FBR REPORT: Karenni State Update
Karenni State, Burma
7 November, 2010

  • Burma Army wounds 25 year old villager and his 6-month old child and wife in mortar attack
  • Karenni Army activity
  • Burma Army officers bribe villagers to vote for USDP candidates in upcoming elections, and push early voting

Villager Situation

On September 25, 2010, troops from the Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 135 fired 81mm mortars into Lo Kha Lo village, seriously wounding 25-year old Zaw Pho Chin, his 6-month-old child and his wife. Also a house was burned down in this attack. The mortar attack was in retaliation for attacks by the Karenni Army on Burma Army troops. Since August, the villages of Lo Kha Lo, Lo Bow Hti, Htoo Do Lay Ko, Bu Lot Bo, and Kaw Du Dae have been threatened by Burma Army troops who find themselves under attack by resistance forces.

Woman injured by Burma Army mortar.
Woman injured by Burma Army mortar.

On October 16, there was a clash between soldiers of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP, pro-democracy resistance) and Burma Army Battalion 247; two Burma Army soldiers were killed in the fighting and the Karenni Army gained a gun from the clash. In retaliation the Burma Army launched an attack into nearby Daw Da Ma Gyi village, destroying two houses and arresting the village headman. The soldiers threatened to burn the village down completely if they didn’t get the gun back.

On October 20, 2010, soldiers from Battalion 247 threatened the villages of Daw Da Ma Gyi and Daw Nyi Ku, demanding that the villagers find weapons the Burma Army had lost in fighting, or pay money for them. They threatened to burn down the village if not recompensed for the lost arms. The soldiers also prevent the villagers from going to their farms and force them to stay in the villages, thus leaving their fields vulnerable to animals. Battalion 247 is under Military Operation Command (MOC) 2, led by Phyo Min Win.

In Loikaw Township, on September 5, 2010, an order was sent out to Noa La Bo village’s headman at the Loikaw Township Office to collect 500 kyat per household for the election in the Loikaw suburb areas. The order was sent by the Loikaw Township Peace and Development Council. This is in an area where the villagers are already being fined by the local Burma Army officers for farming their land, which the Burma Army claims to own. This is the settled place of LIBs 261 and 250; there are several forced relocation villages here and the Burma Army is forcibly confiscating land for a new industry zone. The ordinary people in these areas have thus been in various difficult situations to survive for daily food due to being forced to pay fines and election fees. These areas are in 11 villages with 800 households, according to the recent report from the Karenni Army.

Karenni Army activity

On October 26 at 4am, Karenni Army, Troop 3, took over the police station near the Burma Army camp at Poung Choung, defeating the soldiers of Burma Army Infantry Battalion (IB) 72, led by General Kyaw Ko Thang. The fighting lasted three hours and 4 Burma Army soldiers were killed and 4 captured. Several also died as they tried to escape across a river. The Karenni Army took various arms and weaponry and then burned down the Burma Army camp. The captured 4, Tun Tun Win, second corporal Aung Kyaw Moe, Yan Myo Aung and corporal Soe Win, were questioned then handed over to a monastery.


October 4, 2010: After the KNPP released a statement to prevent election campaigning in its administrative area, the Burma Army fears that it will be unable to control the election in the KNPP controlled areas. In addition, sources from Karenni State said that as the election is drawing near, the Burma Army based in Loikaw has been calling out the village headmen in the Loikaw area, and having weekly meetings with them to insure that they vote for new USDP (the party of the military, Union Solidarity and Development Party) in the upcoming November 7 elections. They are also training government employees, especially school teachers, in how to monitor the election process. At the same time it is reported that village headmen have been required to bring all the ID card numbers from their villagers to register at the military base Loi Lin, occupied by LIB 530. By forcing the Karenni people to vote prior to election, the authorities hope to prevent the KNPP from disturbing the election campaign. The source from Karenni added in its remark that the military has already manipulated its electoral law for fear of not winning the election.

Earlier, on August 27, 2010, Colonel Aye Cho, regional tactical commander from the Balawke-based tactical command, arrived to Mawchi town and hosted a meeting with village heads and secretaries from 17 villages from west of Mawchi. In the meeting, Colonel Aye Cho told the village heads and secretaries that the election would be coming soon and to organize to villagers so the USDP would win; he also requested that the KNPP not disturb the election.

He told the village heads that if the USDP wins the election, each of them will get a two-wheeled tractor — a valuable and multi-use farm implement –and that the old Taunggu – Mawchi road will be rebuilt for regional development and extended to necessary villages.

The KNPP is resisting the election due to widely-recognized flaws in both the electoral process and the administration of the process, which prevent it from being either free or fair. The election is being held based on a constitution that insures the military will maintain power and that has outlawed Aung San Suu Kyi and her party — who won the last election in 1990 but were never allowed into office and instead were imprisoned. The military is using a combination of bribery and intimidation to gain votes and in several ethnic areas, including Karenni areas, has shut down the election completely, saying it is not possible to hold free and fair elections in these areas.