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KHRG #97-01 Part 3/4 (Karenni)
UPDATE ON KARENNI FORCED RELOCATIONS
An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
March 5, 1997 / KHRG #97-01
*** PART 3 OF 4: SEE PREVIOUS AND SUBSEQUENT POSTINGS FOR OTHER PARTS ***
[SOME DETAILS OMITTED OR REPLACED BY 'XXXX' FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.]
NAME: "Klaw Reh" SEX: M AGE: about 30-35 Kayah Christian (RC)
FAMILY: Widower, 1 daughter aged 10, another died long ago
and wife died while pregnant
ADDRESS: Daw Mi Ku village (#55), Shadaw Township INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97
["Klaw Reh"'s wife died along with their unborn child along the way,
while the family was fleeing Shadaw relocation camp for the Thai border.]
I don't remember exactly when I arrived here [the camp registration book
says it was 10/10/96]. SLORC sent a letter to order us to move. When we
received the order, I called my family and we went to Shadaw. I stayed
there for two months. In Shadaw, they forced me to cut bamboo. Each
family had to cut 100 big bamboos for the army camp and also 3 wooden
posts for lights along the road. The bamboo were for building fences in the
camp and for [army camp] buildings.
I could only build a tiny house for my family. The SLORC only gave 100
shingles of roof leaves [enough to cover a roof about 5 feet square, and
even these were probably demanded from local villagers]. In the rainy
season the rain was leaking through the roof. And we had to find the
bamboo ourselves [to build the houses, in addition to the bamboo they
were ordered to cut for the Army]. We stayed in a big place and there was
a fence around it. I received 30 milk tins of rice per week for my family.
For about two months. After that, no more. When we had no more food,
SLORC allowed us to go and get some in our village. My daughter got
sick. She was coughing.
I escaped from Shadaw through the fence with my wife and my daughter.
My wife was well. When we escaped from Shadaw, she was well. She
was pregnant, about 4 months pregnant. First we went back to our village.
It was still in good condition. We spent one night there, but not in the
village, we hid in the jungle. But when we got near Tee Cha camp, my
wife became sick. She became very tired and had pain in her belly. She
died during the night. I stayed the night near her. In the morning,
I buried her at that place. Then I continued the journey with my daughter to
come here. I saw many villagers on the way here. I also saw 4 villages on
the way. Three of them had been burned down by the SLORC. Only one was
not burned down but nobody was staying there. I didn't meet any SLORC
on the way. Here I feel safer because it is not under the SLORC. But I
don't know anything about the future.
NAME: "Nga Reh" SEX: M AGE: 28 Kayah Buddhist farmer
ADDRESS: Daw Tama Gyi village, Deemawso Township INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97
["Nga Reh"'s village, just north of Baw La Keh on the west side of the Pon
River, is being used as a relocation site.]
I arrived here about two months ago. My village was not ordered to move
but SLORC soldiers arrested many people. I was very afraid of them. And
we had to do a lot of loke ah pay [forced labour] for them. So I left my
Other villages were ordered to move to Daw Tama Gyi. I don't know
whether they received an order or not but I know that the SLORC soldiers
forced the other villages to stay together in Daw Tama Gyi. It was at the
beginning of the rainy season. I saw more than 300 people. They were
from 4 villages, Daw Kaw, Daw Par, Daw Ta Kya and Daw Hei Kleh.
They had to stay in a separate place near Daw Tama Gyi, only for the new
people. They built shelters there. It was very difficult for them to find
bamboo and to build houses. The SLORC didn't give them anything with
which to build a house. There was no fence around the place but many
SLORC soldiers were always checking and guarding the new people. They
were not allowed to go out freely.
The food was not enough. Each family received only 3 milktins of rice per
week. The people could do nothing. They just boiled the rice to make a
rice soup. The water was not good. It came out of a pipe from Daw Ku
Kay village. I saw a lot of sick people. Some died from disease. Most of
them had fever. The SLORC soldiers forced them to work every day, to
clear the car road and to make fences for the security of their camp. They
are making a new car road. I saw some cars on it. People cannot run away
from Daw Tama Gyi.
I was arrested when I was in my house in my village. That happened about
3 months before the new villagers arrived to Daw Tama Gyi. SLORC
forced me to build a fence for their camp. I could not do it. They ordered
us to go every day and sometimes I was absent. So they called me and they
beat me three times on my back with a bamboo stick. Even before the new
people came, we had to do labour all the time. Building the fences,
working on the car road. We had to do work for the SLORC every day.
We didn't get paid for it. We had no chance to work on our farms. The
SLORC ordered us to work for 10 days and then we had only one day for
ourselves to grow our paddy and other things. The new people also have to
do the same work all the time for the SLORC. They don't have any land
I was afraid of the SLORC, so I came here with two of my brothers: an
elder brother and a younger one. We came here on foot. We climbed the
mountains and we crossed the Salween river by boat. We didn't meet any
soldiers on the way. We saw two villages on the way: Daw Kraw Aw and
Daw Mu Kya. Both had been burnt down by the SLORC. SLORC
soldiers are not good to the people. That is why I came here. What will
happen, I don't know!
NAME: "Baw Reh" SEX: M AGE: 19 Kayah Buddhist farmer
FAMILY: Single, 6 brothers and sisters, studied until 6th Standard
ADDRESS: Daw Law Ku village (#154), Deemawso Township INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97
["Baw Reh" spent several months in Tee Po Kloh relocation camp.]
I arrived here on 16/1/1997. First I went to stay in XXXX, then I
came over here. Daw Law Ku villagers had to move to Tee Po Kloh. I
think it was in July [around mid-June]. They gave us only 3 days to move.
My family moved together to Tee Po Kloh. It was one day's walk away.
We had to make 3 trips. Some people had to carry their things by
themselves and some used bullock carts. It was in the hills but a cart could
be used on the way. In Tee Po Kloh, we received a plot of land to build a
house. It was not too small. I could even grow things there if they would
let me, but the SLORC didn't allow us to grow vegetables. This area used
to be farmland. The Tee Po Kloh villagers didn't receive anything for it.
Eleven villages moved to Tee Po Kloh, including Daw Law Ku, Daw Pet,
Daw Preh Tu, Daw Lyah Ku, Daw Put, Tee Theh Kloh, etc... I don't
know how many people there were. In my village, there were 26 houses.
Everybody moved to Tee Po Kloh. I don't know why the SLORC ordered
us to move. They didn't burn our village down but the villagers didn't go
The place was not fenced [later there was a fence]. The soldiers have a
camp in Tee Po Kloh. I think it is Battalion #421 but I am not sure. Each
person received only 4 or 5 milktins of rice for one month [this is only
enough for 2 days]. If it was not enough, they allowed people to find food
outside, but just for a limited time, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. We could go
back to our village but we had to get a pass. It was free. The validity of
the pass depends on the village. If the village was very far away they
allowed 2 or 3 days, but if the village was near Tee Po Kloh they allowed
less time. If we overstayed, we would be tortured by the soldiers. I saw
people being beaten because the SLORC suspected them. They arrested them,
beat them, and put them in jail. Sometimes they even killed them. No one
from my village was killed but some Tee Po Kloh villagers were.
We got water from the well [the existing village well]. It was enough for
everyone but it was not clean. Many people got sick. I don't know from
which diseases. Some people died, especially children. There was no
clinic. The only possibility is to go to the city hospital [at Deemawso
Some people escaped from there, mainly single men. I stayed in Tee Po
Kloh for 7 months [actually less than that]. The situation was getting
worse and worse because there was not enough food. People who owned
animals sold them to get money to buy food. My family already sold our
two cows and our buffalo.
We also had to repair the car road, the road from Deemawso to Tee Po
Kloh to Daw Tama Gyi. I worked there for 3 days. They called one
person from each family. They fixed a period of time. Each village had to
finish one section of the road within 3 days. In Tee Po Kloh, there is
nothing to do [to earn money]. I went to Ngwe Daung to do farm work
with my relatives. They have a farm in XXXX [near Deemawso]. I
went alone. I worked there for about 4 months [actually less than that]. I
couldn't stay there for a long time because SLORC soldiers might come into
the village and arrest people. From Ngwe Daung I came here on foot. It
was 9 days' walk. I saw some soldiers on the way but they didn't do
anything. I saw some villages and almost all of them were burnt down. All
the villages I passed were empty.
My family is still staying in Tee Po Kloh. I would like to call them to come
here, but if I call them SLORC will torture all the villagers in Tee Po Kloh.
My family is registered on their list. Also, it would be very difficult for
me to go back there. Now I have no plans. I don't think this refugee camp
very good but I don't know where else I could go. So I will stay here.
NAME: "Koo Ni Reh" SEX: M AGE: 24 Kayah Buddhist farmer
FAMILY: Single, 3 brothers and sisters
ADDRESS: Daw Law Ku village (#161), Pruso Township INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97
["Koo Ni Reh" spent 7 months in Mar Kraw She relocation camp.]
SLORC told us to move to Mar Kraw She village, beside the road which
goes to Pah Saung town. Only my village had to move there. It has 20
houses. The other villages like Tee Theh Ku, Daw Ku Li and Law Pya Leh
had to move to Kay Lia and Daw Ter Kleh had to move to Tee Bya Nge.
They frightened us, they said "If you want to die, don't come. If you don't
want to die, you must move to that place." We were afraid that if we went
to any other places the SLORC would kill us. And if we didn't go to do
their loke ah pay [forced labour], we were afraid we would die.
When we were ordered to move, we could carry all our belongings except
our cattle. Later the SLORC allowed us to go and look after them during
the daytime but in the evening we had to be back in the new place. The
SLORC didn't burn down my village, but nothing is remaining there except
for some animals. The troops often pass through the village.
My family moved and they put us beside Mar Kraw She village. It was not
a good place because each family only received a plot of land 12 feet by 12
feet. We could only build a small shelter, only big enough for sleeping.
They didn't give any roofing leaves, so we had to get them from the Mar
Kraw She villagers. We went by ourselves to cut the bamboo and trees to
build shelters. We had to go back to our village to get them. They didn't
order us to build a fence around the new place, but they ordered us to build
a fence around their Army camp. They ordered us to cut bamboo and
make a fence, to cut trees along the road and clear the car road.
There were a lot of sick people. There was no clinic there. When people
were sick, they went to see the priest and he gave them some medicine.
>From July until December we didn't receive any rice. After that, I don't
know as I wasn't there any more. When we had no rice to eat, we wanted
to go back to our village. But then the SLORC saw us [leaving] and they
asked: "Who gave you permission to go back to your village?" We were
afraid of them and we couldn't do anything anymore. For 7 months, the
SLORC didn't give any rice to us. That's why I ran away. I escaped
through the fence. I knew if they saw me they would beat me. They only
allowed us to go out from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. If we came back later than
that, they would torture us.
I arrived here this month, on foot. I am the only one from my village. In
our village, many people would like to come here, but they have no way to
come because they are afraid of the SLORC soldiers. If the soldiers see us
coming here in groups, it will not be easy for us. My family wants to come
here very much but they cannot, because the names of every family are
already on their list. If you want to come here, you must lie to them.
NAME: "Nyi Reh" SEX: M AGE: about 40 Kayah Buddhist
ADDRESS: Thirida village (#19/20), Shadaw Township INTERVIEWED: 12/96
["Nyi Reh" is one of the internally displaced villagers now in an area
where villages have not been forced to move because the area is covered
by a ceasefire agreement with a resistance group. Over 200 displaced
families, totalling over 1,100 people, are scattered among at least 5
villages in this particular area. Most of them are from Shadaw area and
have fled to avoid relocation to Shadaw relocation camp.]
The villagers who moved to the SLORC relocation places don't get any
help. In Nwa La Bo camp they got some rice, but here we do not get any
assistance. No food, no building material. I think there must be about
1,000 people in this area. Some people have finished building their houses
but others are still staying with the local villagers. We brought some rice
with us, but some people couldn't. We couldn't bring our livestock because
there is no pasture land here, so we left them in our own village. We have
to try to find food for ourselves. We have a lack of rice and salt, and we
cannot find bamboo to build our houses. Before we had work, but now we
don't. In this area, it is very difficult to find new land for
cultivation as most of the land is already owned by the local people. We are
now facing many difficulties for food as well as for health and education for
our children. Some children are now going to xxxx school but some cannot.
We have to provide the books for them ourselves.
We would like to stay in our own village. If the situation improves we will
go back. Here we have no farm and no money. I wonder when we will be
able to go back.
NAME: "Saw Ler Wah" SEX: M AGE: about 30 Karen
[This information was given by a human rights monitor who had just
returned from the Maw Chi/Buko township area of southern Karenni.]
Buko is not a relocation site. The villages in that area were ordered to
move to Maw Chi relocation site. Shortly after the relocation, SLORC burnt
down half the houses of Buko, about 30 houses, and 50 houses in Kwachi.
Many people are staying in the forest, 2 or 3 families together. They
managed to harvest a little paddy this year. The SLORC operation took
place in the rainy season. At that time the villagers had already planted
their paddy, but since they had to go into hiding they could not take care of
their fields. Although weeds grew in the fields, they managed to harvest
some paddy, but obviously the harvest was not good. Their paddy can last
them for another 2-3 months, then they will face a big shortage of rice.
Especially in Buko area, where paddy cultivation has always been difficult
and the farmers need many paddy seeds. In that area it will be harder to
survive. If SLORC come again during the field clearing season [February
to April], they will face big problems for the next harvest. The villagers
find vegetables in the jungle and they also manage to grow some, like
cucumbers. They've eaten all their animals like chickens and pigs, and most
of their cattle and buffaloes have already been sold. Also, during its
operations SLORC killed and ate any cattle they found.
In the forest there are many illnesses. The worst is malaria, but also worms,
respiratory disease, diarrhoea, dysentery and skin diseases. I heard about
two children from the same family who died the same day because of
malaria and anaemia. They were coming from Maw Chi relocation site.
SLORC deliberately burnt down the villages they thought were important
for the rebels. They also burnt down the best houses in other villages, and
all the rice barns they could find. Some villages were not burnt down but
landmines were laid.
After the relocations, SLORC moved into Ler Mu Ko township and Bwe
Ghaw Ko township and searched the area. They passed through Baw Ghu
Der township and also burnt down some houses and put landmines there,
but this was not a special operation. Some people have been killed,
including women, because they stepped on landmines. The SLORC didn't
search for the people in the jungle.
In Maw Chi relocation site, the people need permission from the SLORC to
go back to their fields, to work and bring rice to the relocation site. The
pass costs 5 Kyats and is valid from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. So the villagers
go back, but it is dangerous because of the landmines - not only SLORC
landmines, also KNPP landmines. Some have died because they stepped
SLORC gives 8 milktins of rice per person for one week [less than half
what is needed to survive]. The rice brought back by the villagers from
their villages must be given to the rice bank, and the SLORC redistributes it
to the people at the same rate - 8 tins per person per week [i.e. no one can
get more than that no matter what]. It is very difficult to get salt and
medicine. They cannot go to Maw Chi to get salt. At present they must go
to Toungoo, which is far. In the relocation site people die from disease
because there is no health care. There is only one clinic in Maw Chi.
There is not enough medicine and people need to pay for it. There is no
There are 3 SLORC bases in Maw Chi and one inside the relocation site.
There are about 1,000 people in Maw Chi relocation site. The people were
ordered to build a fence around the relocation area. In Pah Saung too,
there is a fence around the relocation site and the people were ordered to
build it. SLORC orders the people to work: to guard the area, to build their
bunkers and fences, and some people have to go as porters. According to
the villagers, SLORC is rebuilding the Toungoo/Maw Chi road and clearing
the area for logging, but I didn't see or hear about any road building going
on right now.
They also threaten people. Recently KNPP destroyed a water pipe for the
mine generator [Maw Chi is an important mining area] and the SLORC
forced the people from the Maw Chi relocation site to rebuild it. About 40
to 50 people have fled the relocation site and went to stay in other villages
away from the SLORC.
The Attack on Camp 2
Most of the refugees who flee the forced relocations and make it to
Thailand end up in Camp 2, a Karenni refugee camp just across the
border in Thailand's Mae Hong Son province. At 2 a.m. on 3 January
1997, a force of between 20 and 50 men crossed into Thailand and
attacked Camp 2, firing assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, M79
grenades, 60 mm. mortars and 2-inch mortars. At least 5 grenades were
fired, some of them deliberately into groups of houses around the camp
monastery. The random firing continued for about 15 minutes in Section
3 of the camp. Three refugees were killed, 2 men and one woman, and at
least 9 refugees were wounded. The dead were Ei Pyin (a.k.a. Naung
Kyin, female, age 19), Ai Pon (male, age 30), and U Baw Ga (male, age
60, died of his wounds afterward at Mae Hong Son hospital). The
wounded included "Sai Long" (male, 24, see interview below), the baby
daughter of "Sai Long" and Ei Pyin, Ai Ree (19), San Phone (50), Ai Lin
(47), Nam Myint (14), Par Mai (47), Ai Kyar (40), Myint Oo (47), Oo
Meh (31), and Ei Ket (32) [Source: Green November 32].
A statement and uniform left behind after the attack indicated that it had
been carried out by the Karenni National Democratic Army (KNDA),
armed wing of the Karenni National Democratic Party (KNDP). This
'splinter' organisation was formed on 5 November 1996 and allied itself
with SLORC to fight against the KNPP. While it claims to be independent,
many people believe it was initiated by SLORC to divide the KNPP and as
a front for use in attacking Thailand, just as the Democratic Kayin
Buddhist Army (DKBA) has been used to attack Karen refugee camps
further south. Some refugees and KNPP officials believe that the attackers
were actually SLORC soldiers using the name of KNDA and KNDP, which
are both based near Deemawso, far from the area of Camp 2. KNPP
sources have accused SLORC Light Infantry Battalion #84 or #302 of
conducting the attack. "Sai Long", interviewed below, is a refugee in
Camp 2. His wife Naung Kyin (a.k.a. Ei Pyin) was killed in the attack on
NAME: "Sai Long" SEX: M AGE: 24 Shan Buddhist
FAMILY: Married, 1 daughter aged 2 1/2 years
ADDRESS: Meh Steh vlg, Soe T'Cheh township INTERVIEWED: 21/1/97
I have been staying here for about 10 months. I came to the refugee camp
because the SLORC forced me to move out of my village and because of
SLORC oppression. In the past I used to live in Meh Steh village. The
SLORC burnt down the houses in my village and then I went to another
place called Pan Yone [previous site of Karenni Camp 2 refugee camp].
On 3/1/1997, when the Burmese came here, I was staying in my house.
The fighting started at 2 a.m. At first, I heard a big explosion and I saw
sparks coming out. I didn't see the soldiers. I don't know how many they
were and what kind of guns they had. They didn't warn us. They came
quietly into the camp. I suddenly heard shooting. I just took my child and
ran to escape. I started running along the narrow path between the houses.
My wife was behind. I only know that the bullets flew very close to my
house. Near my house, three shells [by other reports, apparently M79
grenades] exploded. We shouted and my wife cried out in tears when she
saw her father running. The firing stopped when she cried like that. But
she was hit and fell down. She fell near the door of our house. The shell
exploded in front of our house. She was wounded on her legs, stomach
and arms and soon after she died because of haemorrhage. Her name is
Naung Kyin and she was 19 years old. I was also hit on my right elbow
and my child got a small injury on her foot.
The attack lasted about 15 minutes: shooting and explosions. I didn't see
the Burmese after the fighting [he was hiding]. After the attack, I had to
wait for a long time for someone to carry my wife because I myself couldn't
walk. I also had an injury on my leg, so I just looked for some other people
to carry her after the fighting stopped. I waited for two hours and then
some people carried my wife to the hospital, and soon after she died there.
I cannot think or guess why the Burmese attacked this camp. Now my
wound is better but I can only bend my elbow a little bit. As for my
daughter, she can walk again now. I have no other place to stay, so I can't
think or decide whether I should stay or not stay now. I am really afraid to
stay in Camp 2 anymore. I want to stay with my parents-in-law who moved
to Camp 3 on the Thai side [away from the disputed border, further into
- [END OF PART 3 - SEE SUBSEQUENT POSTING FOR PART 4] -
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