SHRF MONTHLY REPORT
SHRF MONTHLY REPORT -- AUGUST 2005
Pitching one ethnic group against another, or even one group against another of the same ethnic group, has been one of the successful short term strategies often used by the Burmese military regimes in subjugating both groups in the end.
For decades, although the major long-standing ethnic conflict in Burma has been between the Burman chauvinistic military regimes and other non-Burman ethnic groups, the regimes’ troops have often been able to put a wedge and provoke a fight between different armed ethnic groups.
The recent fighting between UWSA and SSA-S, and between KNPP and KNPLF are cases in point. As is quite clear to all sides, the actual winner would eventually turn out to be only the SPDC.
It is not only among the armed ethnic groups that the Burmese junta has been successful in sowing seeds of discord. But by letting members of friendly armed ethnic groups prey on civilian members of different ethnic groups, it has also been able to create hatred and fear to some extent among the civilian populations.
Letting UWSA troops harass Shan villagers recently in Murng-Ton township, as reported in last month’s issue, is just one instance.
In this month’s issue, a member of SPDC-sponsored Lahu People’s Militia shot at a Shan woman, accusing her of being a witch and forcing her family to move away. Locals believe this incident was engineered by the SPDC troops.
As usual, this issue also contains a litany of various other abuses by the SPDC troops.
RAPE OF 7-YEAR-OLD GIRL, CAUSING DEATH, IN KUN-HING
In April 2005, a 7-year-old girl was raped by 2 SPDC troops from IB246, causing the girl to lose consciousness and she shortly later died of the injuries sustained from the rape, in Kun-Hing township.
On 24 April 2005, Ae Kya, aged 7, and her sister, Ae Pi, aged 12, of Nam Mae Hai village in Naa Tong Mon village tract, Kun-Hing township, went to collect wild vegetables along a brook outside their village.
A patrol of 2 SPDC troops from IB246 saw them and approached the girls. When the sisters saw that the 2 men approaching them were Burmese soldiers, the older one ran away, telling her younger sister to also run away.
The older girl managed to escape by running fast among bushes and undergrowth, but her younger sister could not catch up with her. It took some time for the older girl to get back to her village and relate the incident to her parents.
When the girls’ parents and some fellow villagers went in search of the younger girl who had not yet returned, they found her lying unconscious near the brook not far from where the girls saw the 2 SPDC soldiers.
The villagers then immediately took the unconscious girl to Kun-Hing town hospital on a mini-tractor. After examining the girl, a doctor at the hospital said that the girl had been brutally raped and had sustained very serious injuries from the rape because she was still too young.
The doctor explained that the girl’s injuries were so serious that it would be very difficult to save her life, and just shortly after that the girl died at the hospital without regaining consciousness.
Although the village and community leaders reported the incident to the SPDC military authorities in the area, the villagers could not point out who the said 2 soldiers actually were. The villagers could do nothing further and the case had to be dropped.
A FIREWOOD GATHERER RAPED IN MURNG-KERNG
In March 2005, a woman who was gathering firewood was raped by 2 SPDC troops near a road between Tong Lao and Paang Kaetu villages in Paang Kaetu village tract, Murng-Kerng township.
On 5 March 2005, Naang Seng Thawn (not her real name), aged 21, of Paang Kaetu village went to gather dry twigs and branches for firewood along the sides of the road between her village and Tong Lao village.
As Naang Seng Thawn was gathering firewood close to the road, 2 SPDC troops who were riding a motorcycle and were coming from the direction of the military camp at Tong Lao village saw her. As they learned that Naang Seng Thawn was alone, the soldiers stopped and talked to her as if to ask directions to somewhere.
But when the SPDC soldiers got near Naang Seng Thawn, they seized her, took her some distance away from the road and raped her. After they had satisfied themselves raping her, the soldiers got on their motorcycle and rode back towards the direction where they had come.
After the SPDC soldiers left, Naang Seng Thawn immediately returned to her village, crying, and told her parents and the village leaders about her plight. However, the villagers dared not lodge a complaint with the authorities and did not know what to do except console their daughter.
A VILLAGER SHOT AT AND SERIOUSLY WOUNDED BY MEMBER OF PEOPLE’S MILITIA IN MURNG-TON
In April 2005, a member of an SPDC-sponsored Lahu people’s militia shot at a Shan woman with a shotgun at her farm near Paang Khaa village in Wan Naa village tract, Murng-Ton township. The woman was seriously wounded in the stomach and had to be taken to Thailand for treatment because the hospital in Murng-Ton refused to admit her.
In the morning of 3 April 2005, while Naang U, aged 42, was alone at her farm near Paang Khaa village, the head of the Lahu people’s militia of Paang Khaa village came and shot at her with a shotgun. The shot, which fired out 9 lead pellets, hit her in the stomach and she fell down and lost consciousness.
Thinking Naang U was dead, the militia head returned to his village. A short while later, when Naang U’s husband, Zaai Ti, came and saw his wife lying unconscious with blood all over her body but still alive, he enquired about it at Paang Khaa village.
The Lahu militia head then said to Zaai Ti that he shot his wife because she was a witch and had made his children fall sick several times using witchcraft and told Zaai Ti to move his family back to Wan Naa village where they had come from, or he would shoot all of them dead.
Zaai Ti then carried his wounded wife to the nearest motor-road and took her to the hospital in Murng-Ton, but they refused to admit her saying that it was beyond their capacity to treat such wounds.
Zaai Ti then took his wife to the border with Thailand and, fortunately, on humanitarian grounds she was taken to a hospital in Chiangmai to receive treatment.
Zaai Ti, his wife and their daughter, were originally from Wan Naa village in Wan Naa village tract, Murng-Ton township. They got into trouble with the local SPDC troops when one of them wanted to marry their daughter.
The SPDC authorities once detained their daughter, accusing her of trying to lure a daughter of a policeman to go to Thailand, and they had to give the authorities 200,000 kyat of money for the release of their daughter.
Fearing more abuses from the SPDC troops, Zaai Ti and his wife moved away to stay in a hut at their little farm near a Lahu village, Paang Khaa, in the same village tract. Local villagers believed that the SPDC troops were dissatisfied with their behavior and caused the Lahu people’s militia to kill them.
Naang U has now been discharged from the hospital and is staying with her relatives at an orchard in Fang district in Chiangmai province. She still has to go to the hospital to have her wounds examined once in a while.
A VILLAGER SEVERELY BEATEN, MONEY EXTORTED, IN LAI-KHA
In May 2005, a villager was accused of providing money and food for soldiers of the Shan resistance and arrested, detained and severely beaten and tortured by SPDC troops of LIB515 in Lai-Kha township.
On 3 May 2005, a patrol of SPDC troops from Company No. 4 of LIB515, led by Capt. Kyaw Aye, came to Ter Leng village in Haai Seng village tract, Lai-Kha township, and arrested the village secretary, Zaai Kham Too (m), aged 38, accusing him of collecting and providing money and rice for the Shan soldiers in the area.
Zaai Kham Too was detained and interrogated, and severely beaten and tortured by the SPDC troops, and later 300,000 kyat of money was extorted from his relatives for his release.
Even some time after his release, Zaai Kham Too was unable to move around without help and bruises and sprains all over his body could still be seen. He also lost 3 teeth during the beating.
ARREST AND DETENTION, FORCED LABOUR AND EXTORTION, IN CENTRAL SHAN STATE
In May 2005, there have been several cases of arrest and detention of Shan villagers, including Shan Buddhist monks, by SPDC authorities in central Shan State, concerning the declaration of independence by the newly formed Interim Shan Government, which was reported in the June 2005 issue of this newsletter.
There have also been several mass forced rallies of the local people by the SPDC authorities in protest of the said Shan Government in several townships in central Shan State, some of which have also been reported in the June issue, and money was extorted from those who failed to attend those rallies.
On 8 May 2005, such a mass forced rally was held at the sports ground in Murng-Nai town and 2 persons from each house in the township were required to attend it without fail, or face a fine of 10,000 kyat and 4 viss (1viss = 1.6 k.g.) of pork.
On 10 May 2005, another rally was held in the compound of the High School in Murng Nawng village tract, Kae-See township. Here also, 2 persons from each house were to attend the rally or pay a fine that consisted of the same amount of money and pork as in Murng-Nai.
On both occasions, unpaid forced labour of civilian vehicles were requisitioned by the SPDC authorities to transport people to the sites of the rallies which they were forced to attend.
After the said rallies, Zaai Tui (m), of Pha Pawk village in Kae-See township; village tract headman, Nan-Taw, and a villager, Za-Wa-Na (m), of Wan Hai village in Murng-Nai township; were arrested and taken to the Eastern Regional Military Command in Tawng-Gi, the capital of Shan State.
A Buddhist monk, Tae-Zin-Da, of Wan Paang village in Wan Hai village tract, Murng-Nai township, was arrested and detained by SPDC troops of LIB515. The monastery in which the monk lived was also burned down by the troops.
A Buddhist monk, Pan-Nya-Sa-Mi, of Hin He monastery in Murng Nawng village in Kae-See township was also arrested by local SPDC troops and detained at the base of Military Operation Command in the area.
None of the detainees have yet been known to be released up to the time this report was received in late June 2005.
MORE RESTRICTIONS AND EXTORTION, AND FORCED RELOCATION, IN CENTRAL SHAN STATE
Since around 25 May 2005, more restrictions of movements have been imposed by SPDC authorities on the people in several townships in central Shan State, such as Murng-Nai, Nam-Zarng and Kun-Hing, etc.. Some displaced villagers who had been allowed to return to their original villages have been forced to move back to the relocation sites.
In late May 2005, orders were issued by SPDC authorities in several townships in central Shan State restricting people from going to their remote farms or into the forests to cut wood, collect wild vegetables and mushrooms, or any other activities.
In Kaeng Tawng area in Murng-Nai township, farmers who wanted to go to their farms were required to ask permission from the local SPDC troops who issued a pass for 500 kyat of money per person, and for only 2-3 days. This means that farmers had to ask for a new pass every 2-3 days and pay 500 kyat for it.
Farmers whose farms were relatively far were required to ride on mini-tractors, transported by the SPDC troops themselves, to the nearest possible places and pay an additional fare of 500 kyat per person.
Displaced people who had been originally relocated to relocation sites and had been permitted to return to their original villages, were again forced to go back to the relocation sites. For instance, people of Haai Laai village tract in Nam-Zarng township who had been allowed to return to their original villages from Kho Lam village relocation site, were again forced back to Kho Lam relocation site.
This has put the people, especially displaced and destitute rural farmers, into an extremely difficult situation. They could not afford to pay for the pass every 2-3 days just to go to their farms whose yields would not cover their expenses, but they still needed to go because their farms were their only means of survival.
Orders requiring local people to ask permission for activities such as holding ceremonies for paying respect to guardian spirits in their respective areas have also been issued, with warnings of severe punishment for those who disobeyed.
All the above mentioned factors have since been causing many people to abandon their remote farms and flee to other places, including Thailand.
ELDERLY VILLAGER FORCED TO CHAIR FORCED MASS RALLY, AND PUNISHED, IN KAENG-TUNG
On 12 May 2005, a mass rally against the declaration of independence by the Interim Shan Government, as mentioned previously, was also forced by SPDC authorities to be held in Kaeng-Tung township.
The mass rally was held in the town sports ground from 6 a.m. to around 9:30 a.m. in the morning and 3 village elders, each from Shan, Lahu and Akha “ethnic nationalities”, were given the responsibility to chair the rally.
After the rally, during which the Chairmen were required to read messages written by the SPDC authorities, and give opening speeches, and all the participants required to shout slogans condemning the Interim Shan Government, when people were released to go home, the 3 Chairmen were told to remain behind.
After all the people had left the rally ground, the SPDC authorities said that one of the Chairmen, the Shan village elder, Lung Hawng Kham, had performed very poorly during the rally, and that his voice had been very low, soft and weak where it should have been loud, hard and strong. Thus, they claimed he obviously lacking enthusiasm.
The SPDC authorities then told Lung Hawng Kham to again ascend the stage and perform once more as if it were the real opening of the rally and enthusiastically read and give his speeches.
Lung Hawng Kham was over 70 years old, and he had to stand in the late morning sun of May and repeat his performance for another 20 minutes using more energy, at the end of which he was soaked with sweat and almost fainting.
FORCED LABOUR, RESTRICTIONS AND EXTORTION IN NAM-ZARNG
Since April 2005, villagers of Loi La village in Loi La village tract, Nam-Zarng township, have been forced by SPDC troops from IB248 to work for them without pay, and they are required to buy a pass from the troops to travel to other places outside their village tract area.
Since the SPDC troops, from IB248 based in Murng-Nai township, set up an outpost camp east of Loi La village in Loi La village tract in Nam-Zarng township, they have been forcing people in the area, especially villagers of Loi La village, to provide unpaid forced labour, and have restricted their movements.
In April and May 2005, villagers of Loi La village were forced to provide bamboo and build fences around the said military camp, using their own tools and providing their own food, for 10 days.
Since April, villagers of Loi La also have had to fetch water for the camp on a daily basis. Every day, 3 barrels of water have to be transported to the camp on villagers’ ox-carts. Each cart could carry only 1 barrel and it takes about 3 hours to transport water to the camp at a time.
In addition to fetching water for the camp, the villagers also have to provide other routine unpaid forced labour such as maintenance of the camp, standing guard and running errands, etc..
Restrictions of movement have also been imposed on the villagers by the said SPDC troops. When villagers of Loi La wanted to go to other places such as Murng-Nai, Nam-Zarng or even a nearby village tract, Kho Lam, they were required to get a pass from the troops, for 1,500 kyat each time.
FORCED LABOUR SITUATION IN NORTHERN SHAN STATE
In 2005 up to the present, SPDC troops in several townships in northern Shan State are still using unpaid forced labour, regularly as well as occasionally, of the local people on a systematic basis, according to those who have recently visited the areas.
In several townships such as Nam-Tu, Mu-Se, Nam-Kham and La-Sio in northern Shan State, people say that SPDC troops are still using forced labour of the people on a regular basis, especially in the rural areas.
For instance, SPDC troops stationed at Murng Yaen village in Murng Yaen village tract, Nam-Tu township, are still forcing the local people to work regularly for them in the upkeep of their camp, fetching water, gathering firewood, cutting bamboo for fixing and building fences and other buildings, clearing the compound and doing sanitation work, etc.. Vehicles such as mini-tractors are also occasionally conscripted to use in transporting their troops and rations.
People in Mu-Se township, such as Tong Khaan, Kawng Khaan, Kawng Khaang, Hoi Tai and Hoi Nur villages, say they still have to provide similar forced labour to the SPDC troops in their respective areas up to the present.
People in Nawng Zaang, Nawng Turn, Saai Khaao, Nawng Ma Na Lam and Nawng Ma Na Leng villages, etc., in Nam-Kham township; and people in Nam Pawng village tract in La-Sio township; are also being faced with more or less the same situation concerning forced labour.
STEALING OF LIVESTOCK AND PROPERTY IN KAENG-TUNG
For some years now, SPDC troops from No. 11 Military Training Centre based in Murng Lang village tract in Kaeng-Tung township have been stealing the livestock and property of the local people whenever they get the opportunities. The following are some of the incidents that took place over the last recent months.
On 29 April 2005, a group of 7 SPDC troops from the said unit, who were roaming outside the villages, shot dead and took away 4 pigs, worth at least 100,000 kyat, belonging to the villagers of Wan Zerng village in Murng Lang village tract, Kaeng-Tung township.
Even though the villagers reported the incident to the SPDC authorities at the Training Centre as well as at the SPDC township office in Kaeng-Tung town, no one took any action and those at the township office even teased the villagers. “You have a lot of pigs at your village, haven’t you? Why don’t you just let the soldiers have some?” they said.
On 1 May 2005, 4 SPDC troops from the same unit shot dead and took away 2 pigs, worth about 60,000 kyat, belonging to a villager of Wan Ten village in the same village tract. The incident was reported to the Training Centre, but no action has been taken so far.
On 3 May 2005, villagers of Wan Ten in the same village tract heard a gunshot from some distance outside their village. A villager who had let his small buffalo graze in the direction from where the gunshot came, became anxious and went to have a look.
Outside the village, the villager saw a group of 4-5 SPDC soldiers cutting meat from a dead buffalo and as soon as they saw him coming, the soldiers took all the meat they had cut and ran away. The villager then shouted for his fellow villagers to come and witness his buffalo being stolen by the SPDC troops.
On 9 May 2005, some valuables of one of the families of Wan Nok village in the same village tract were stolen from their house by the SPDC troops from the same unit at about 4 o’clock in the evening. The valuables stolen were: a set of gold earrings worth 30,000 kyat; 10 ancient silver coins worth 30,000 kyat and 20,000 kyat of paper money.
On the day of the incident, there was a Buddhist religious ceremony in a nearby village and all the villagers of Wan Nok had gone there during they day. However, some villagers who were returning in the evening were just in time to see 3 SPDC soldiers leaving a house. When the house’s owners returned, they saw the valuables kept in the house were gone.
STEALING OF LIVESTOCK IN MURNG-TON
On 24 April 2005, a patrol of SPDC troops from IB133 shot and ate 2 pigs belonging to Lahu villagers of Aa Tu Lung village in Murng Kaang village tract, Murng-Ton township. The 2 pigs weighed about 50 viss (1 viss = 1.6 k.g.) and could be sold at the rate of 2,000 kyat per viss at the market.
On the day of the incident, a joint patrol of 20 SPDC troops from IB133, based in Murng-Sart township, and 20 Lahu militiamen from Murng Kaang village in Murng-Ton township, had been patrolling the area of Murng Kaang village tract in Murng-Ton township.
As they got near a Lahu village, Aa Tu Lung, they saw 2 pigs grazing outside the village. Without uttering a word the SPDC troops shot at the 2 pigs, killing them on the spot. The SPDC troops then told the Lahu militiamen to help them cut up the pigs, cook them and eat them together, right on the spot.
When they heard the gunshots as the SPDC troops shot their pigs, all the men in the village ran away, leaving only women and children who dared not say anything to the SPDC troops and the Lahu militiamen.