Mawchi and Toungoo-Kler La-Busakee roads. There is ongoing extensive use of forced labor to clear the roads and carry loads. Team meets with the wife of one of the men captured and reportedly killed by the Burma Army on 26 December, 2004. Her husband and one other man were captured when the Burma Army attacked her village (SWD), on 26 December, 2004. Both men have been reported as killed by the Burma Army. The village was looted and the 440 villagers are now in hiding in the jungle.
***23 Jan: Move to KNLA camp.
***24 Jan: Move to WMPK IDP site. Treat patients.
***25 Jan: Move to K S. (In Nyaunglebin Diistrict) On 24 January Burma Army Battalions on the Toungoo-Mawchi and Toungoo-Kler Lah- Busakee road forced villagers to carry loads to two of their camps.
1) Forced portering by Burma Army on 24 January 2005. Villagers from Ga Mu Der village (on the North side of the Mawchi road west of Tha Aye Hta Burma Army camp), were forced today to porter for the Burma Army. IB 439 Column #1 Commanded by Aung Tin Win forced four villagers (Saw Xx, Saw Xx, Saw Xx and Saw Xx) to carry supplies from Kler Lah (Baw Gale Gyi) to their camp at Tha Aye Hta.
2)On 24 January 2005, LIB 73 forced Kaw They Der (Yee Tho Gyi) villagers to carry supplies to Naw Soe Burma Army Camp. The names are Naw Xx (woman), Saw Xx, Saw Xx, and Saw Xx.
*26 Jan: Move to move to BLD. Treat patients, move to KP.
*27 Jan: Move to NP.
*28-30 Jan: Movement out. Mission Complete. 3,488 Patients treated total. Most common diseases: Malaria, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, skin diseases, diarrhea, vitamin deficiency and anemia.
Message from a FBR relief team in the field. January 14, 2005.
#3) CURRENT IDP SITUATION:
There are over 20,000 IDPs total in Toungoo District Northern Karen State. Almost every village has been attacked at one time or another and even those able to return to their villages are forced to flee again and again.
The Burma Army attacks and loots a village, captures and reportedly murders(bodies not yet found) 2 villagers, and continues its practice of forced labor and repression of Karen people in Toungoo District, Karen State, Burma. January 14, 2005.
New IDPs: There are now 400 new IDPs as 70 families flee an ongoing operation by the Burma Army. There are 400 new IDPs hiding in the Saw Wah Der area of Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Northern Karen State. This is southeast of the junction of the Toungoo-Mawchi and the Kler Lah-Busakee roads. Vicinity N 18 53 E 096 50. On 26 December, 2004 Burma Army Battalions IB 73 and LIB 439 attacked Saw Wah Der village, looting the village and capturing two villagers. The other villagers fled into the jungle. Two villagers captured were two men; Saw Ta Tam 38 yrs, with a wife and six children and Saw Tu Kru, 40 yrs . These two men were taken to the Burma Army camp at Kaw They Der. They have been reportedly executed but there is still no confirmation as of this date. The rest of the 400 villagers are in hiding now as the Burma Army Battalion IB 73 is aggressively patrolling this area. The villagers of Saw Wah Der as well as other IDPs from Yaw Tha Bei and Wah Baw Kee who had fled earlier are all in, scattered in small groups in the jungle. Rice is running out and weakened by exposure, many are sick with malaria, respiratory infections, diarrhea and typhoid.
Earlier attacks: While many villagers have been able to return to their villages since the December 2004 attacks in west of the Kler Lah-Busakee road, some are still in hiding in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Northern Karen State. In addition to these attacks the Burma Army continues its oppression of civilians along the road running north to south from Kler Lah (and Yeh Tho Ley),east of Toungoo, a spur road off the Toungoo-Mawchi road), to Busakee, Toungoo Distinct. Forced labor, beatings and other human rights violations are now occurring in this area.
#4) SITUATION IN NORTHERN KAREN STATE AND A BRIEF ANALYSIS. Jan 3 05.
This is written to try to give a picture of what is happening here in Northern and Western Karen State, Burma. Recent Burma Army attacks, road building, and relief efforts are outlined. (A more detailed description of relief efforts is available on request.)
Introduction: Despite cease fire talks the Burma Army continues it offensive against the Karen people and the KNU in this area. Attacks are also ongoing in Southern Karenni State. There are 5 main areas of SPDC activity at this time:
1) The offensive against civilians displacing 4,781 people, burning homes and rice stocks and the building of three new Burma Army camps in Shweygyn Township, Nyaunglebin District, Western Karen State. November 14, 2004 – 3 January 2005 (Attacks have now stopped but the occupation, building of the new camps and displacement of the population are ongoing).
2) The attacks against Karen civilians in Toungoo District, Northern Karen State, have displaced over 3,000 people. Ongoing forced labor and road construction in KNU territory. November 28 – 4 December 2004. (Forced labor and road construction continues, but attacks stopped as of 3 Jan 05).
3) The major improvement of the Kyauk Kyi-Hsaw Hta road, (The road runs east from Kyauk Kyi to Hsaw Hta on the Salween river. Road building with a bulldozer and area patrols are ongoing as of this report, 3 January 2005. Road building crew, bulldozer and Burma Army construction security are now operating between Ye Mu Plaw and Tha Dah Der, Papun District.
4) On 31 December, 2004 the SPDC (LIB 599), began construction of a new Army camp in Mawdalaw, Mon Township, Northern Nyaunglebin District, near the Toungoo. Villagers in the area have been forced to dismantle their homes and build the camp for the Burma Army. As of 3 January 2005 construction is ongoing.
5) To the North in the Karenni State, the Burma Offensive has been relentless since late December 2003 and continues to this day. The SPDC troops chase IDPs into Toungoo and Papun Districts of the Karen State, attacking Karenni IDPs hiding there.
Comment: In terms of the ceasefire, none of the above SPDC activities are the result of accidental contact between the SPDC forces and KNLA (KNU Army). It would be bad but understandable, if during ceasefire negotiations there were clashes between the SPDC and KNLA. But the attacks against civilians and road building operations are carefully planned large-scale operations, mostly against non-military targets. It is a slow but progressive offensive designed to break down the Karen people and the KNU, village by village, farm by farm and home by home.
In Nyaunglebin District, Western Karen State, the Burma Army launched a series of attacks against civilians; burning villages, homes and rice barns in 5 townships, displacing 4,781 men, women and children. Over 20,000 baskets of rice were burned and the people who fled are still in hiding now.
The Burma Army is building three new camps about 10 kilometers apart and parallel to each other in a north-south line, creating a de-facto new front line 10-15 kilometers deeper East into Nyaunglebin District (KNU territory). Because of these camps and Burma Army patrols, the IDPs cannot go home or reach their farms. They are hiding in the jungle with what they managed to escape with and are packed everyday ready to flee again. I talked with one woman, who is 8 months pregnant as she stood on her bamboo roofless platform with her families’ three baskets packed ready to flee again. She said she was very afraid and was ready to run. She said she felt very tired and afraid and also hungry. She told one of our team,” I want to eat some noodles, do you have any? If only I could eat some noodles just once then I can die”.
She and the over 4,700 IDPs just like her are scattered in groups of 100-300 people in the jungle along streams. They have with them the clothes they fled with and not much more. A similar operation is occurring in Toungoo District and in the Karenni State now. The population is terrorized. The relentless campaign of road building seems to them like a slow strangulation.
Areas of Quiet: In spite of these attacks and the building of roads there are areas of relative peace in this Northern area. You can walk for a week in some areas and see no recent signs of attack. Instead new schools and clinics are being built, food is plentiful and the KNU is rebuilding its offices and administrative centers. In many areas the SPDC seems content for now to only conduct local patrols and focus on the collection of revenue instead of fighting the KNLA.
Why the attacks by the Burma Army? I do not know, except that the SPDC is a dictatorship and will brook no opposition, real, possible or imagined. I am not sure why the SPDC chose this time to attack. The Karen, (KNU and villagers), are convinced the orders came from Rangoon. (In the case of the attacks in Shweygyn Township, Shweygyn is only 160 kilometers from Rangoon). This seems to be a strangulation of the Karen that only slows or speeds up in pace. I do not think it will stop whether there are talks or not. The SPDC have proven consistent in their oppression of every race including their own and will not likely stop attacking the Karen. I think it is only a matter of selecting the pace. They are very corrupt and inefficient, so in selecting the pace it will not always be clear exactly what that pace is. But it seems to me that they will continue to advance.
As to morals or reason, anyone who can hold Aung San Suu Kyi and many others captive; commit murder and rape, burn schools, and chase families with small children into the jungle is not operating on any good moral or rational ground. The Burma Army troops in this area have low morale and are poorly supplied. They are told to get their food from the villages they destroy. There are also many young soldiers, probably in their teens and discipline is bad. They are still a dangerous force if nothing else because of sheer numbers and weapons, but there is dissension and battalion level corruption. For example when ordered to come back with at least four Karen dead bodies and four weapons per attacking Battalion, and they got none…some of the Battalion Commanders bought weapons from the DKBA and tried to pass them off to their superiors as captured weapons. It is a rotten but deadly system.
Hope and Relief: The Karen people are amazingly resilient and share everything they have. They keep each other alive. Schools are restarted in the jungle with no supplies or buildings, just the will of the teachers and the desire of the children to learn. Relief teams now have reached many groups of IDPs and are giving emergency relief as well as love and a reminder that these people count and are not forgotten. Relief supplies have begun to arrive in the form of rice, blankets, clothes, medicine, cooking pots, and gifts for children. Many people around the world do care and are active to help the people of Burma like these IDPs.
Relief efforts have been amazingly rapid in an area where everything must be moved by foot. A key to this has been the relationship between the Karen people and their leaders. The KNU leadership on the ground here is with the people and share their hardships. They are here, mostly with their families, living with the IDPs, trying to protect them and then staying with them in their hiding places. The relief teams (FBR), and local NGOs such as CIDKP, KORD and KHRG all work together for and with the people. Each of these organizations is built on the people themselves. It is my hope is that along with immediate relief, all are helping to try and build up a new Burma. The mission is not the destruction of the SPDC; I believe they will do that to themselves.
In the meantime people are working together to rebuild, to preserve human dignity and shine a light in a dark time. All here are grateful for those individuals and NGOs outside who send in help, report and advocate for these people.
Finally, my own hope is in God who I believe will redeem the people of Burma.
God bless you and thank you, A Free Burma Ranger Team Leader
January 3, 2005
On January 1, 2005, the Burma Army began construction of a new road from Thandaung to Leit Tho. This new road is part of a 5-road project the Burma Army is conducting in Eastern Toungoo District, Karen State.
1) Thandaung-Leit Tho road. Construction began on 1/1/05, and once complete will provide a more direct route from Thandaung to Leit Tho and on to Loikaw, Karenni State. Thandaung is a major Burma Army training area for artillery, mortar and counter guerilla training. The sound of heavy artillery and mortar fire of practicing Burma Army units can be heard as far away as the Karenni border everyday.
2) Toungoo-Mawchi road. Construction is ongoing. All weather gravel road from Toungoo to vicinity Tha Aye Hta-Ha Toh Per- (N 18 54 E 96 50). Here it is a dry season only road due to wash outs and deep rivers-no permanent bridges beyond Tha Aye Hta. ( The last bridge is at Tha Aye Hta and is a iron bridge from the British era). Forced labor and bulldozers are used on this road as the SPDC attempts to complete an all weather road to Mawchi in Karenni State. As of this report there are 13 Burma Army camps along this road between Toungoo and the Karenni Border. The newest camp, located at Ko Day, west of Yethogale, vicinity N 18 54 E 96 50 was constructed in April, 2004. The Burma Army patrols this road and conducts regular operations against villages located near the road.
3) Toungoo-Kler Lah-Busakee road. This road is now under construction using forced labor and one bulldozer. The bulldozer is now at Kaw Tha Der village. The road is a dry season only road that extends south to within 15 kilometers from Papun District, Karen State. During the dry season the Burma Army forces privately owned vehicles to carry supplies for the Burma outposts on this road. There is no remuneration for this and the vehicle owners must pay for all fuel and repairs. There are six Burma Army camps on this road.
4) The Ma La Daw, (In northern Mon township, just south of Toungoo district border) to Busakee, Toungoo district road. This road has progressed to the Play Loh river south of Tha Pyay Nyunt, but is still 20 kilometers short (southwest) of Busakee. There are so far, two Burma Army camps on this road.
5) Pah Leh Wa to Klaw Me Der road. This is a spur road south off the Toungoo-Mawchi road. Construction continues on this dry season only road that penetrates into central Tanatbin Township, Toungoo District. There are two Burma Army camps on this road.
#6) HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND FORCED LABOR BY THE BURMA ARMY:
1) Forced Labor, Physical Assault and Abduction: On 24 January Burma Army Battalions on the Toungoo-Mawchi and Toungoo-Kler Lah- Busakee road forced villagers to carry loads to two of their camps.
i) Forced portering by Burma Army on 24 January 2005. Villagers from Ga Mu Der village (on the North side of the Mawchi road west of Tha Aye Hta Burma Army camp), were forced today to porter for the Burma Army. IB 439 Column #1 Commanded by Aung Tin Win forced four villagers (Saw Xx, Saw Xx, Saw Xx and Saw Xx) to carry supplies from Kler Lah (Baw Gale Gyi) to their camp at Tha Aye Hta.
ii) On 24 January 2005, LIB 73 forced Kaw They Der (Yee Tho Gyi) villagers to carry supplies to Naw Soe Burna Army Camp. The names are Naw Xx(woman), Saw Xx, Saw Xx, and Saw Xx.
iii) January 14, 2005: From December 16, 2004 through this date, January 14, 2005, every family in the Klay Soe Kee area (vicinity the junction of the Toungoo-Mawchi and Kler Lah-Busakee roads), must provide one person to work on the roads. Men and women are forced to work everyday with no pay, under the supervision of Burma Army battalion IB 73.13 year old boy and 28 others forced to clear road for the Burma Army. One 15-year-old boy from this group loses his leg while clearing this road. A 13-year-old Karen Boy from Klay Soe Kee* was forced to clear the road from Kaw They Der (Yee Tho Gyi), to Naw Soe and on south to See Kay Der along with 28 villagers for the Burma Army during the month of December 2004, starting on 17 December 2004. He and the other villagers were forced to do this work by Burma Army battalion LIB 439 column #1, commanded by Aung Tin Win. While the villagers were clearing the road one boy, Saw Tha Po Dee age 15, stepped on a landmine and lost his lower leg and foot.: Naw Soe and See Kay Der Army camps are located south of Kaw They Der on the road to Busakee, in Tantabin township (Thandaung), Toungoo District, Northern Karen State, Burma. The forced road clearing by villagers is continuing now.
*Name omitted for the protection of the villager.
The team met with one woman forced to work on the road; This woman, Naw Xx, age 20 from Klay Soe Kee village, was forced by te Burma Army to clear the road from Naw Soe Burma Army camp to See Ka Der Camp on the Busakee road. She and other villagers were forced to start this work on 23 Dec 2004. She had to clear the road for two days and then allowed to go home. She is on call to go and clear the road again. This forced road clearing by the Burma Army is continuing now.
iv) On 13 December 2004, at Yeh Tho Gyi village: Burma Army LIB 590 took four men and seven women to serve as porters for the day. Burma Army LIB 590 released the women at the end of the day, but not before slapping their faces and firing several shots in their direction as they departed. The men have not yet been released.
2) Two Burma Army Battalions shoot a villager in nearby Mon township and fire into a Christmas Celebration:
On January 6, 2005, Burma Army Battalion LIB 599 ambushed a group of villagers near Kwee Daw Kaw village, Mon township, Nyaunglebin District. This is the Karen township south of Tantabin Township, Toungoo District, Karen State. One villager was shot and wounded but managed to escape. The wounded man is Saw Eh Xx.
On 6 December 2004, at Yeh Tho Gyi village: Villagers fled after soldiers from LIB 590 and 439 fired into their nighttime Christmas celebration from nearby high ground.
3) Human Shields:
On 4 December 2004, at Yeh Tho Gyi village, N 18 53, E 096 50: Burma Army Battalion LIB 439, under the command of Lt. Col. Aung Htay Win, took village headman Saw Xx, Reverend Xx, and teacher Saw Xx , and forced them to serve as human shields for two bulldozers making improvements to the Bu Sa Kee Road between Yeh Tho Ley to Yeh Tho Gyi villages. The north end of the Bu Sa Kee Road departs the Toungoo-Mawchi (Mawchi, Karenni State) Road at Yeh Tho Ley (N 18 54, E 096 50) and travels ~30 km south to Bu Sa Kee (N 18 44, E 096 57 ).