[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
KHRG #97-05 Part 2/2 (Camp attacks) (r)
ATTACKS ON KAREN REFUGEE CAMPS
An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
March 18, 1997 / KHRG #97-05
*** PART 2 OF 2 - SEE PREVIOUS POSTING FOR PART 1 OF THIS REPORT ***
Huay Bone (Don Pa Kiang) Camp
Starting at about 10:15 p.m. on 28 January, a force estimated at over 100
soldiers attacked Huay Bone refugee camp, which has a population of
3,678 (as of Feb. 1997) and is located 20 km. north of the Thai town of
Mae Sot, on sloping open land surrounded by miles of open ricefields. The
force came on foot from the other side of the Moei River, which is the
border and is only about 1 km. west of the camp.
The attackers surrounded the camp, which is much smaller than Huay
Kaloke, at about 9:45 p.m. Then the refugees heard a single shot fired, and
the soldiers stormed the camp in two groups. One group of about 30
DKBA headed for the clinic and the houses of the medics, demanded
admittance to the clinic and searched it for the microscope. Witnesses say
they appeared to be on drugs. Even though a medic offered them medicine,
they said it was the microscope, not medicine, that they wanted. They
finally found it, then set the clinic on fire and commenced burning the
surrounding houses. A larger group headed for the market section of the
camp and began looting. Upon realising what was happening, a Thai
merchant who was spending the night in the camp ran to his truck, started it
and tried to drive out of the camp. The soldiers blocked the truck and
ordered him to stop, but he attempted to drive past them and they opened
fire on him, shooting him dead.
The troops fired into the air and set much of the camp on fire. As in Huay
Kaloke, the houses are bamboo huts with leaf rooves tightly packed
together, so the fire spread on its own and about 95 percent of the camp
was completely destroyed - only a couple of rows of houses were left
behind the market section. As Huay Bone was burning, some refugees in
the camp saw the glow in the sky coming from the burning of Huay Kaloke,
10 km. to the south, but they did not realise what it was.
Witnesses identified many of the attackers as SLORC soldiers. The DKBA
soldiers in the camp spoke in Karen, while the Burmese soldiers kept quiet,
though they were heard speaking in Burmese outside the camp. While the
houses were burning, the troops were yelling at the refugees, "Don't run or
we'll shoot you!" However, all the refugees fled the fire to the surrounding
fields, carrying their children and nothing else whatsoever. Everything was
destroyed. The attackers stayed in the camp for several hours until almost
the entire camp was gone, then left and marched back to the border.
No Thai security was present. As at Huay Kaloke, the Thai soldiers who
man the checkpoint at the camp had abandoned their post earlier in the day.
According to the refugees, they always do this when they think an attack
may be coming. For over a month after the attack, the refugees were living
in makeshift shelters in the surrounding fields, or going into the ashes of
the camp during the day but returning to the fields at night. Many families
fled to Beh Klaw (Mae La) refugee camp 40 km. to the north, which had also
been attacked but which they perceived as being relatively less dangerous.
Even more of them fled to Beh Klaw when the Thai Army announced that
in mid-March they would all be forcibly relocated to Huay Kaloke, which
everyone knows is completely unsafe. Then between 10-12 March, Thai
authorities forced overseas NGOs to hire trucks to transport the remaining
refugees to Huay Kaloke, and decreed that any refugees henceforth found
around Huay Bone would be arrested and deported. Three hundred
families were transported to Huay Kaloke, where they were allocated only
the plot of ground which used to be the Huay Kaloke football field on
which to build their houses.
NAME: "Naw G'Mwee Paw" SEX: F AGE: 49 Karen Christian medic
FAMILY: Married, 6 children but 3 already died
ADDRESS: Huay Bone (Don Pa Kiang) refugee camp, Thailand INTERVIEWED: 6/2/97
["Naw G'Mwee Paw", a medic at Huay Bone camp clinic, was there when
it was attacked and burned on 28 January 1997.]
On 28th January 1997, they burnt our camp. At the time I was sleeping in
a house, very close to my own house. I was not in my own house.
It was 9:45 p.m. Karen time [10:15 Thai time]. At first, we heard one
gunshot, just one gunshot, and the people who were staying together with
me in that house all ran away. But I came back to my own house to get my
daughter, because my husband was staying there with my son and my
daughter and he couldn't carry them both [her son is disabled and her
daughter is 2 1/2 years old]. Within a few seconds, we heard a very strong
voice near our house which said "Catch them! Shoot them! Don't let them
get out of the camp!" We saw a lot of men with guns running out of the
bushes to Section 2, toward our house and directly toward the clinic. They
entered the clinic looking for whatever they need. At first they didn't come
for me. But when they didn't find the things they needed, they came to my
house, surrounded my house and then ordered the others to guard my
house while some of them came into the house and pointed their guns at me.
Ten of them came into my house. They all had guns. They didn't shoot at
me but they touched me with their guns and said, "Don't run or we will
shoot you!" They pointed their guns at me and asked me for the key of the
clinic. I gave it to them. One of their leaders ordered them: "Look through
this house and open all the things in it. After that he said, "Don't do
anything. Don't touch this Auntie! Don't hurt her!" So the soldiers who
were standing beside me stepped away from me. I took the key and my little
daughter. I carried her with me to the hospital, and the soldiers were
following me, and I looked for the microscope in the clinic [the DKBA are
usually on orders to get microscopes when they raid refugee camps].
When I opened the cupboard, I didn't find the microscope. But these men
who came to get the microscope, they didn't even know what a microscope
is. He looked everywhere but couldn't find it. I gave him medicine to take
back [to Burma] and use. At first they put the medicine in their bags, but
afterwards he told me: "Auntie, I don't need these. In our place, we have a
lot of medicine." He gave it back and I closed the cupboard and came back
to my house. When they came out of the clinic, they talked to one of the
leaders on the walkie-talkie - they said, "We haven't found the microscope.
What do we do now?" One of the leaders told them on the walkie-talkie,
"How is it that you can't find it? Today they were using it to do malaria
tests". They were speaking very loudly so I could hear very clearly. They
were speaking in Karen language over the walkie-talkie, not Burmese. The
leader said to them over the walkie-talkie, "Threaten that woman and you
will find it." The second time, they climbed into the clinic by themselves
and didn't call me. They found it in the breastfeeding room. They took the
microscope. We were staying under our house and we could listen to their
voices. They were speaking very loudly. When they brought the
microscope out of the clinic, the man with the walkie-talkie ordered: "Burn
it down. Burn it down!"
I was under my house, I looked at the clinic and I saw the fire start to
Then my house and the camp office [next door] started to burn. They
were about 30 soldiers there, and at other places maybe a lot more, but I
just saw the ones who were near my house and the clinic. They were
dressed in uniforms and all of them had guns, but I don't know which kind.
One of the guns was very short and a lot of them had long ones. I could
not see very well at nighttime. We could not shine our torchlights, and they
were shining their torchlights on us. Only some of them were DKBA.
SLORC soldiers were also amongst them. As far as I know, the soldiers
who came and talked to me were DKBA, but outside the clinic many of the
soldiers were staying silently and they didn't speak. One woman told me
that when they were outside the camp she heard them speaking Burmese to
each other, but inside the camp they didn't speak at all.
Q: What about their faces?
A: I saw the face of the one who asked me for the keys but I didn't know
him. But their eyes were very strange. Their eyes were red and they
looked at us sternly, like they were crazy. I am sure they had taken some
medicine. When they addressed me at first they were very aggressive, but
afterward they became softer.
First, they surrounded the camp, then after the gunshot, some of them ran
to the clinic and my house but another group went to the market. They
shot one Thai [a merchant who sold things in the camp]. I didn't see that.
Early the next morning I came back to the market and I saw a lot of blood
on the ground, and the people told me, "Oh! Min Yen's husband was shot
last night!" When he heard that the DKBA were close to us, he jumped
into his car and tried to drive out of the camp. Then he saw one DKBA
soldier in front of him who ordered him to stop the car, but he tried to
through and they shot him dead. He was hit in his leg and his bladder,
inside the car. I don't know his name. He was Thai. His wife is also Thai.
They do business here. They have a shop in the market. He was staying
alone in the camp that night [without his wife].
At the time they ordered us not to run away: "If you run away, we will
shoot you!" So my husband told them, "You are burning our house and
yet you don't let us run away." But we tried to escape and we ran to the
field outside of the camp. We didn't run too far and we could see the
whole camp burning. They stayed around for about 4 hours. When the
fire was nearly finished, we could hear them shouting: "All burnt. Now we
must go back." We could see them with their guns, we could even count
them! We stayed very quietly just outside the camp. We couldn't go far
because we had no shoes. So we tried to hide in the bushes, and we spent
the whole night there in the fields outside of the camp. We couldn't save
any of our belongings. We only had the clothes we were wearing. That
night, I didn't wear a sweater, only a shirt and my sarong, so it was so
I had left my jacket in my house. I had 764 Baht in it to give to someone in
the camp. That day I couldn't find the person, so I had kept the money in
my jacket to give to them the next day. I was keeping the money very
carefully, but at that time I didn't remember about my jacket and it was
burnt. I lost an electric keyboard [a portable battery-operated piano
keyboard, which are used by many Karen churches] and my cupboard with
all our clothes inside. Also my medical dictionary, I lost it all.
At that time, we didn't know that they were also burning down Huay
Kaloke camp. We could see the light of the fire in the sky but we didn't
know where it was from [Huay Kaloke is just 10 km. further south]. It
was nearly at the same time that they set our camp on fire.
There was no Thai security in our camp and nobody was staying at the
checkpoint. Usually they stayed in the day time, sometimes at night too.
But if they hear that the news is not so good [i.e. that there may be an
attack], they go away. It happened at night time, so they was no security
for us. But the next morning, a lot of Thai soldiers came, checked the
situation and asked many questions.
Afterwards we came back to the camp, but we had no more house and
nothing to cook. A lot of people were without any pots, without anything.
So the monk who was staying here announced to the people: "If you have
nothing, you can come to the monastery. Especially for the babies, we will
give rice for you." [The monastery was not burnt down.] The adults had
to wait. A lot of people came and ate there. Some rice was left in the
monastery. Some families who had rice came and gave it to the monks, and
the monks gave food to the villagers.
I didn't hear of them looting anything in the market. Personally, I believe
that their leaders only ordered them to do two things, to get the microscope
and to burn down the camp. At the time I felt angry but also very sad. The
people here felt so sad. A lot of them were crying because they had nothing
left, not even clothes. Since then and even until now we have been sleeping
outside of the camp. Only a few families have some blankets. The small
children under 5 years old especially have been catching colds. We've also
had a few cases of malaria and diarrhoea.
For the future, we can do nothing. I don't know. We are waiting to know
what we should do, where we should go. A lot of people are waiting to
hear what the leaders will say and they will follow. If they have to go back
to Burma side, they refuse to go. But if we build our houses here again,
they will surely come and burn them again.
[The following is from a previous interview with "Naw G'Mwee Paw"
conducted on 10 September 1996, after an attack on the camp in August
I was in the camp when DKBA attacked us. It was on 23/8/1996. As I was
afraid, I was not in my house but in another one in the camp [there were
already rumours in the camp of a possible attack because DKBA soldiers
had been seen gathering just across the border]. They didn't send any
First they entered Ka Na Su [an outlying section of the refugee camp].
The camp leader told me that it happened at about midnight. I didn't hear
the shooting because it is about 3 kilometres away. They killed Major Tun
Kyi there. The villagers said that about 10 of them [DKBA] crossed the
river and came directly to Major Tun Kyi's house. His house is a bit distant
from the other houses. They surrounded his house. His wife ran out of the
house. Major Tun Kyi also tried to run out of the house but he only got
down the steps when somebody shouted to him and shot him. They didn't
ask anything. Major Tun Kyi asked, "Who is coming?". He got no answer
and he was shot. He was hit by many bullets in his chest. He was in the
KNU before. He was 70 years old and had retired. He had 4 children.
That night, only Major Tun Kyi and his wife were staying in the house.
Their children were not staying together with them because they attend
school, one of his daughters is a school teacher in this camp [the main
section - there is no school in Ka Na Su] and the eldest one is married. His
wife thinks that if she hadn't manage to run out of the house, she would
have been shot too. We think that maybe the SLORC told DKBA to go
and find someone like a leader, a KNU leader or a camp leader, arrest him
and kill him. We all know that they are controlled by the SLORC.
After they killed him they entered his house and took all the clothes and all
his money too, 70,000 Baht. Nothing was left in his house. I think that
they came to catch him, but after they caught him they also wanted to get
his money. In Ka Na Su they also went to Pu Kyi's house. They stayed
there for a few minutes and pointed their guns at his family. They didn't
ask or steal anything. They only frightened them. I just heard now that
they also took the clothes in another house.
The same group came here. They entered the camp [main section] at
nearly 2 a.m. They didn't take the path - they crossed the cornfield and
came to the well in Section 7. One of the men saw them with their guns
but he thought it was our own camp security. Only later he realised they
were DKBA. They all had guns. My son also saw them, but it was
nighttime and he doesn't know whether they were wearing uniforms or not.
My son was not staying in our house. He was near the top of the road and
he saw them passing by. Maybe they came in separate groups, because
dogs were barking at various places - but then they must have joined
together in the camp.
That night I was sleeping and I didn't notice anything. Only in the morning,
my husband told me. When I went back to our house in the morning, my
husband was complaining: "Last night I didn't sleep. I want to sleep now."
So, I asked him, "What happened to you? Why didn't you sleep?" And he
told me "DKBA came around our house, but they didn't ask or take
anything in our house." He saw them. He knew it was DKBA because
they had guns. In our camp nobody carries a gun, and we can recognise the
Thai soldiers by their uniforms. Those that my husband saw didn't wear
uniforms. He saw one man standing at the steps of the camp secretary's
house [next door], two here and one or two there. The dogs were barking
at them. They lighted their torches, and the dogs were barking a lot. We
have 5 dogs, so if someone comes, there is so much noise. Afterwards they
went to the hospital. Only one of the nurses and one patient were staying in
the IPD [in-patient's department]. They went in and shone their torches
but didn't ask anything and didn't take anything.
They went and surrounded Aung Gyi's house [Aung Gyi had recently
married an American teacher who had just left the camp the previous
day]. They were standing there with an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade
launcher], the neighbours saw them. Three men entered his house and
looked inside the bedrooms, but they didn't find anyone. Only the
headmistress was staying in the house. They said, "Where is the foreigner?
We want to see the foreign woman and Padoh Captain [Aung Gyi's father,
who is with the KNU]". But she didn't answer and pretended she was
asleep. She felt so afraid. Three times the same night they surrounded his
house, but only the last time they came and searched inside. But they didn't
find them so they left. The only house they entered in this camp was Aung
Gyi's house. They knew very well. They want a foreigner because they
think that foreigners have a lot of money. And Saw Captain belongs to the
Timber Department of the KNU and they want leaders like him.
They went to some shops and ordered, "Open the door. If you don't open
it, we will do it ourselves." They took some bread and tins of sardines, and
other things that they can eat. One shop was left nearly empty. They
carried everything away themselves. They also arrested two people and
asked them for money, 1,200 Baht. They couldn't give it, but the DKBA
didn't do anything and left them. No one was taken away. They stayed in
the camp for about 2 hours, then they left at 4 a.m.
We think they came here for some people, leaders that they wanted, but
they didn't do anything because they didn't find them. Even the section
leaders were in hiding [the refugee camp section leaders]. They didn't ask
the refugees anything.
Everyone was afraid but they couldn't do anything. Most people here didn't
even know what happened. Sections 1, 3, 4 and 5 knew but the other side
of the camp didn't notice anything. They didn't shoot here. Only the next
morning the other people heard the news and got frightened too.
On the 24th nothing happened, but on the night of the 25th they fired heavy
weapons nearby again, across from the fields, on the Karen side [just
across the border]. One or two fell on the Thai side near the river but
didn't explode. I heard 5 shells. People woke up and ran away from the
camp, some along the road and some to the corn fields. They didn't come
back to the camp that night and stayed outside the camp under the trees. It
was raining. Some people had a plastic sheet but some didn't. Some went
to stay in the Thai [farmers'] field huts. My husband also went to stay in a
Thai hut. That night I stayed here but the next day I went to stay in Mae
Sot with my children.
Now we are afraid. When they came we knew some of them [DKBA
soldiers] and nothing happened. Maybe that was good for us. But
yesterday we heard that some villagers outside the camp saw them again,
and this time they didn't recognise any of them - so maybe the SLORC
changed them because when they came they didn't do anything in the main
camp. SLORC wants them to kill someone or burn the camp. Before they
sometimes used to visit some villagers who know them, but without guns.
This is the first time that they came with guns. Each of them had a gun.
The villagers are so afraid. The camp leader will have a meeting with KRC
[the Karen Refugee Committee] and the NGO's [the foreign Non-
Governmental Organisations who supply the refugee camps] to see if we
should move. It will not be easy to move so many families.
[After the attack on the camp on 24 August and the shelling of the area on
26 August, the refugees were living in extreme fear and no one was
sleeping in the camp at night. They had moved their valuables out into the
farm fields and went out there to sleep every night. By 10 September, most
of them had returned to stay in the camp.]
Beh Klaw (Mae La) Camp
Beh Klaw refugee camp has a population of 25,596 (as of Feb. 1997) and
is located 62 km. north of the Thai town of Mae Sot, sprawling over several
kilometres of undulating land surrounded by forested hills, with the north-
south Mae Sariang-Mae Sot highway passing along its eastern side. Many
of the refugees here came after other camps such as Baw Noh were
attacked and destroyed in 1995. At about 6:30 a.m. on 29 January, a force
of at least 30-40 soldiers attacked the camp from the northwestern corner
near the camp's Bible School. They were backed up by a larger force
which remained outside the camp, between the camp and the border. The
force came on foot from the other side of the border a few kilometres away
and was supported by SLORC shelling from the Burma side of the border.
At least 35 shells were fired into the camp, and the attackers themselves
used assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and M79 grenade launchers.
15 to 20 rocket-propelled grenades were fired, and one of them killed an
elderly woman trying to flee the attack: Naw Eh G'Lu Pi (a.k.a. Maw Yweh
Mo, widow, aged 80). The same shell wounded 2 children who were with her.
Another shell landed near the camp hospital, and one man who was
running from the hospital collapsed and died. Two shells landed
at the monastery, and others landed in Section 1 of the camp and at
the Thai Forestry Department office beside the main highway.
As the attackers moved into the camp, firing into houses and then setting
them on fire, they encountered camp security forces who fought back and
were later joined by Thai troops. The attackers, most of whom were
reportedly DKBA, were pinned down and then driven back, eventually
being forced to retreat to the border leaving behind 2 or 3 dead and taking
along with them an unknown number of wounded. They managed to burn
down 15 houses in the course of the attack, some at the beginning and the
rest as they retreated. The attack continued for about 90 minutes, from
6:30 a.m. until 8 a.m. Over the next several days, some of them remained
in Thailand between the camp and the border until the security forces
gradually harassed them back into Burma.
The refugees fled the camp, and for a long time no one dared sleep in the
camp at night and many people lived in hiding in the surrounding hills and
forests. The people of Beh Klaw considered themselves fortunate to have
escaped the total destruction which Huay Kaloke and Huay Bone suffered,
and after they got news of the destruction of these other camps they even
took up collections of clothing and other supplies among themselves and
sent them down to their fellow refugees who had lost everything. However,
no one in Beh Klaw feels secure and most people feel it is essential to be
moved to a safer location.
NAME: "Saw Hai Kaw" SEX: M AGE: 18 Karen Christian student
ADDRESS: Beh Klaw (Mae La) refugee camp, Thailand INTERVIEWED: 3/2/97
["Saw Hai Kaw" was in Beh Klaw refugee camp when it was attacked by a
combined SLORC/DKBA force on 29 January 1997.]
The attack started at about 6:30 a.m. on 29th January. At that time I was
staying in the Bible school dormitory. I was coming down from the
dormitory to work early. The Bible School is in Section C1 and the DKBA
came in from the hilltop of Section C1. They came from different parts in
that section. Just when I just started working in the school compound, I
heard a carbine gunshot. Then I heard heavy shelling. Some shells
exploded but others didn't. They shelled heavy weapons to block off the
gate. During the fighting, we Bible School students went to hide in a cave
nearby. While I was running towards the back of the hill, one RPG
[rocket-propelled grenade] shell dropped nearby, so I ran into the teak
plantation. That shell fell in the bamboo and killed an old woman who was
hiding there with some children. I don't know her name but we used to
watch television together every night. She must be 80 years old. She died
instantly. Two 4- or 5-year-old children were injured.
The DKBA came in at the time when the [security] soldiers were rotating
their duty, so only 3 soldiers were left. That is why the DKBA was able to
reach the foot of the hill of section C1. Some DKBA did not even have
any weapons - they came into the camp just to set the houses on fire. Only
a few of them had guns, like AR, AK47, RPG-7, and M79 mortars [the AR
is a cut-down version of the M16 automatic assault rifle; AK47 is an
automatic assault rifle; RPG-7 is a shoulder-launched rocket-propelled
grenade; and M79 is a rifle-sized grenade launcher]. I saw some of them
coming in and blowing a whistle. The whistle means "Start fighting!" Then
others came in. So they started fighting in Section C1 because there was
not enough security in that area to fight against them. The security
didn't have enough guns. One of the villagers told me that at that time
DKBA went shouting into the houses, "Is there anyone in this house?"
Then they shot their guns into the houses and set them on fire. Afterwards
I saw 6 burnt houses but other people said there were 15.
While I was hiding in the teak plantation, reinforcements of Beh Klaw
security soldiers arrived. One of them who came from the other side of the
camp was injured on his hand. He didn't feel his injury because he was
concentrating on his duty. He only noticed it when he saw the blood
seeping out of his wound. Another Bible school student and I cleaned his
wound and dressed it.
When the reinforcements came I felt encouraged and went to look around
near the fighting. I followed the soldiers but not too close to them. When
the shells fell, I hid under the teak trees. The DKBA retreated up to the
hilltop, from where they were still fighting. During that time, some DKBA
were killed. People said to me that three of them died but I only saw one
dead DKBA, under the banana trees. When this man fell down another
DKBA came down to save him, but he got injured so he left his friend
under the banana trees. Beside the dead body we found a gun, a backpack
and a cassette player [stolen from one of the houses] which had been
damaged by the gunshots. We opened his bag and we saw materials for
mines and bombs and wires to hook them up to explode. I felt very sad for
our Karen people. He also had an amulet to protect his life. These are the
tricks of the Myaing Gyi Ngu monk [U Thuzana, chairman of DKBA].
Are the monks not holy? I don't understand.
About 30 soldiers came but I only saw the one who died. They wore
uniforms, the same as the SLORC, but "Thawka Thu Po" was written on
their badges. It means "the monk's soldiers". I think they came to loot
things from the refugees.
They shelled about 35 artillery shells. Some exploded near people's houses.
During the fighting the refugees ran out of the camp. Some of them ran to
the foot of the hills. For 2 or 3 days afterwards there was no one in the
camp. I didn't even see my family.
Sho Kloh Camp
Sho Kloh refugee camp has a population of 6,836 (as of Feb. 1997) and is
located 110 km. north of the Thai town of Mae Sot, along the sides of an
east-west river valley with the north-south Mae Sariang-Mae Sot highway
passing just west of it. The Moei River, which is the border, lies just 1
west of the camp. At about 4:30 p.m. on 4 January, the refugee camp was
shelled with mortars fired from Baw Pa Hta, a former KNU trading
gateway now occupied by SLORC and DKBA just across the Moei River.
Five or six 2 1/2" mortar shells were fired into the middle of the camp, 4 of
which exploded. The leader of Section 3 of the camp (Saw Pay, age 33)
was wounded in the neck and the body by shrapnel and died on 12
February in Mae Sot hospital of his wounds. At least two other refugees
were wounded. The shells exploded in the market, at the monastery, at the
church and in front of Saw Pay's house. The shelling lasted for 5 or 10
minutes, during which most refugees ran to foxholes or bunkers they dug
by their houses after the previous shelling of the camp in June 1996.
As in the other camps, following this attack the refugees feel there is no
security in Sho Kloh and they are living in fear, but they do not want to go
back to Burma.
NAME: "Naw Lah Paw" SEX: F AGE: 30 Karen Buddhist
FAMILY: Married, 2 children aged 2 and 5
ADDRESS: Sho Kloh refugee camp, Thailand INTERVIEWED: 5/3/97
["Naw Lah Paw" is the wife of the leader of Section 3 of Sho Kloh camp,
who was hit in the shelling and died.]
I have been living in Sho Kloh for about 11 years. On 4th January, I was
selling lottery tickets in the market. Then when I heard an explosion I was
staying in my house. I started running towards the bunker [after Sho Kloh
was shelled in June 1996, most families dug a small bunker near their
house] and I looked for my children. It was about 4 p.m. Burmese time
[4:30 Thai time]. I heard 3 or 4 shells and the last one landed right here
[about 5 meters in front of her house]. I stayed in the bunker while the
shells landed. I thought "What is happening?" because there was a lot of
dust in the air, and I looked at my husband. I saw him falling down there
[pointing at the footpath outside her house]. When the mortar landed, he
was in front of the house shouting at the children to stay still and hide in
the bunker. I called to him loudly that the children and I were already in
the bunker. Just as I spoke the mortar landed there, as he was coming
us. It was too late for him to get into the bunker. His name was Saw Pay.
He was 33 years old, Sgaw Karen and Buddhist like me. He was the
section 3 leader.
I saw him lying down just like that. I thought that he was dead because he
was so quiet and stayed still. I didn't see his injuries, but people saw him
wounded and took him to the hospital about 30 minutes after the shelling.
The other people didn't want me to go, so I went back to the bunker again.
My parents heard that he was wounded, so my father came up to me about
15 or 20 minutes later and I came out of the bunker again. But the others
forced me back into the bunker because they were worried for me. At that
time I also had my youngest child in my arms because I couldn't leave him
lying in the bunker alone and there was no one to look after him. When it
was already dark, I followed my mother walking and running to the hospital
because I wanted to see my husband. People didn't let me see him because
they were worried that I would be upset. When I saw him, his wounds
were covered. He was injured by 4 pieces of shrapnel - in his neck, in his
side, in his stomach and in his right leg. The people sent him to Mae Sot by
car along with his brother. I couldn't go to Mae Sot with the child and went
to stay in my mother's house in Section 2. The next day, I tried to go down
to Mae Sot but I could only get to Beh Klaw [half way]. I went to see him
about a week later. At that time he looked better. He had an oxygen pipe
going into his throat and he couldn't speak. Two weeks later, he had
become thin and couldn't eat well but he could speak a little. On the 12th
of February he died. My brother-in-law told me. They burnt his body in
the hospital. I didn't even know when he was buried.
One uncle [older man] also got injured while he was staying in the bunker.
I was in his bunker and he was trying to get into my bunker. I was too
afraid to stay in my bunker, so I had gone to his. He got injured on his
thigh and it broke his bone. His house is just here and his children are
staying with his son. His wife is already dead. The people carried him in a
hammock to the [camp] hospital. I saw him there with bamboo slats on
both sides of his leg, tied up with a bandage from the hip to the ankle.
They sent him to Mae Sot together with my husband. He is still in Mae Sot
Altogether the shelling lasted for about 5 or 10 minutes. I think it is DKBA
who fired the shells. They were coming from Baw Pa Hta area. I think
they have bad feelings toward us, but we have done nothing to make them
feel this way. I don't know why. The Thai soldiers in Sho Kloh did
nothing. I didn't hear them firing back. They just stayed like that. About
5 or 10 minutes later, Thai soldiers from Mae Plu fired 3 or 4 shells back.
I dare not think about the future. I feel scared and sad. We have to stay
alert. I don't want to go back to Burma. Only if there is peace would I
like to go back. If the situation goes on like this, I don't want to go
If everybody moves to Beh Klaw I will go too, because it is not safe to stay
separate from the other people. I will follow the others, though I believe
that Beh Klaw is not safer than Sho Kloh. For now, I am staying in Section
2 with my parents.
NAME: "Saw Win Hlaing" SEX: M AGE: 25 Karen Muslim shopkeeper
FAMILY: Single, 6 brothers and sisters
ADDRESS: Sho Kloh refugee camp, Thailand INTERVIEWED: 6/3/97
["Saw Win Hlaing" was one of the 3 people wounded by the shelling.]
I have been living in Sho Kloh for the last 10 years. I live in the market
of Section 4. It was about 5 p.m. when the DKBA shelled into Sho Kloh. As
soon as we heard the shelling, we closed the shop. As I was closing the
door a shell exploded about 7 or 8 yards away, in front of my shop and the
video house. Actually the mortar came through the roof of the video house
and exploded in the middle [no one was in there]. It damaged the walls of
the video house, my house and my things in the shop. A piece of shrapnel
hit me. I was the only one hurt by that mortar shell. I was wounded in the
back of my shoulder [the top corner of his left shoulder]. My family was
already in the bunker and I went to the back of the house to my family. I
waited for about half an hour until the shelling was over. My whole shirt
got soaked with blood. Then my younger brother carried me to the
hospital. He is bigger and stronger than me. I arrived there first, before
the other two wounded people. There were one or two medics but no patients,
all of them had fled to the bunkers near the hospital. The medic washed the
wound and applied first aid to it. Two other people were also wounded:
Saw Pay, the section 3 leader, and one old man but I don't know his name.
We had to wait for a couple of hours. We didn't dare go without any
security guard. At about 7 p.m., a Thai Army car took us to Mae Sot
hospital. There were 3 patients and two medics. In Mae Sot, the doctors
took out the shrapnel and dressed my wounds that night and I came back
here the next day. I only stayed one night at Mae Sot hospital. Now my
shoulder is sometimes numb. If I work for more than 10 minutes it gives
me cramps. It is still painful when I sleep on my left side.
Five shells landed in Sho Kloh [4 exploded and at least one or two did
not]. They shelled from Baw Pa Hta. I didn't see them but I heard them,
especially the one that hit me. One shell landed in front of my house, one
at the monastery, one at the church and another one in front of the section
3 leader's house. That last one hit and wounded him. One leader dug up the
tail of the shell and told me that it was a 2 1/2" mortar. I feel very angry
and resentful about this, but since we are refugees we can't do anything.
I believe this could happen again, and we will just run if we can escape.
I don't want to move to Beh Klaw because of the difficulties for my family.
Altogether we are 10 people in my family, 6 brothers and sisters, my
parents, my sister-in-law and myself. Now we have no money to move there.
If our leaders ask us to move we will move, and if they ask us to stay
we will stay. That's all. Staying in Sho Kloh is better than staying in
Burma, because there is a lot of fighting in Burma now. I used to live in
Moe Nai village in Hlaing Bwe township. Sho Kloh is safer than my
village. I want the organisations of the whole world to help the Karen
refugees. There is no hope for improvement through the peace talks
between SLORC and the ethnic groups. It can only be possible with the
interference of the whole world and if SLORC transfers state power to
Aung San Suu Kyi. I think the situation in Burma might be better if Aung
San Suu Kyi comes to power.
Q: How do you think other countries can help?
A: By stopping trade with Burma.
- [END OF REPORT] -
| SalaThai, Bangkok, Thailand - A FirstClass Network - Tel: (662) 679-8382 |
| BBS: (662) 679-8380 (18 lines) http://www.icn.net/SalaThai.html |
| Please address any problems and questions to postmaster@xxxxxxxxxxxx |