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Food Security and militarisation in Burma

Individual Documents

Title: Toungoo Situation Update: Tantabin Township, January to March 2012
Date of publication: 20 May 2012
Description/subject: "This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in March 2012 by a community member describing events occurring in Tantabin Township, Toungoo District. It provides information on rations resupply operations by Tatmadaw MOC #9 along the vehicle road from Kler La army camp to Bu Hsa Hkee army camp from January to March 2012, in which soldiers from MOC #9 and LID #66 burnt the vehicle road and the roadside in order to clear vegetation for security purposes, resulting in the destruction of villagers' cardamom and betelnut plantations. The community member also described attacks on villagers' livelihoods and food supply, with the burning of 177 acres of villagers' cardamom plantations by LID #66 alone at the end of March 2012. Recent evidence of abuse by IB #35, under the control of LID #66, in forced relocation sites, such as using villagers for forced labour to clear weeds around military camps, is also provided. In one instance, Y--- villagers responded to the burning of the vehicle road by clearing away dry leaves in order to prevent the fire from spreading to their adjacent plantations, however, MOC #9 soldiers proceeded to burn the villagers' plantations nonetheless."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (185K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2012/khrg12b43.html
Date of entry/update: 13 June 2012

Title: Nyaunglebin Interview: Naw P---, October 2011
Date of publication: 18 May 2012
Description/subject: "This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted during October 2011 in Nyaunglebin District by a community member trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. The community member interviewed Naw P---, a 42-year-old flat field farmer, who described her experiences being forcibly relocated by Tatmadaw troops, most recently in 2004 from D--- to T--- relocation village. Villagers continue to face movement restrictions, specifically a curfew which prevents villagers from leaving T--- after 6:00 pm, as well as demands from people's militia and Tatmadaw troops for food on a bi-monthly basis following troop rotations, and monthly demands for a big tin (16 kg. / 35.2 lb.) of rice. Payments are also reported in lieu of sentry duties for the Tatmadaw. An incident involving the disappearance and suspected killing of a previous village head in the past was also mentioned. Relocation is reported to have severely undermined villagers’ food security; food scarcity in the relocation village has been exacerbated by the area being more highly populated, with less agricultural land available for villagers to cultivate or on which to graze cattle, and as a consequence they are forced to purchase the bulk of their food in order to survive."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (249K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2012/khrg12b42.pdf
Date of entry/update: 13 June 2012

Title: Ongoing forced labour and movement restrictions in Toungoo District
Date of publication: 12 March 2012
Description/subject: "In Toungoo District between November 2011 and February 2012 villagers in both Than Daung and Tantabin Townships have faced regular and ongoing demands for forced labour, as well movement and trade restrictions, which consistently undermine their ability to support themselves. During the last few months, the Tatmadaw has demanded villagers to support road-building activities by providing trucks and motorcycles to send food and materials, to drive in front of bulldozers in potentially-landmined areas, to clean brush, dig and flatten land during road-building, and to transport rations during MOC #9 resupply operations as recently as February 7th 2012."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 13 March 2012

Title: Toungoo Situation Update: November 2011 to January 2012
Date of publication: 01 March 2012
Description/subject: "This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in February 2012, by a villager describing events occurring in Toungoo District during the period between November 2011 and January 2012. It discusses augmented troop rotations, resupply operations and the sending of bulldozers to construct a new vehicle road between the 20-mile point on the Toungoo – Kler La road and Kler La. It also contains reports of forced labour, specifically the use of villagers to porter military equipment and supplies, to serve as set tha, and the clearing of vegetation by vehicle roads. Movement restrictions were also highlighted as a major concern for villagers living both within and outside state control, as the imposition of permission documents and taxes limits the transportation of cash crops, and impacts the availability of basic commodities. The villager who wrote this report raised villagers' concerns about rising food prices, the lack of medicine due to government restrictions on its transportation from towns to mountainous areas, and the difficulty in obtaining an education in rural villages beyond grades three and four. The villager who wrote this report flagged the ongoing use of landmines by armed groups and noted that this poses serious physical security risks, particularly where villagers are not notified of landmine-contaminated areas, but also noted that some villagers view the use of landmines by non-state armed groups in positive terms as a deterrent of Tatmadaw activity."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (122K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2012/khrg12b22.pdf
Date of entry/update: 13 March 2012

Title: Papun Interview: Saw H---, March 2011
Date of publication: 08 February 2012
Description/subject: "This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted during March 2011 in Bu Tho Township, Papun District, by a villager trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. The villager interviewed Saw H---, a 34-year-old hillfield farmer and the head of N--- village. Saw H--- described an incident in which a 23-year-old villager stepped on and was killed by a landmine at the beginning of 2011, at the time when he, Saw H--- and three other villagers were returning to N--- after serving as unpaid porters for Border Guard soldiers based at Meh Bpa. Saw H--- also detailed demands for the collection and provision of bamboo poles for construction of soldiers’ houses at Gk’Ter Tee, as well as the payment of 400,000 kyat ((US $ 519.48) in lieu of the provision of porters to Maung Chit, Commander of Border Guard Battalion #1013, by villages in Meh Mweh village tract. These payments were described in the previous KHRG report "Papun Situation Update: Bu Tho Township, April 2011." Saw H--- also described demands for the provision of a pig to Border Guard soldiers three days before this interview took place and the beating of a villager by DKBA soldiers in 2010. He noted the ways in which movement restrictions that prevent villagers from travelling on rivers and sleeping in or bringing food to their farm huts negatively impact harvests and food security. Saw H--- explained that villagers respond to such concerns by sharing food amongst themselves, refusing to comply with forced labour demands, and cultivating relationships with non-state armed groups to learn the areas in which landmines have been planted."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (297K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2012/khrg12b14.pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 February 2012

Title: Papun Interview: Saw T---, August 2011
Date of publication: 27 January 2012
Description/subject: "This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted during August 2011 by a villager trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. The villager interviewed Saw T---, a 74 year-old Buddhist village head who described the planting of what he estimated to be about 100 landmines by government and non-state armed groups in the vicinity of his village. Saw T--- related ongoing instances of forced labour, specifically villagers forced to guide troops, porter military supplies and sweep for landmines, and described an incident in which two villagers stepped on landmines whilst being forced to serve as unpaid porters for Tatmadaw troops. He described a separate incident in which another villager stepped on and was killed by a landmine whilst fleeing from Border Guard soldiers who were attempting to force him to porter for one month. In both cases, victims' families received no compensation or opportunity for redress following their deaths. Saw T--- noted that landmines planted in agricultural areas have not been removed, rendering several hill fields unsafe to farm and resulting in the abandonment of crops. He illustrated the danger to villagers who travel to their agricultural workplaces by recounting an incident in which a villager's buffalo was injured by a landmine. He further explained that villagers' livelihoods have been additionally undermined by frequent demands for food and by looting of villagers' food and animals. Saw T--- highlighted the fact that demands are backed by explicit threats of violence, recounting an instance when he was threatened for failing to comply quicky by a Tatmadaw officer who held a gun to his head. Saw T--- noted that villagers have responded to negative impacts on their food production capacity by performing job for daily wages and sharing food with others and, in response to the lack of health facilities in their community, travel over two hours by foot to the nearest clinic in another village."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (299K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2012/khrg12b9.pdf
Date of entry/update: 29 January 2012

Title: Thaton Interview: Daw Ny---, April 2011
Date of publication: 27 January 2012
Description/subject: "This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted during April 2011 in Pa’an Township, Thaton District by a villager trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. The villager interviewed Daw Ny---, who described an incident which occurred in November 2010, during which Tatmadaw Border Guard soldiers fired small-arms at her husband without warning and without attempting to hail him, seriously injuring his leg and necessitating 3,800,000 kyat [US $4,935.06] in medical expenses, which has had a deleterious effect on her family’s financial situation. Daw Ny--- told the villager who conducted this interview that her husband was visited in hospital by government officials investigating the incident but that no compensation or redress was offered. Daw Ny--- also described arbitrary demands for food and money, and the illegal logging of teak trees from A--- village by Border Guard soldiers; she mentioned that the imbalance in local power dynamics between armed soldiers and unarmed villagers deters villagers from attempting to engage and negotiate with perpetrators. Daw Ny--- raised concerns about the lack of livelihoods opportunities, and corresponding food insecurity, for villagers who do not own farmland; she notes that, in spite of these challenges, villagers offer voluntary material support to schoolteachers and often attempt to support their livelihoods by selling firewood or cutting bamboo. Daw Ny--- notes that some villagers choose to seek employment opportunities in larger towns but strongly expresses her unwillingness to move to an urban area, believing that food insecurity would only be exacerbated by a lack of money and an absence of alternative livelihood opportunities."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (267K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2012/khrg12b8.html
Date of entry/update: 29 January 2012

Title: Thaton Situation Update: Thaton Township, August 2011
Date of publication: 20 January 2012
Description/subject: "This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in August 2011 by a villager describing ongoing abuses occurring in Thaton Township in 2011, including frequent demands for forced labour from six villages, for villagers to serve as guards at a Tatmadaw LIB #218 camp, and for payments in lieu of forced labour. It outlines some difficulties faced by civilians in pursuit of their livelihoods, including the negative impact of forced labour demands, the lack of employment options available for villagers attempting to support their families and the destruction of paddy crops caused by flooding during the 2011 monsoon. It details restrictions on access to healthcare, specifically the high cost of medical treatment at government clinics and the denial of access for healthcare groups, and also expresses villagers’ frustrations at obstacles to children’s education caused by the need for children to work to support their families and the prohibitive costs of school attendance and supplies."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (245K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2012/khrg12b7.pdf
Date of entry/update: 23 January 2012

Title: Papun Situation Update: Lu Thaw Township, November 2011
Date of publication: 17 January 2012
Description/subject: "This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in November 2011 by a villager living in a hiding site in northern Lu Thaw Township, Papun District. The villager described an incident that occurred in October 2011 in which Tatmadaw soldiers fired six mortar shells into an area in which civilians are actively seeking to avoid attacks by Tatmadaw troops; no one was killed or injured during the attack. This situation update places the occurrence of such incidents in the context of the repeated and prolonged displacement of villagers in northern Luthaw who continue to actively seek to avoid contact with government troops due to ongoing attacks against civilian objects. The villager who wrote this report raised concerns about food shortages in hiding site areas where the presence of Tatmadaw soldiers proximate to previously cultivated land has resulted in overcrowding on available farmland and the subsequent degradation of soil quality, severely limiting villagers' abilities to support themselves using traditional rotational cropping methods. For detailed analysis of the humanitarian situation in this area of Luthaw Township, see the previous KHRG report Acute food shortages threatening 8,885 villagers in 118 villages across northern Papun District, published in April 2011."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (274K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg12b3.pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 January 2012

Title: Land confiscation threatens villagers' livelihoods in Dooplaya District
Date of publication: 31 October 2011
Description/subject: "In September 2011, residents of Je--- village, Kawkareik Township told KHRG that they feared soldiers under Tatmadaw Border Guard Battalion #1022 and LIBs #355 and #546 would soon complete the confiscation of approximately 500 acres of land in their community in order to develop a large camp for Battalion #1022 and homes for soldiers' families. According to the villagers, the area has already been surveyed and the Je--- village head has informed local plantation and paddy farm owners whose lands are to be confiscated. The villagers reported that approximately 167 acres of agricultural land, including seven rubber plantations, nine paddy farms, and seventeen betelnut and durian plantations belonging to 26 residents of Je--- have already been surveyed, although they expressed concern that more land would be expropriated in the future. The Je--- residents said that the village head had told them rubber plantation owners would be compensated according to the number of trees they owned, but that the villagers were collectively refusing compensation and avoiding attending a meeting at which they worried they would be ordered to sign over their land. The villagers that spoke with KHRG said they believed the Tatmadaw intended to take over their land in October after the end of the annual monsoon, and that this would seriously undermine livelihoods in a community in which many villagers depended on subsistence agriculture on established land. This bulletin is based on information collected by KHRG researchers in September and October 2011, including five interviews with residents of Je--- village, 91 photographs of the area, and a written record of lands earmarked for confiscation."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (452K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg11b41.pdf

Date of entry/update: 23 January 2012

Title: Toungoo Situation Update: May to July 2011
Date of publication: 31 October 2011
Description/subject: "This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in August 2011 by a villager describing events occurring in Toungoo District between May and July 2011. It describes a series of trade and movement restrictions imposed on villagers in June and July 2011, due to frequent clashes between Tatmadaw and non-state armed groups, and road closures between Toungoo Town and Buh Sah Kee. The report also examines in detail the serious impacts the road closures have had on the livelihoods of villagers who have been unable to support themselves by transporting and selling agricultural produce and purchasing rice supplies as usual. The report further describes incidents of human rights abuse by Tatmadaw forces, including the summary execution of two civilians in July 2011 by soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #379; forced labour including the portering of military supplies, the production and supply of building materials, guide duty and sweeping for landmines; and an attack on a village previously reported by KHRG and the subsequent destruction of villagers' homes and food stores."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (356K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs20/KHRG-2011-10-31-Toungoo_Situation_Update_May_to_July_2011-en.pdf
Date of entry/update: 29 January 2012

Title: Tenasserim Interview: Saw C---, Received in May 2011
Date of publication: 09 September 2011
Description/subject: "This report contains the full transcript of an interview conducted prior to Burma's November 2010 elections in Te Naw Th’Ri Township, Tenasserim Division by a villager trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. The villager interviewed Saw C---, a 30-year-old married hill field farmer who told KHRG that he was appointed to the position of village head by his local VPDC in an area of Te Naw Th’Ri Township that is frequently accessed by Tatmadaw troops, and in which there is no KNLA presence. Saw C--- described human rights abuses faced by residents of his village, including: demands for forced labour; theft and looting of villagers' property; and movement restrictions that prevent villagers from accessing agricultural workplaces. He also cited an incident in which a villager was shot and killed by Tatmadaw soldiers while fishing in a nearby river, and his death subsequently concealed; and recounted abuses he witnessed when forced to porter military rations and accompany Tatmadaw soldiers during foot patrols, including the theft and looting of villagers’ property and the rape of a 50-year-old woman. Saw C--- told KHRG that villagers protect themselves in the following ways: collecting flowers from the jungle to sell in local markets in order to supplement incomes, failing to comply with orders to report to a Tatmadaw camp, and using traditional herbal remedies due to difficulties accessing healthcare. He noted, however, that these strategies can be limited, for example by threats of violence against civilians by Tatmadaw soldiers or scarcity of plants commonly used in herbal remedies."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (169K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2011/khrg11b29.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 February 2012

Title: Militarization, Development and Displacement: Conditions for villagers in southern Tenasserim Division
Date of publication: 22 March 2011
Description/subject: "Villagers in Te Naw Th'Ri Township, Tenasserim Division face human rights abuses and threats to their livelihoods, attendant to increasing militarization of the area following widespread forced relocation campaigns in the late 1990s. Efforts to support and strengthen Tatmadaw presence throughout Te Naw Th'Ri have resulted in practices that facilitate control over the civilian population and extract material and labour resources while at the same time preventing non-state armed groups from operating or extracting resources of their own. Villagers who seek to evade military control and associated human rights abuses, meanwhile, report Tatmadaw attacks on civilians and civilian livelihoods in upland hiding areas. This report draws primarily on information received between September 2009 and November 2010 from Te Naw Th'Ri Township, Tenasserim Division."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (481K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2011/khrg11f3.html
Date of entry/update: 26 February 2012

Title: SPDC shelling destroys villagers' rubber plantations in Dooplaya District
Date of publication: 20 May 2010
Description/subject: "Two villagers have lost nearly 3,000 rubber trees in a fire started when SPDC soldiers from IB #548 fired mortars into their plantations as the men fled in anticipation of fighting between IB #548 and a patrol of KNLA troops on April 23rd 2010. The men will attempt to replant their plantations, but have each effectively lost four-year investments of labour and money..."
Language: English, Karen
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG #2010-B8)
Format/size: pdf (329K - English version; 501K - Karen version)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2010/khrg10b8.pdf
Date of entry/update: 10 October 2010

Title: Starving them out: Food shortages and exploitative abuse in Papun District
Date of publication: 15 October 2009
Description/subject: "As the 2009 rainy season draws to a close, displaced villagers in northern Papun District's Lu Thaw Township face little prospect of harvesting sufficient paddy to support them over the next year. After four straight agricultural cycles disrupted by Burma Army patrols, which continue to shoot villagers on sight and enforce travel and trade restrictions designed to limit sale of food to villagers in hiding, villagers in northern Papun face food shortages more severe than anything to hit the area since the Burma Army began attempts to consolidate control of the region in 1997. Consequently, the international donor community should immediately provide emergency support to aid groups that can access IDP areas in Lu Thaw Township. In southern Papun, meanwhile, villagers report ongoing abuses and increased activity by the SPDC and DKBA in Dwe Loh and Bu Thoh townships. In these areas, villagers report abuses including movement restrictions, forced labour, looting, increased placement of landmines in civilian areas, summary executions and other forms of arbitrary abuse. This report documents abuses occurring between May and October 2009..."
Language: English, Karen
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG #2009-F18)
Format/size: html, pdf (861 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg09f18.pdf
Date of entry/update: 24 October 2009

Title: Patrols, movement restrictions and forced labour in Toungoo District
Date of publication: 28 September 2009
Description/subject: "This report documents the situation for villagers in Toungoo District, both in areas under SPDC control and in areas contested by the KNLA and home to villagers actively evading SDPC control. For villagers in the former, movement restrictions, forced labour and demands for material support continue unabated, and continue to undermine their attempts to address basic needs. Villagers in hiding, meanwhile, report that the threat of Burma Army patrols, though slightly reduced, remains sufficient to disrupt farming and undermine food security. This report includes incidents occurring from January to August 2009..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Reports (KHRG #2009-F16)
Format/size: html, pdf (474K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/KHRG-2009-09-28-patrols_movements_restrictions-en-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 28 October 2009

Title: Livelihood consequences of SPDC restrictions and patrols in Nyaunglebin District
Date of publication: 22 September 2009
Description/subject: "This report presents information on abuses in Nyaunglebin District for the period of April to July 2009. Though Nyaunglebin saw a reduction in SPDC activities during the first six months of 2009, patrols resumed in July. Since then, IDP villagers attempting to evade SPDC control report that they have subsequently been unable to regularly access farm fields or gardens, exacerbating cycles of food shortages set in motion by the northern Karen State offensive which began in 2006. Other villagers, from the only nominally controlled villages in the Nyaunglebin's eastern hills to SPDC-administered relocation sites in the west, meanwhile, report abuses including forced labour, conscription into government militia, travel restrictions and the torture of two village leaders for alleged contact with the KNLA..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Reports (KHRG #2009-F15)
Format/size: html, pdf (821 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg09f15.pdf
Date of entry/update: 28 October 2009

Title: SPDC and DKBA order documents: August 2008 to June 2009
Date of publication: 27 August 2009
Description/subject: "This report includes translated copies of 75 order documents issued by Burma Army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army officers to village heads in Karen State between August 2008 and June 2009. These documents serve as supplementary evidence of ongoing exploitative local governance in rural Burma. The report thus supports the continuing testimonies of villagers regarding the regular demands for labour, money, food and other supplies to which their communities are subject by local military forces. The order documents collected here include demands for attendance at meetings; the provision of money and alcohol; the production and delivery of thatch shingles and bamboo poles; forced labour as messengers and porters for the military; forced labour on road repair; the provision of information on individuals and households; registration of villagers in State-controlled 'NGOs'; and restrictions on travel and the use of muskets. In almost all cases, such demands are uncompensated and backed by an implicit threat of violence or other punishment for non-compliance. Almost all demands articulated in the orders presented in this report involve some element of forced labour in their implementation..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Orders Reports (KHRG #2009-04 )
Format/size: html, pfd (700)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/spdc_and_dkba_order_documents_-_august_2008_to_june_200.pdf
Date of entry/update: 15 November 2009

Title: Networks of Noncompliance: Grassroots resistance and sovereignty in militarised Burma
Date of publication: 22 July 2009
Description/subject: "This paper examines repression and state–society conflict in Burma through the lens of rural and urban resistance strategies. It explores networks of noncompliance through which civilians evade and undermine state control over their lives, showing that the military regime’s brutal tactics represent not control, but a lack of control. Outside agencies ignore this state–society struggle over sovereignty at their peril: ignoring the interplay of interventions with local politics and militarisation, and claiming a ‘humanitarian neutrality’ which is impossible in practice, risks undermining the very civilians interventions are supposed to help, while facilitating further state repression. Greater honesty and awareness in interventions is required, combined with greater solidarity with villagers’ resistance strategies."... Keywords: peasant resistance; humanitarian policy; Karen; Kayin; Burma; Myanmar
Author/creator: Kevin Malseed
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Journal of Peasant Studies" (originally published by Yale Agrarian Studies Colloquium, 2008-04-25 and Karen Human Rights Group, 2008-11-10)
Format/size: pdf (203K)
Date of entry/update: 25 November 2009

Title: Abuse, Poverty and Migration: Investigating migrants' motivations to leave home in Burma
Date of publication: 10 July 2009
Description/subject: "International reporting of the large-scale migration of those leaving Burma in search of work abroad has highlighted the perils for migrant during travel and in host countries. However, there has been a lack of research in the root causes of this migration. Identifying the root causes of migration has important implications for the assistance and protection of these migrants. Drawing on over 150 interviews with villagers in rural Burma and those from Burma who have sought employment abroad, this report identifies the exploitative abuse underpinning poverty and livelihoods vulnerability in Burma which, in turn, are major factors motivating individuals to leave home and seek work abroad..." _Thailand-based interviewees explained to KHRG how exploitative abuses increased poverty, livelihoods vulnerability and food insecurity for themselves and their communities in Burma. These issues were in turn cited as central push factors compelling them to leave their homes and search for work abroad. In some cases, interviewees explained that the harmful effects of exploitative abuse were compounded by environmental and economic factors such as flood and drought and limited access to decent wage labour.[17] While the individuals interviewed by KHRG in Thailand would normally be classified as 'economic migrants', the factors which they cited as motivating their choice to migrate make it clear that SPDC abuse made it difficult for them to survive in their home areas. Hence, these people decided to become migrants not simply because they were lured to Thailand by economic incentives, but because they found it impossible to survive at home in Burma. Clearly, the distinction between push and pull factors is blurred in the case of Burmese migrants. The concept of pull factors for migrants is further complicated because migrants are not merely seeking better jobs abroad, but are instead pulled to places like Thailand and Malaysia in order to access protection. For refugees and IDPs, protection is a service that is often provided by government bodies, UN agencies and international NGOs. For refugees in particular, protection is often primarily understood to mean legal protection against refoulement - defined as the expulsion of a person to a place where they would face persecution. Beyond legal protection against refoulement, aid agencies have implemented specific forms of rights-based assistance, such as gender-based violence programmes, as part of their protection mandates. However, for migrants from Burma the act of leaving home is overwhelmingly a self-initiated protection strategy through which individuals can ensure their and their families' basic survival in the face of persistent exploitative and other abuse in their home areas. This broader understanding of protection goes beyond legal protection against refoulement and the top-down delivery of rights-based assistance by aid agencies. It involves actions taken by individuals on their own accord to lessen or avoid abuse and its harmful effects at home.[18] KHRG has chosen to use the term self-initiated protection strategy, rather than a more generic concept like 'survival strategy', in order to highlight the political agency of those who choose such migration. By seeing this protection in political terms, one can better understand both the abusive underpinnings of migration from Burma as well as the relevance of such migration to the protection mandates of governments, UN agencies and international NGOs currently providing support to conventional refugee populations. Understanding protection in this way presents opportunities for external support for the many self-initiated protection strategies (including efforts to secure employment without exploitation, support dependent family members, enrol children in school and avoid arrest, extortion and deportation) which migrant workers regularly use._
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Regional & Thematic Reports (KHRG #2009-03)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 11 November 2009

Title: Food crisis: The cumulative impact of abuse in rural Burma
Date of publication: 29 April 2009
Description/subject: Systematic militarisation and widespread exploitation of the civilian population by military forces have created poverty, malnutrition and a severe food crisis in Karen State and other parts of rural Burma. This crisis requires urgent attention by the international community - with intervention shaped by the concerns of villagers themselves. This briefer outlines the human rights abuses which have caused the food crisis; the combined impacts of these abuses upon civilian communities; the ways in which villagers have responded to and resisted abuse; and the actions that can be taken by the international community to alleviate the current crisis and to prevent future cycles of abuse and malnutrition in rural Burma.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (1.74K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2009/khrg0902.html
Date of entry/update: 12 August 2009

Title: Attacks, killings and the food crisis in Toungoo District
Date of publication: 01 August 2008
Description/subject: "SPDC troops have continued to target internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Toungoo District. Civilians continue be killed or injured by the attacks while many of the survivors flee their homes and take shelter in forest hiding sites. Some who have moved into SPDC forced relocation sites continue to secretly return to their villages to cultivate their crops, constantly risking punishment or execution by troops patrolling the areas. The SPDC's repeated disruption of regular planting cycles has created a food crisis in Toungoo, further endangering the IDPs living there. This report examines the abuses in Toungoo District from April to June 2008..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Reports (KHRG #2008-F9)
Format/size: html, pdf (880 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg08f9.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 November 2009

Title: Villagers risk arrest and execution to harvest their crops
Date of publication: 04 December 2007
Description/subject: "The months of November and December which follow the annual cessation of the rainy season mark the traditional harvest time for the agrarian communities of Karen State when villagers must venture out into their fields in order to reap their ripe paddy crops. Across large areas of Toungoo District, however, where the SPDC lacks a consolidated hold on the civilian population, this time of year has become especially perilous as the Army enforces sweeping movement restrictions backed up by a shoot on sight policy in order to eradicate the entire civilian presence in areas outside its control and restrict the population to military-controlled villages and relocation sites where they can be more easily exploited for labour, money, food and other supplies. Displaced communities in hiding thus risk potential arrest and execution by venturing out into the relatively open area of their hill side agricultural fields where they are more easily spotted by SPDC troops who regularly patrol the area. Yet, because of the Army's persistent attacks against covert farm fields, food stores and displaced communities in hiding these villagers confront a severe food shortage which has increased pressure on them to tend to their covert fields despite the risks. As a consequence some villagers have already lost their lives; having been shot by SPDC soldiers while attempting to tend their crops and address their community's rising food insecurity..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Report (KHRG #2007-F11)
Format/size: html, pdf (817 MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg07f11.pdf
Date of entry/update: 07 November 2009

Title: State agencies, armed groups and the proliferation of oppression in Thaton District
Date of publication: 24 September 2007
Description/subject: "Throughout SPDC-controlled areas of Karen State the regime has been developing civilian agencies as extensions of military authority. On top of this, the junta has continued to strengthen the more traditional forms of militarisation and, at least in Thaton District, has firmly backed the expansion of DKBA military operations to control the civilian population and eradicate KNLA forces which continue to actively patrol the area. The people of Thaton District thus face a myriad of State agencies and armed groups which have overburdened them with demands for labour, money and supplies. While engaging with these groups, addressing the demands placed on them and attending to their own livelihoods, local villagers have sought to manage a delicate balance of seemingly impossible weights..."
Language: English and Karen
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Report (KHRG #2007-F7)
Format/size: html, pdf (1 MB English; 1.3MB Karen)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg07f7_0.pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 November 2009

Title: Landmines, Killings and Food Destruction: Civilian life in Toungoo District
Date of publication: 09 August 2007
Description/subject: "The attacks against civilians continue as the SPDC increases its military build-up in Toungoo District. Enforcing widespread restrictions on movement backed up by a shoot-on-sight policy, the SPDC has executed at least 38 villagers in Toungoo since January 2007. On top of this, local villagers face the ever present danger of landmines, many of which were manufactured in China, which the Army has deployed around homes, churches and forest paths. Combined with the destruction of covert agricultural hill fields and rice supplies, these attacks seek to undermine food security and make life unbearable in areas outside of consolidated military control. However, as those living under SPDC rule have found, the constant stream of military demands for labour, money and other supplies undermine livelihoods, village economies and community efforts to address health, education and social needs. Civilians in Toungoo must therefore choose between a situation of impoverishment and subjugation under SPDC rule, evasion in forested hiding sites with the constant threat of military attack, or a relatively stable yet uprooted life in refugee camps away from their homeland. This report documents just some of the human rights abuses perpetrated by SPDC forces against villagers in Toungoo District up to July 2007..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Report (KHRG #2007-F6)
Format/size: html, pdf (1.24 MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg07f6_0.pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 November 2009

Title: The Compounding Consequences of DKBA Oppression: Abuse, poverty and food insecurity in Thaton District
Date of publication: 09 July 2007
Description/subject: "As the principal means of establishing control over the people of Thaton District, the SPDC has supported a more aggressive DKBA role in the area. With the junta's political, military and financial backing the DKBA has sought to expand its numbers, strengthen its position vis-à-vis the civilian population and eradicate the remaining KNU/KNLA presence in the region. To those ends, the DKBA has used forced labour, looting, extortion, land confiscation and movement restrictions and embarked on a hostile campaign of forced recruitment from amongst the local population. These abuses have eroded village livelihoods, leading to low harvest yields and wholly failed crops; problems which compound over time and progressively deepen poverty and malnourishment. With the onset of the rainy season and the 2007 cultivation period, villagers in Thaton District are faced with depleting provisions. This food insecurity will require that many harvest their 2007 crop as early as October while still unripe. The low yield of an early harvest, lost time spent on forced labour and the harmful fallout of further extortion and other abuses will all combine to ensure once again that villagers in Thaton District confront food shortages and increasing poverty..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Report (KHRG #2007-F5)
Format/size: html, pdf (527 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg07f5_0.pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 November 2009

Title: Provoking Displacement in Toungoo District: Forced labour, restrictions and attacks
Date of publication: 30 May 2007
Description/subject: "The first half of 2007 has seen the continued flight of civilians from their homes and land in response to ongoing State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military operations in Toungoo District. While in some cases this displacement is prompted by direct military attacks against their villages, many civilians living in Toungoo District have told KHRG that the primary catalyst for relocation has been the regular demands for labour, money and supplies and the restrictions on movement and trade imposed by SPDC forces. These everyday abuses combine over time to effectively undermine civilian livelihoods, exacerbate poverty and make subsistence untenable. Villagers threatened with such demands and restrictions frequently choose displacement in response - initially to forest hiding sites located nearby and then farther afield to larger Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps or across the border to Thailand-based refugee camps. This report presents accounts of ongoing abuses in Toungoo District committed by SPDC forces during the period of January to May 2007 and their role in motivating local villagers to respond with flight and displacement..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Report (KHRG #2007-F4)
Format/size: html, pdf (947K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg07f4_0.pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 November 2009

Title: Oppression by proxy in Thaton District
Date of publication: 21 December 2006
Description/subject: "With the onset of the cold season the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC) has been able to push ahead with military attacks against villages and displaced communities in the northern districts of Karen State. In Thaton District and other areas further south, however, the military is more firmly in control, fewer displaced communities are able to remain in hiding, and SPDC rule is facilitated by the presence of its ally the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA). By increasingly relying on DKBA forces to administer Thaton, the SPDC has been able to free up soldiers and resources which can then be deployed elsewhere. To force the civilian population into submission, the DKBA has scoured villages throughout Thaton - detaining, interrogating and torturing villagers and conscripting them to serve as army porters. Commensurate with its increased control over the civilian population, DKBA soldiers have subjected villagers to regular extortion, arbitrary and excessive 'taxation', forced labour, land confiscation and restrictions on movement, trade and education which all serve to support ongoing military rule in Thaton. By systematising control over local villagers, the SPDC and DKBA have been able to implement 'development' projects that financially benefit and further entrench the military hierarchy. Amongst such initiatives, the construction in Thaton District of the United Nations-supported Asian Highway, connecting Burma with neighbouring countries, has involved uncompensated land confiscation and forced labour..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Report (KHRG #2006-F11)
Format/size: html, pdf (619 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg06f11_0.pdf
Date of entry/update: 08 November 2009

Title: Starving Them Out: Forced Relocations, Killings and the Systematic Starvation of Villagers in Dooplaya District
Date of publication: 31 March 2000
Description/subject: "This report consists of an Introduction and Executive Summary, followed by a detailed analysis of the situation supported by quotes from interviews and excerpts from SPDC order documents sent to villages in the region. As mentioned above, an Annex to this report containing the full text of the remaining interviews can be seen by following the link from the table of contents or from KHRG upon approved request..." Forced Relocations, Killings and the Systematic Starvation of Villagers in Dooplaya District
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Regional & Thematic Reports (KHRG #2000-02)
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2000/khrg0002.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Voice of the Hungry Nation
Date of publication: October 1999
Description/subject: This document presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the People's Tribunal on Food Scarcity and Militarization in Burma. The Tribunal’s work will appeal to all readers interested in human rights and social justice, as well as anyone with a particular interest in Burma. The Asian Human Rights Commission presents this report in order to stimulate discourse on human rights and democratization in Burma and around the world.
Language: English
Source/publisher: People's Tribunal on Food Scarcity and Militarization in Burma
Format/size: English version
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmadebate.org/archives/fall99bttm.html#hungry
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Karen Human Rights Group Commentary #98-C2
Date of publication: 24 November 1998
Description/subject: "..."Things are getting more difficult every day. Even the Burmese leaders capture each other and put each other in jail. If they can capture and imprison even the people who have authority, then how are the villagers supposed to tolerate them? That’s why the villagers are fleeing from Burma." - Dta La Ku elder (M, 44) from Dooplaya district (Report #98-09) There is no doubt that life is currently becoming worse for the vast majority of people in Burma, in both urban and rural areas. In urban areas, people are plagued by high inflation, rapidly increasing prices for basic commodities such as rice and basic foodstuffs, the tumbling value of the Kyat, wages which are not enough to feed oneself, corruption by all arms of the military and civil service, and the ever-present fear of arbitrary arrest for the slightest act or statement that betrays opposition to the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC) junta..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Right Group (KHRG #98-C2)
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg98/khrg98c2.html
Date of entry/update: 22 November 2009