FBR REPORT: Villager shot and beaten to death on Christmas Eve as Burma Army continues to oppress people in northern Karen State. December 2011.
Karen State, Burma
30 January, 2012

In This Report
  • Villager shot and beaten to death on Christmas Eve as Burma Army continues to oppress people in northern Karen State
  • Multi-ethnic team conducts relief mission in Toungoo District

  • Burma Army and Border Guard Force shoot villagers and demand forced labor in Butho Township, Mutraw District

  • Nyaunglebin District teams complete relief mission

  • Teams complete relief mission in Luthaw Township, Mutraw District

Map showing area of report

Burma Army patrols kill man and demand forced labor in Toungoo District

On 24 December 2011, at 4:30pm, troops from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 380, based at Naw Soe Camp, shot and wounded and then beat to death Saw Koh Mya, age 31, from Ku Ler Der Village, while on patrol. They then looted his body and left him half buried by the side of the trail.

On 29 December 2011, a column from LIB 375, patrolling in the Play Hsa Loh area, forced villagers to transport their food to Htee Mu Hta Camp. They used 60 oxcarts owned by villagers from Ye Shan, Sha Zee Bo, See Phyu Kone, Taw Kone and Pyin Kan villages.

On 30 December 2011, at 12pm, a Burma Army bulldozer travelling with a security column left Kler La heading toward Ler Hsa Day, which is between Klay Soh Hkee and Kler La. They forced one villager to use his truck to carry food to Naw Soe Camp.

On 7 December, LIB 378 fired 10 mortar rounds at Ko Way Village. Five of the 10 landed in the village and destroyed some houses. This was a response to a Karen pro-democracy resistance, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), attack on the battalion earlier that day. There were no KNLA troops in the village when the mortar fire occurred.

Burma Army soldiers in Kler La Camp, Toungoo District


Father of FBR team member loses leg to landmine

Overview of Burma Army Troops in Toungoo District

Military Operations Command (MOC) 9 and Southern Command are operating in the area. There are 20 battalions between them. LIBs 380 and 374 have both sustained losses due to attacks from the KNLA and have combined to make the size of one full battalion. LIB 378, commanded by Lin Htaing Oo, is in the Thandaung area. LIB 375 is above Pa Lay Wa. LIB 379 is responsible for road and bulldozer security. The primary activity of the Burma Army here is road construction and moving supplies. There is one Burma Army bulldozer at Naw Soe Camp and one at Busakee Camp. These are hidden under camouflage to protect them from resistance attacks. Because of the effectiveness of these attacks, different Burma Army battalions are not sharing their bulldozers with each other out of fear they will be destroyed.

Multi-ethnic Team Conducts Relief Mission in Mutraw and Toungoo Districts

OVERVIEW: During the month of December, ten Free Burma Ranger teams, including team members from Arakan, Karen, Karenni, Lahu, Mon, Naga, and Pa-Oh areas of Burma, conducted a relief mission in Luthaw Township of Mutraw District, and Daw Pa Ko Township in Toungoo District. The teams visited eight villages and Internally Displaced Person (IDP) sites. They conducted Good Life Club (GLC) programs for children in each site, interviewed teachers and local village leaders, gathered information on Burma Army activity in these areas, and put on clinics for all villages in the area of each site. Altogether, the teams helped over 1,600 children, from 32 different schools, by providing clothing and school supplies; they also treated over 1,350 patients.

Arakan and Mon rangers sing for a program in northern Karen State
Children laugh with GLC team leader at program

EDUCATION: While every village has some form of school, in Toungoo District there are no high schools outside of Burma Army-controlled villages. Approximately 20% of school-aged children from villages represented at the programs cannot go to school either because their families are too poor and they must stay home to help, or because of the lack of opportunity in their village, and an inability to travel to a boarding school or refugee camp for further education. Many teachers say their greatest needs are basic supplies like text books and sports equipment. Many of these schools must go to nearby Burma Army-controlled villages to buy their own supplies.

FBR medic doing dental work at a GLC program

HEALTH: In Toungoo District, there is one clinic that serves IDPs and villages outside of Burma Army-controlled areas. This clinic is run by the Karen National Union (KNU — pro-democracy resistance). Most villagers interviewed are at least a full day’s walk from this clinic, which has no electricity. FBR teams traveling between the villages of Thay Mu Der and See Plaw were stopped by villagers and asked to come see a pregnant woman in her third trimester who had been unconscious for five hours. FBR medics worked with her for the rest of the day and through the night, and were able to stabilize her but could not provide all the help she needed (she was later diagnosed with eclampsia). The medics decided the best option was to carry her by hammock stretcher to the nearest clinic in a Burma Army-controlled village. While villagers do visit these brown-zone villages, it is dangerous and they are frequently arrested, interrogated, fined and otherwise harassed by Burma Army soldiers with impunity. The KNU worked with the underground resistance to find a way and the FBR medics carried her part of the distance, where they were met by other villagers who took her the rest of the way.

Another case FBR teams met on the mission is that of Saw See Blu Ywa. See Blu Ywa (“Thank God” in Karen language) was badly burned when he was two days old and rolled into the fire. His mother says he can still see out of both eyes but one is damaged. He has no use of his right hand but can use his arm with limited range of motion, as well as some limitations on the range of motion in his neck. FBR has committed to helping him with reconstructive surgery with the help of many others this year.

Saw Blu Ywa, burned as an infant, with GLC bracelet

POST-ELECTION: Villagers and local leaders, when asked about any changes since Burma’s elections one year ago, almost uniformly responded that there have been no significant changes. However, as detailed above, there has been some decrease in Burma Army activity, partly due to fighting in other areas of Burma and partly due to KNLA activity.

Children from 11 schools came to this GLC program, northern Karen State

Burma Army and BGF shoot villagers and demand forced labor in Butho Township, Mutraw District

Burma Army and Border Guard Force (The BGF are ethnic proxy forces that work with the Burma Army) troops have been shooting villagers, demanding forced labor, and taking money and supplies from people in Butho Township, Mutraw District, Karen State.

On 27 December 2011, villagers from Pra Day Mu Village fled to hiding places because Burma Army and BGF troops demanded forced labor. There are more than 50 houses in this village. On 28 December, Burma Army Infantry Battalion (IB) 218, commanded by Htun Htun Naing, captured 14 people — seven from Htee Gay Lo Village and seven from Mae Nyaw Village — and forced them to serve as guides and carry wounded troops. At 5pm, also on 28 December, Burma Army troops shot and wounded one villager.

As of 3 January 2012, the Burma Army and BGF activity in Mae Nyaw and Pra Day Mu is ongoing and villagers have not been able to return to their villages. The BGF told the villagers not to go back to Pra Day Mu Village yet because of landmines they had laid in the village.

BGF Battalion 1014, led by Bo Maw Htin, have been active in Lay Wah and Saw Hpa village tracts. They have now combined with the Burma Army to form a joint camp in K’Ter Hti. As they returned with wounded troops, they burned down the villagers’ rubber plantation, saying it was because the village supported the KNLA.

In Ta Ku Der Village Tract the Burma Army is trying to build up its camp. As part of this, LIB 345 has been monitoring villager activity more carefully. In the villages of Ta Ku Der, Plaw Day, Lay Pu Kha, To Kee Lo and Ler Bo they have been forcing villagers to check in with them twice a week. On 5 January 2012, at midnight, LIB 341 also forced villagers to clean their village because they said their leaders were coming.

Burma Army troops called the Mae Moi Hta Village headman to a meeting at Hpa Loe Village. They gave him a digital camera and told him to take photos of people coming and going in the village.

Troops from BGF Battalion 2013 commanded by Saw Kyaw Than forced villagers from Nya Gay Lo to cut 500 bamboo poles and send them to K’Ter Hti BGF Camp. In Mae Lah Village, people have not been able to harvest their rice because BGF and Burma Army troops are in the village. Five people from the village went to buy food but BGF troops confiscated it as they returned to the village.

On 11 November 2011, BGF troops commanded by Saw Maw Wee demanded 150,000 kyat from each of four villages: Htee Taw Kee, Mae Bree Kee, Mae Bree Pa Doh and Htee Baw Kho.

Burma Army and BGF troops continue to demand supplies, money and forced labor from villagers. LIB 434 has replaced IB 19 in the Dah Point area. They are using six trucks to resupply their camp at Papun.

Free Burma Ranger relief teams are providing relief supplies and medical treatment for people in the area.

Nyaunglebin District teams complete relief mission

Nyaunglebin District teams completed a relief mission in the areas of Mae Ka Tee, Htee Wa Bway Kee, Kauka, Blaw Ko and other places in Hsaw Hti Township, Nyaunglebin District, northwestern Karen State. The teams did Good Life Club programs, medical treatment, interviews, prayed and encouraged the people. Children from 11 schools attended the programs and over 580 patients were treated.

Health education during Good Life Club program

In this area, LIB 598 is based at Taung Chi Yein Camp (N 17 40 50.9 E 96 59 25.0), LIB 589 is based at Ler Tau Tho Camp. They are not currently patrolling. IB 2, IB 10, IB 96, LIB 207 and artillery battalions are also in the area. Most of these are under Division 44 based at Kyet Ton. There is also a Burma Army camp at the Kyeit Htee Yo Pagoda area. There have been no offensives in the area since 2010, but troops have been searching for KNLA soldiers and sending food and resupplies to their camps. This area is a mix of brown zones where there is mixed Burma Army and KNU control, and black zones controlled by the KNU where the Burma Army has a free-fire policy including civilians.

LIB 207 security tower, Nyaunglebin District

One village in the area, near the junction of Nyaunglebin, Mutraw and Thaton districts has been forced to porter by the Burma Army monthly over the past year. However, forced labor has decreased in the past year because Division 44 demands forced labor less often than Division 101, which was previously in the area. Overall, people in this area have been in a better situation than in the previous year and there have been no new displaced people.

The teams treated 581 people with health problems including common cold, anemia, worms, malaria, ARI, UTI and other problems. They also did dental treatment and gave out eye glasses. In parts of this area there are no clinics.

Most of the villages in the area have primary schools, while a few villages have middle schools. About 10 to 20% of school-age children do not attend school, often because they need to look after their younger siblings or their parents cannot afford to continue their education.

Most of the people in the area earned a living with mountain rice farming, while a few have small shops and some are day laborers.

Teams complete relief mission in Luthaw Township, Mutraw District

FBR teams have completed a mission in Luthaw Township, Mutraw District, Karen State. The teams conducted Good Life Club programs for over 500 children from six schools in eight villages. Burma Army Division 101 is in the area, patrolling along the car road and resupplying their camps with food. Wa Klai Tu, Kaw Thway Kyo and Paw Kay Ko Burma Army camps are in the area.

Wa Klai Tu Burma Army Camp, Luthaw Township

Thanks to all of you who help us do these missions.
May God bless you,

The Free Burma Rangers