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KHRG #97-05 Part 1/2 (Camp attacks)


	An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
		March 18, 1997     /     KHRG #97-05


This report covers 4 of the main attacks on Karen refugee camps in 
Thailand which occurred in January 1997: the burning and destruction of 
Huay Kaloke and Huay Bone refugee camps on the night of 28 January, 
the armed attack on Beh Klaw refugee camp on the morning of 29 
January, and the shelling of Sho Kloh refugee camp on 4 January.  These 
attacks left several people dead and about 10,000 refugees homeless and 
completely destitute.  Even now, Huay Kaloke and Huay Bone remain 
nothing but open plains of dust and ash under the hot sun.  No one feels 
safe to remain in these places, but the Thai authorities are forcing them to.
Huay Bone's over 3,000 refugees have either fled to Beh Klaw or have 
been forced to move to Huay Kaloke, and the Thai authorities still have a 
plan to move Sho Kloh's over 6,000 refugees to Beh Klaw, which is unsafe 
and already overcrowded with over 25,000 people.  Refugees in other 
camps are also living in fear; Maw Ker refugee camp 50 km. south of Mae 
Sot has been constantly threatened with destruction, as has Mae Khong 
Kha refugee camp much further north in Mae Sariang district.  People in 
these camps often end up spending their nights in the forests or 
countryside surrounding their camps, not daring to sleep in their homes at 

Since 1995 the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a Karen group 
allied with and supplied by SLORC, has been destroying and threatening 
to destroy refugee camps [see the related reports "SLORC's Northern 
Karen Offensive" (KHRG #95-10, 29/3/95), "New Attacks on Karen 
Refugee Camps" (KHRG #95-16, 5/5/95), "DKBA/SLORC Cross-
Border Attacks" (KHRG #96-31, 1/8/96), and "Inside the DKBA" 
(KHRG #96-14, 31/3/96) ].  However, the DKBA primarily operates as 
small local groups loosely attached to SLORC Army units, and simply 
does not have the command structure to organise and coordinate large-
scale attacks on several refugee camps such as the simultaneous attacks 
on Huay Kaloke, Huay Bone and Beh Klaw of 28-29 January.  SLORC 
planning was clearly involved in these attacks, and refugees who were in 
the camps testify that SLORC soldiers formed a large part of the attacking 
forces.  Thai forces did nothing whatsoever to defend Huay Kaloke and 
Huay Bone, and in fact the Thai security forces withdrew well before the 
attacks in both cases, indicating that they were probably informed in 
advance and deliberately colluded in these flagrant violations of Thai 

DKBA's interest in attacking the camps is to try to terrorize the refugees 
into returning to Burma to form a civilian support base for them, while 
SLORC's interest is not only to terrorize the refugees but also to create an 
excuse for the Thai government to conduct forced repatriation "to protect 
Thai national security", thus removing the refugees as an international 
source of embarrassment to SLORC and simultaneously providing SLORC 
with a captive population for forced labour and extortion in the region.  
However, for the vast majority of refugees these attacks simply strengthen 
their determination not to be forced back to Burma until they can do so in 
safety and dignity and with basic guarantees of human rights.

This report consists of summaries of the 4 attacks and interviews with 
witnesses and victims who were there.  The interviews were conducted by 
KHRG, and much of the other information was provided by independent 
contacts.  The names of those interviewed have been changed and some 
details omitted in order to protect them, and false names have been 
enclosed in quotes.


Huay Kaloke Camp ...............................................  2
	Interview #1:  Witness to the attack ...................  4
Huay Bone Camp .................................................  7
	Interview #2:  Witness to the attack ...................  8
Beh Klaw Camp .................................................. 12
	Interview #3:  Witness to the attack ................... 13
Sho Kloh Camp .................................................. 14
	Interview #4:  Wife of refugee killed by the shelling .. 14
	Interview #5:  Refugee wounded by mortar shrapnel ...... 16
Map ............................................................ 17


		      Huay Kaloke (Wan Kha) Camp

At about 10:15 p.m. on 28 January, a force estimated at 150-200 soldiers 
attacked Huay Kaloke refugee camp, which has a population of 6,576 (as 
of Feb. 1997) and is located 10 km. north of the Thai town of Mae Sot, on 
flat open land surrounded by ricefields and Thai villages.  The force came 
on foot from Kawmoora, a former Karen National Union (KNU) position 
which was captured by SLORC in February 1995.  Kawmoora is 3 km. to 
the west, on the opposite bank of the Moei River (the river is the border).

The attacking force entered the camp in 2 groups, one group of 30-40 
troops through Section 7 of the camp into Section 5, and the other group of 
over 100 across the ricefields and into the market section of the camp (the 
market section on the north side of the camp is populated by refugees, but 
they do not receive relief supplies because they have shops).  The group 
entering the market then split up, some of them heading for the main part of 
the camp and others going through the market, forcing their way into 
houses and shops and looting everything.  The group that went to the main 
part of the camp went first to the clinic and demanded the microscope (in 
every attack on refugee camps, the troops are clearly under direct orders to 
'get the microscope', presumably for the clinic at DKBA headquarters in 
Myaing Gyi Ngu.  They always ask for it, and in some refugee camps when 
attacks are expected they remove all the medicines but leave a token 
microscope to appease the attackers).  Getting one microscope, they 
smashed the other and then set the clinic on fire.  Others went to the camp 
leader's house, the school, and other houses and set them all on fire.

The entire camp consists of bamboo huts with leaf or thatch roofing all 
packed close together, so the fires swept through the camp at high speed.  
People fled their houses in confusion, most of them just trying to get their 
children out and having no time to save any belongings whatsoever.  Some 
refugees claim that when the attackers saw them pulling belongings out of 
their houses, they ordered them to put them back and let them burn.  In the 
market, a woman shopkeeper who was fleeing was stopped by a DKBA 
soldier, who searched her and found gold hidden on her body and in her 
bag.  Shouting the Karen equivalent of "I've hit the jackpot!" he fired his 
weapon into the air.  Troops throughout the camp were firing into the air to 
terrorize the refugees.  After they finished looting the market they set it 
on fire as well, but only half of it burned.

The attackers were all dressed in black or in camouflage.  According to the 
refugees, many appeared to be high on 'yah ma' (also known as 'myin say', 
or 'horse medicine' - a strong opiate/amphetamine combination which comes in 
tablet form and is broken up and smoked, making the user highly aggressive, 
fearless and stupid for up to 24 hours).   All had blackened faces so it 
was difficult for the refugees to identify their origins.  According to 
some refugees, those in black appeared to be SLORC soldiers and were 
carrying G3 and G4 assault rifles, which are SLORC weapons (Karen 
soldiers almost never use these weapons even if they capture them, 
considering them unwieldy and unreliable), while those in camouflage may 
have been DKBA and were carrying an assortment of M16 and AK47 
assault rifles and other weapons typical of Karen soldiers.  Witnesses 
estimate that there were 20-40 Karens and the rest were all SLORC 
soldiers.  Some attackers spoke to the refugees in Karen, while others spoke 
in Burmese.  Generally, those speaking Karen requested that shopkeepers 
open their doors, while those speaking Burmese just smashed them down.  
Some soldiers speaking Karen called to people to "Run quickly!" while 
others speaking Burmese would call out, "Don't run or we'll shoot!"  One 
DKBA soldier told some children fleeing toward the ricefields, "Don't go 
that way, the Burmese will shoot you".  Traces such as bootmarks, etc. 
found in the following days suggest that a larger force of entirely SLORC 
soldiers was waiting in the surrounding fields for reinforcement.

The attackers moved around the camp with complete impunity for at least 
one or two hours.  Bamboo burns very hot and very quickly, so by about 
midnight some of the fires were beginning to diminish and some people 
were starting to return to the ashes of their homes and belongings. 70 to 80 
percent of the camp was completely destroyed, leaving just a hot open plain 
of dust and ashes.  Contrary to propaganda reports in the Thai media, there 
was no assistance from Thai firefighters in Mae Sot.  At about 11 p.m. 
refugees saw 2 large firefighting trucks and one smaller vehicle approach 
the camp with lights and sirens - according to one refugee, "Then I thought 
my house could be saved".  However, the trucks stopped at the main 
entrance to the camp, probably to have photos and video taken for the Thai 
media, and a few minutes later returned to Mae Sot.  (Note: performing for 
the cameras like this is a normal tactic of the Thai military, border patrol 
and other arms of authority.)

There was no attempt whatsoever by the Thai military to defend the camp, 
the surrounding Thai villages, or Thai sovereignty whatsoever.  In fact, 9 
hours before the attack at 1 p.m. the Thai Commando unit stationed at the 
main entrance of the camp had already evacuated themselves and all of their 
equipment, obviously with foreknowledge of the attack.  Only one or two 
soldiers remained until later in the afternoon in order to continue extorting

the usual 10 Baht from each refugee who walks out of the camp, and 
presumably also so that the refugees would not notice that anything was 
amiss.  These soldiers then left later in the afternoon, leaving the area 
undefended.  Refugees who rushed to the post to notify the soldiers when 
the attack began found it abandoned.  It remained abandoned for several 
days, during which one angry Thai villager wrote on it in Thai, "The Thai 
Army eats and sleeps well, but they are not worth the rice they eat."  In 
Thai, this is considered quite a powerful insult.

Astoundingly, the only casualty was reportedly one woman who fell ill due 
to high blood pressure.  However, almost everyone lost everything they had.  
Over a month later, they are still living in the dirt and the ashes.  For a 
long time no one dared stay in the camp at night and camped out in the 
surrounding fields.  Everyone wants to move to a safer location, but the 
Thai authorities say they will not allow this, even though DKBA members 
in Kawmoora have already told some of their relatives in Huay Kaloke, "If 
anyone builds there we'll come again and burn it".  The Thai Army returned 
after several days and immediately began extorting money from the 
refugees under various pretexts as usual, and began reallocating plots for 
new houses to be built - much smaller than before, only 8 x 12 metres per 
family, with one latrine for every 3 families.  Despite this, the Thai 
authorities immediately increased the 'rent' which each refugee family has to

pay for the square of dirt their house is built on.
			      Interview #1.

NAME:    "Naw Tha Muh"    SEX: F    AGE: 19              Karen, no religion
FAMILY:  Single
ADDRESS: Huay Kaloke refugee camp, Thailand              INTERVIEWED: 1/2/97

["Naw Tha Muh" was in Huay Kaloke refugee camp when it was attacked 
by a combined SLORC/DKBA force on 28 January 1997.  Note that as a 
shopkeeper in the market, she is much better off than most refugees.]

On 28th January 1997, the DKBA came into the camp.  I don't know the 
exact time because I had no watch.  It must have been past 10 p.m.  After I 
had watched television, I went to bed.  My house was in the market [her 
house is also a shop selling mainly clothing].  I was sleeping when my 
mother woke me up, and the first thing I heard was jungle boots running 
ti...ti...ti... and chasing the people who were running here and there.   
They came across the football field.  I didn't know what was happening.  
Just then, DKBA soldiers kicked the door strongly with their boots and said: 
"Open the door!".  I didn't open it and went to the back of the house, but 
the DKBA soldiers were also at the back of  the house.  When I came face 
to face with them, they asked me: "Where are you going?"  I didn't answer 
and went back to the front of the house.  My mother was so worried for 
me.  She said "Don't run anywhere!"  Then the DKBA soldiers turned their 
guns on us and said: "All of you!  Go back to the front of the house."  At 
that time there were some guests staying with us.  We were 7 in the house, 
all females, and we didn't say anything, so the DKBA didn't do anything to 

Seven soldiers came to my house.  My mother had hidden one bag that they 
didn't find, and they didn't find the money we had hidden either.  They only 
saw the box with a little money in it.  They took all the money from the 
small box.  They also opened my handbag and took the money there as 
well.  Altogether, they took some coins, 2,000 Baht, and mostly clothes, 
also shoes, small knives and a flask.  They put the clothes from the shop 
into bags.  The plastic bags were from my shop too and they carried them 
out themselves [they didn't use porters].     

My mother told a DKBA soldier who looked about 20 years old: "Child, 
take everything you want but please do not burn our house down!".  But the 
soldier pointed his gun at her and said: "Do you want to die, old woman?"  
A girl who was in my house begged the soldier: "Please don't do anything to 
Grandmother!  She is old!"  They also took the tehku [sarong] and clothes 
off an old man in my house and searched for something they expected to 
find on him, like gold or money, but they didn't find anything.  They took 
everything they wanted and then they moved to another house, my friend's 

The DKBA came into the camp, group by group, house to house, 
simultaneously.   I heard that the same was going on at the other houses 
too.  40 Baht was taken from my auntie's house.  Her husband was kicked 
with boots too.  They ordered everyone to get out of their houses without 
taking anything out and then they started burning the houses.

The DKBA went to the biggest shop and pointed their gun barrels at Uncle 
[an older man].  They questioned him about the key and the money.  They 
took a lot of money from him, about 500,000 Kyats, plus the golden rings, 
chains, and bracelets which belonged to others that they had given as 
guarantees for borrowing money from Uncle.  They also used his 

They took everything they wanted such as clocks, watches, cassettes, radios, 
clothes, and they even searched for things in the brassieres of the girls and

the women.  They expected to find things such as gold and money.  They 
took off earrings, bracelets and chains from two girls.  One was Karen and 
the other Chinese.  Then the soldiers questioned a 50-year-old man who is 
insane, and hit his head with a rifle butt.  He got a wound and the blood 
streamed down his head.  The question was only: "Are you a soldier?"  And 
the mad man only answered: "What?".  Only for this!  

I also heard that Nya Nya Say's father got kicked on his chest with their 
boots when DKBA demanded gold and money from him.  Nya Nya Say is 
a student.  I saw that they took two motorcycles from others but people said 
that 7 motorcycles were taken altogether.  They left some motorcycles in 
the paddy fields because there is no road through the fields and they were 
unable to push them further.  For some others, they didn't have the key to 
start the engine, so they just broke apart the dashboards and lights and 
destroyed the motorcycles on their way back to their camp.  They also took 
the telephone.

After the soldiers went out, they started to set the houses on fire.  I said 
to my mother: "Mother, the DKBA are burning the houses!"  She thought 
they wouldn't burn them but then she saw the other shops burning.

I went down to my motorcycle to move it away from the fire and because I 
was afraid that DKBA would take it.  They took the motorcycle from an 
Indian house, but I had kept the keys for ours inside and they hadn't seen it

because it was kept at the back of the house.  My mother helped me to pull 
it.  Then they saw me pushing the motorcycle.  Two DKBA soldiers came 
towards me to ask or do something to me.  They said: "Where are you 
going?"  I thought they would take the motorcycle, but another DKBA 
soldier helped me and called them.  They turned back.  They didn't have a 
chance to do anything to me.  I don't know why.  Maybe because we have 
been selling goods for a long time and they knew us.  They didn't do 
anything to my mother either. When some soldiers pointed their guns at her, 
the others disagreed.  Then they left her.  I noticed they didn't speak
to her.  They only asked: "Do you have money?" and didn't harm her.  As 
for other people, they beat them when they demanded money.

I rode down to the Thai checkpoint. But I didn't see any Thai soldiers at the

checkpoint.  No one was there.  Then I went to the other Thai gate and 
tried to wake them up.  Only one policeman awoke.  I told him that the 
DKBA were burning the houses and looting things from the refugees.  But 
he didn't seem to understand, and he asked me: "What is the DKBA?"  
"The DKBA means the Buddhist soldiers", I said.  Then he understood but 
he didn't do anything or say anything.  So I got angry and immediately rode 
to another police gate at Mae Pa [a larger Thai village very near the 
camp].  The police told me: "We already know and we have contacted the 
other posts."  On my way to Mae Sot, we saw one or two cars with people 
in them between Mae Pa and Huay Kaloke.  Maybe they were coming 
around to look at the fire.  I didn't see any soldiers, just ordinary cars.  
I went to call my teacher in Mae Sot.  When we arrived back at the camp, we 
saw that the people were all here and there in disorder and that the houses 
were burning with really huge flames.

My mother had taken as many things as she could and put them down into 
the well when the DKBA started burning the houses.  My house was also 
burnt down by DKBA.  My mother told me that they came inside the 
houses, searched for things to light the fire with, then set the fires from 
inside the houses.  I didn't see that because I ran to the Thai checkpoint.  

Altogether I saw about 20 DKBA soldiers but other people said that there 
were over 100.  They wore a full suit uniform of camouflage colour.  They 
had soldiers' boots and long guns like the G3 and G4 which the SLORC 
uses.  Others had black uniforms which the Burmese wear.  They were 
shooting up and down, in the air, not at the people.  Nobody died.  Some of 
them spoke Karen but most spoke Burmese.  

At the time when the camp was already on fire, a 20 year old man came to 
help us carry things out of our house and helped to save a patient in another

house.  Before he reached the house, he met a SLORC soldier who asked 
him:  "Where are you going?"  The man answered in Karen: "I am going to 
help a patient there", and the SLORC soldier replied: "I am not Karen.  
Don't talk to me in Karen.  Just take off your watch from your wrist and 
give it to me now!"  So the man gave it to him.  I am sure he was a 
Burmese soldier.  People said that the Karen DKBA soldiers had put soot 
on their faces but that the Burmese didn't.  I couldn't recognise them 
because their faces were all the same.  They all looked black in the dark 

At last the DKBA returned to their own camp, because they saw the fire 
engines coming to the camp to extinguish the flames and they thought that 
these trucks were from the Thai Army.

When I came back to Huay Kaloke camp, I just saw the houses in flames, 
the people all disorganised and the Thai fire engines not doing anything to 
the burning houses.  They just stayed still at a distance, and the Thai 
policemen were also staying still at a distance just looking around. 
I am not sure, police or soldiers.  They didn't have any guns.  They wore 
brown uniforms like the Thai police.  Maybe they were firemen.  I also saw 
some people from Mae Pa standing on the road.  The firemen extinguished 
the fire when everything was already burnt down.  The houses were 
burning continuously for about 3 hours.

I don't feel angry with DKBA.  I don't want to kill them.  We can 
understand each other because we are Karen.  I just hate the Burmese, 
SLORC.  Only a few DKBA came and they did nothing to me.  The 
Burmese soldiers tried to shoot my mother but the DKBA soldiers stopped 
them from killing her.  They also stopped them from catching me when I 
was trying to push my motorcycle.  The DKBA soldiers helped my escape 
by calling away the Burmese soldiers. [Note:  At this stage of the events she

was not actually sure which soldiers were which.]

My mother has practically nothing left, just a few things.  She has no gold. 

They already knew that we didn't have any gold.  We only had some 
money.  I remember that we invested about 50,000 Baht in this shop.  Later 
on we increased it up to 70,000 Baht, maybe more, but less than 100,000 
Baht.  That included the shop and the clothing.  All burnt down.

I don't miss anything in particular, because many times my house has been 
burnt down.  This is the fourth time that my house has been burnt down 
during my lifetime.  I only want a better life.  There is only one thing that

I regret most: my family album of photographs.

Even when my mother was expecting me, our house was burnt down in Old 
Wankha.  But in my lifetime, the first time was when I was 5 or 6 years old 
and we were living in the new Wankha camp.  At that time, my father was a 
trader.  We also had a shop then and everything burnt down.  I can 
remember my house being destroyed.  It was set on fire during the fighting 
between the KNU and the Burmese.  The second time was when we were 
living at Wankha on the Thai side and I was about 12 years old.  We had a 
shop there too and it was burnt down by the Burmese soldiers, not even 
because of fighting.  But that time we didn't lose the clothing because we 
took it all out ahead of time.  The third time was at the new market in Huay 
Kaloke last year..  It was an accident: an Indian family's carelessness with 
their stove in their kitchen [most of Huay Kaloke market burnt down in 
March 1996 because of this accident].

Now we are staying in Mae Sot for a short time.  We are renting a house.  
My mother will start a new shop when the situation is better in Huay 


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