SHRF MONTHLY REPORT -- NOVEMBER 2006
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SHAN HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION
SHRF MONTHLY REPORT -- NOVEMBER 2006
For most people in Shan State life under the Burmese military dictatorship is not unlike that of those under a brutal foreign occupying force who regard the locals as enemies and would not hesitate to brutalize them for any reason, however unreasonable it might be.
People in Shan State, especially in the rural areas, have been often arrested, tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment by the Burmese juntaขs troops who seem to have no qualms about using brute force against local villagers.
All the incidents reported in this monthขs issue involved arrest and detention of villagers by SPDC juntaขs troops. In many cases, people were severely beaten and tortured during detention, even village elders who were observing sabbath and making merit at Buddhist temples were not spared.
Two village headmen died from torture during detention in 2 separate incidents and in 2 other separate incidents 3 villagers disappeared after being tortured and taken away by patrols of SPDC troops. In several cases, large amounts of money were extorted from the detainees by the SPDC troops before releasing them.
Several villages, comprising over 100 households, in Mawk-Mai township have been forcibly relocated after their headmen and leaders were arrested and detained by the SPDC troops.
In most cases, people who were cruelly treated by the SPDC troops were innocent villagers who had nothing to do with what they had been accused of.
ARREST, DETENTION, SEVERE BEATING AND TORTURE OF VILLAGERS, 2 DIED OF THE BEATING, AND FORCED LABOUR, IN KUN-HING
During July and August 2006, several villagers including village elders and community leaders were severely beaten up, and some were forced to serve as porters, by the SPDC troops from LIB524 in Kun-Hing township.
Some of the villagers were arrested, detained and interrogated, and were so severely tortured and beaten up during interrogations that 2 of them were believed to have died of the beating. The bodies of the dead victims were believed to have been secretly buried or destroyed by the SPDC troops and were never seen again by their relatives.
The following are some of the said incidents:
On 9 July 2006, a patrol of about 45 SPDC troops from LIB524, led by Capt. Naing Kyaw Oo, came to Loi Khu village in Wan Paang village tract, Kun-Hing township, at around 9 oขclock in the evening.
It was the full moon day which marked the first day of the Buddhist Lent and there were about 25 village elders, including men and women, observing sabbath at the village temple to gain merit as it was a religious tradition of the villagers.
The SPDC troops surrounded the temple, went into it and ordered all the merit makers to gather at a place in the compound of the temple. The troops told the villagers that they had come after a group of Shan soldiers who had passed through the village a few hours earlier, and they wanted to know about them.
The villagers said that they did not know about the Shan soldiers and because they had been observing sabbath in the temple all day they did not even know that they had passed through the village.
The commander of the SPDC troops then accused the villagers of not telling the truth and ordered his troops to find some sticks and beat the villagers. All the 25 merit makers were beaten up and 10 of them, 7 men and 3 women, suffered severe injuries so that there were stains of blood all over their white clothes.
After beating the villagers at Loi Khu village, the SPDC troops came to Wan Paang village, the main village of the village tract, and went straight to the temple where there were many people making merit and asked about the Shan soldiers.
The villagers said that some Shan soldiers did pass by the temple and even forced some villagers to go with them as guides. After hearing the villagers, the SPDC troops did nothing but returned to their military base.
On the same day, 9 July 2006, another patrol of 12 SPDC troops from the same battalion, LIB524, led by Lt. Hpyu Myint, came to Naa Khu Naa Pe village in Wan Paang village tract, Kun-Hing township, and beat up several villagers who were making merit at the village temple.
Villagers observing sabbath were gathered in the temple compound and interrogated by the SPDC troops about the Shan soldiers and slapped, beat and kicked by the troops when they could not answers their questions.
About 4-5 villagers were severely beaten up. One of them, Lung Laai Kham (m), aged 56, who was a caretaker of the temple, was so severely beaten and kicked in the waist that he could not stand up for several days.
After beating the merit makers at the temple, the SPDC troops went into the village and conscripted porters. Since there were only women and children in the village, as all the men had gone elsewhere, the troops took 5 women as porters.
The women had to carry military things and go with the troops until they reached Nam Khaam village, in the same village tract, near one of the motor roads in the area before they were released.
After about 10 days, on 19 July 2006, the village tract headman of Wan Paang tract, Lung Mae-Tha (m), aged 56, was arrested and detained by the SPDC troops of LIB524. On 21 July 2006, the secretary of Wan Paang tract, Lung Tin Awng (m), aged 55, and the village headman of Nam Khaam village, Lung Pan-Nya (m), were also arrested and detained.
On 22 July 2006, the village headman of Waeng Naang village, Lung Long (m), and the village headman of E-Kaw village (name not known), in Wan Paang village tract, were also arrested and detained at the base of LIB524.
All the said villagers were detained, interrogated and tortured at the base of LIB524 for many days. Since 2 August 2006, Lung Pan-Nya and the headman of E-Kaw village had not been seen by their fellow detainees, who were released after some time.
In fact, the said 2 men, or their bodies, have not been seen by anyone since 2 August 2006 up to the time of this report and are believed to have died during one of the torture sessions and their bodies were destroyed by the SPDC troops.
ARREST, DETENTION, SEVERE BEATING, TORTURE AND DISAPPEARANCEJ OF VILLAGERS, IN MURNG-NAI
During May and June 2006, several villagers were severely beaten up and tortured during interrogations by the SPDC troops from LIB576 in several separate incidents in the areas of Kaeng Tawng sub-township in Murng-Nai township, and some villagers disappeared after being taken away by the troops.
Following a skirmish in early May 2006 with a force of Shan resistance in Kaeng Tawng area, in which they suffered 3 dead and 2 injured, the SPDC troops interrogated several villagers working in their farms in the area for several weeks in an attempt to find out more about the Shan soldiers.
Several villagers who could not give the SPDC troops information they demanded were tortured and severely beaten up during the interrogations until they lost consciousness and were near dead.
The following are some of the incidents which SHRF received during the last few months:
On 3 May 2006, a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB576 arrested Lung Ma-La, male, aged 55, at his sesame farm in Ton Hung village tract, Kaeng Tawng sub-township. He was beaten from head to toe during interrogations and detained in the base of LIB576 at Pa Saa village in Nawng Hee village tract in Kaeng Tawng.
Although Lung Ma-La was later released after his village leaders and elders pleaded with the SPDC troops and guaranteed his innocence, he had suffered internal injuries from the beating and torture so severely that he would not likely be normal again, even if he survived.
On 24 May 2006, 2 villagers, Zaai Nya (m), aged 30 and Zaai Thaak (m), aged 20, from Paang Khaw village in Ton Hung village tract were working in their remote rice farm when a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB576 came towards their farm.
Zaai Nya, who was working not very far from the edge of the farm, saw the SPDC troops coming and he ran out of the farm and into the nearby forest, without warning Zaai Thaak about the approaching troops because he had no time.
Some of the SPDC troops shot after Zaai Nya, but missed, while some of them rushed into the farm and seized Zaai Thaak who was stunned by the sound of the gun shots and could not run away.
Zaai Thaak was taken into a hut in the farm, accused of being a Shan soldier and forced to answer questions about the Shan soldiers in the area. When Zaai Thaak could not answer because he did not know, the SPDC troops tortured him and beat him with a stick on the back so harshly that he lost consciousness.
When Zaai Thaak regained consciousness after several minutes, and the troops were about to start to interrogate and beat him again, one of the SPDC troops who brought up the rear of the patrol and had just arrived at the scene said he knew Zaai Thaak.
The soldier said Zaai Thaak was not a Shan soldier. He knew him because he had occasionally had a drink with him at his village some time ago. The SPDC troops then stopped the interrogation and left the farm.
On 9 June 2006, 2 villagers, Mae-Tha (m), aged 40 and Ma-La (m), aged 40, from Long Sur village in Ton Hung village tract were working their remote rice farm when a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB576 came.
The 2 villagers did not notice the approaching SPDC troops until they shot at them from the edge of the farm, but no one was hit. At the sound of the gun shots, Mae-Tha bolted for the nearby forest and escaped while Ma-La was captured by the troops.
Ma-La was interrogated about Shan soldiers and beaten by the SPDC troops for some time until he lost consciousness from the beating. The troops then left the unconscious body of Ma-La at the farm and continued to patrol the area.
When they reached Ho Ha village in Kun Mong village tract, the SPDC troops arrested a villager and interrogated him. The villager was Zaai Awng, male, aged 30, a Palaung villager of Ho Ha who was somewhat mentally disabled.
Zaai Awng could not answer any of the questions about the Shan soldiers asked by the SPDC troops and did not utter a word when he was beaten 2 times by his interrogator. The SPDC soldiers then tied his hands together and took Zaai Awng out of the village away with them.
Since then Zaai Awng had not returned to the village until the time this report was received in August. No one in his village knew whether he had been released or not, and if he was still alive or dead.
ARREST, DETENTION, BEATING AND DISAPPEARANCE IN KUN-HING
In early 2006, 2 villagers, husband and wife, from Ka Li village in Ka Li village tract, Kun-Hing township, who went searching for their draught oxen in the forest disappeared after being arrested by a patrol of SPDC troops from IB246.
On 17 January 2006, Ti-Ma and Naang Poi, husband and wife respectively, from Ka Li village went to look for their cows in the forest and ran into a patrol of about 30 SPDC troops from IB246, led by commander Min Kyaw, in the area of an old village, Wan Hung Naa Khawk (relocated).
At that moment, some forest gatherers, also from Ka Li village, happened to be in the area and when they saw the SPDC troops, it was too close for them to run away, so they just quietly slipped into the bushes and hid themselves.
>From where they were hiding, the villagers saw the SPDC troops interrogating the couple, Ti-Ma and Naang Poi. They saw the troops slap and kick the couple after every few minutes for about half-an-hour, and finally take the couple away with them as they leave the place.
Since then the couple have disappeared and were not seen again by the witnesses, who left Ka Li for the Thai border sometime in mid 2006.
ARREST, DETENTION AND SEVERE BEATING IN LARNG-KHUR
In July 2006, a villager was arrested, tied up and severely beaten up until he lost consciousness by SPDC troops from IB99, at Terng Kwaang village in Nawng Long village tract, Larng-Khur township.
On the evening of 8 July 2006, Zaai Ti (m), aged 19, was returning home from the Buddhist monastery when he ran into a patrol of about 15 SPDC troops from IB99 in the village. Zaai Ti was frightened and made a move as if to run away, but 2 of the SPDC troops jumped at him and wrestled him to the ground.
The SPDC troops asked Zaai Ti about news of Shan soldiers in the area but he could not tell them anything because he did not know. The troops then accused him of being a Shan soldier and tied him up with a rope, and beat and kicked him.
After being kicked and beaten for some time, Zaai Ti lost consciousness. When his father and some community leaders came, after being informed about the incident by other villagers, Zaai Ti was still tied up, unconscious.
The SPDC troops released Zaai Ti only after his father and community leaders guaranteed his innocence and pleaded with them for his release.
About 10 days later another villager who was returning from watching video at a friendขs house in the evening was also beaten up by the SPDC troops from IB99. Zaai Wan (m), aged 17, the victim, sustained serious injuries on the head from being struck by an electric torch by the troops.
SPDC troops from IB99, who were stationed at a camp some distance east of the village, were said to have occasionally come into Terng Kwaang village at night and often beat up villagers they found on the streets.
ARREST, DETENTION, FORCED RELOCATION AND EXTORTION IN MAWK-MAI
In July 2006, several community leaders were arrested and several villages were forcibly relocated, and money and pigs were extorted from the villagers, by the SPDC troops in Mawk-Mai township.
The following are some of the incidents that have been documented:
On 7 July 2006, a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB323 came to Nam Lawd village in Mawk-Mai township and arrested the village headman. The headman was accused of recruiting soldiers for the Shan resistance and later sentenced to 2 years in jail by the SPDC authorities.
On 10 July 2006, a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB323 came to Kaa Ha village and Paang Zurng village, and arrested the village tract headman, Lung Haeng Pan-Ta. The headman was accused of collecting money for the Shan resistance and detained at the military base.
Later, on 20 July 2006, the same patrol of SPDC troops came back to Kaa Ha and Paang Zurng villages and forcibly ordered them to move to a place near the Murng-Nai - Mawk-Mai main road. There were more than 80 houses in the 2 villages.
They also forced another 2 villages, Kho Mung and Mai Nao Saam Ton, to the same area near the main road between Murng-Nai and Mawk-Mai. Kho Mung village had more than 40 houses, while the numbers of houses in Mai Nao Saam Ton were not yet known.
The relocations of the villages were to be completed not later than 25 July 2006, said the order. Many other villages believed to be in the areas where Shan resistance was active were also said to have been forcibly moved to the Murng-Nai - Mawk-Mai main road.
On 17 July 2006, a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB363 came to Loi Kok, a Lisaw village, in Ho Loi village tract, Mawk-Mai township, and arrested 6 Lisaw villagers, together with 10 pigs, 3 motorcycles and 1-1/2 baskets of opium seeds, and took them to Murng-Nai township.
The 6 villagers were detained in Murng-Nai and a fine of 1,000,000 kyat for the release of each of them was demanded by the authorities. After they had paid the demanded fines, the 6 villagers were released and the 3 motorcycles were returned, but not the 10 pigs and the opium seeds.
ARREST, DETENTION AND EXTORTION IN MURNG-TON
In July 2006, a family of 4 villagers, parents and 2 daughters, were arrested, detained and money extorted from them by the SPDC troops from LIB519 manning a checkpoint at Saa-Laa village, a Salween river crossing point, in Wan Naa village tract, Murng-Ton township.
On 8 July 2006, a couple and their 2 daughters from Kun-Hing who were travelling on a bus from Murng-Pan to Murng-Ton were stopped and arrested by the SPDC troops at a checkpoint at Saa-Laa village in Murng-Ton township.
The villagers were from Laai Paang village in Ho Yaan village tract in Kun-Hing township. They were (not their real names) Mu-Lin, the father, aged 53, Pa Kaeng, the mother, aged 51, Naang Kham, the elder daughter, aged 17, and Naang Ku, the younger daughter, aged 14.
The family was taken to a pavilion at a Buddhist monastery in Saa-Laa village and detained there, with 2 SPDC troops standing guard around the clock. The villagers were fed only once a day with the leftovers from the meal of the troops during their detention.
After being detained for 4 days, from 8 to 11 July, an SPDC officer, with 3 stripes on each of his arms, came and told the family that they were being detained because they were believed to be going to Thailand and there were under-aged women among them.
There was a law prohibiting under-aged women from going to Thailand and if they really wanted to get through the checkpoint, they would have to pay a fine of 110,000 kyat for each of their daughters who were both under-aged, said the officer.
The villagers explained that the young women were only travelling with their parents and that was, they believed, permissible by law, and pleaded with the SPDC soldier to let them go. But the soldier said that they would have to return to where they had come if they could not pay the fine.
Not wanting to return to where they had come because life was unbearable, the villagers paid the SPDC troops 220,000 kyat for the 2 daughters in order to be able to continue their journey. However, they had to continue on foot until they reached the Thai border because they did not have enough money left to pay for transportation.
ARREST, DETENTION AND ROBBERY IN MURNG-NAI
In July 2006, a village headman was arrested and detained by SPDC troops from IB248, his musket was also stolen away from his house in Tawng Gyi village in Murng-Nai township.
On 24 July 2006, a patrol of about 60 SPDC troops came to Tawng Gyi village and arrested the headman, Lung Wi-Sa, after they found a musket and a small amount of opium seeds, about 2-3 litres, in his house.
The SPDC troops then ordered the villagers to gather and told them not to grow opium. Anyone found growing opium in the area would be dealt with immediately, said the order.
The headman was taken to the military base and tied up for one night as a punishment for possessing the opium seeds and the musket, which the SPDC troops had also taken away with them.
ARREST, DETENTION AND EXTORTION IN KAENG-TUNG
In early 2006, rice traders were arrested after money was extorted from them, and more money was again extorted from them for their release, by the SPDC troops of LIB314 in Kaeng-Tung township.
At Ta Ping village checkpoint, about 20 miles east of Kaeng-Tung town, 10 traders and 5 trucks laden with rice were stopped by the SPDC troops from LIB314 manning the checkpoint. The traders were accused of trading in rice without permission and threatened to be arrested.
The traders explained that they had already been given permission by the SPDC authorities, also from the same unit LIB314, manning the main checkpoint at the town exit after paying taxes for their goods, 30,000 kyat for each truck, 150,000 kyat in all.
But the SPDC troops at Ta Ping checkpoint said that it was not enough and demanded 10,000 kyat more from each truck. The traders had no choice but to pay the demanded money and ask permission to continue their journey.
But the SPDC troops did not let them go and after a while said that they had just received a wire message from their superiors to arrest the traders and send them with their trucks back to the base of LIB314 in Kaeng-Tung.
The 10 traders were later released after paying a fine of 30,000 kyat each to the authorities, but the fate of the 5 trucks and the rice was not yet known at the time this report was received. The traders expected to get back the trucks after paying some more fines, but not the rice.