Shan Human Rights Foundation

December- 2011

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COMMENTARY: Stealing and Extortion of Livestock
One of the most oppressive practices for the people of Shan State, especially the rural communities, among the various factors that have helped keep them poor under military rule for decades, has been the rampant stealing and extortion of their livestock by the Burmese army troops.
Even though it had been expected that after the establishment of the nominally civilian government, the troops, which were supposed to be under the control of the government, would start to behave themselves, it has not been the case in regard to various human rights violations committed by them, including the stealing and extortion of people’s livestock.
Up until as recently as late this year, the Burmese army troops have been killing, stealing and extorting villagers’ cattle, pigs and chickens at will, with no sign of willingness to stop the despicable practice.
The Burmese troops have been doing this with no sympathy towards the villagers. Even draught animals which farmers used to work their farms were not spared, the killing of which could mean the destruction of their livelihood.
Furthermore, as reported in this month’s issue, a visit of higher military authorities has also often been a cause for more extortion of livestock and other food stuff, since the local troops wanted to please their superiors by serving delicious meals during their stay.
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RANDOM SHOOTING AND STEALING OF CATTLE
Burmese army troops often shot and stolen villagers’ cows and buffalos as they roamed the rural areas of Shan State over the last 4-5 decades, with or without the knowledge of the owners.
The villagers or their vehicles were also often forcibly conscripted to carry the stolen animals, or their meat, and go with military patrols or back to military bases.
The following are some such instances:

VILLAGER’S COWS SHOT AND STOLEN, TRACTOR CONSCRIPTED FOR FORCED LABOUR, IN KAE-SEE AND SI-PAW
In September 2011, 6 cows belonging to a villager of Loi Yoi village in Wan Waab village tract in Kae-See township, were shot and stolen by a contingent of Burmese army troops from Si-Paw township.
During September and October 2011, a contingent of about 100 Burmese army troops, based in Si-Paw township, were deployed in Wan Waab village tract in Kae-See township to patrol the areas northeast of Kae-See town.
On 29 September 2011, a patrol of the said Burmese army troops surrounded a herd of cows in the area of Loi Yoi village in Wan Waab village tract in Kae-See township and shot at them, killing 6 cows on the spot.
The Burmese army troops then cut up all the cows and took all the meat. They ate some at that place and loaded the rest on a civilian tractor, which they conscripted from Si-Paw township. The tractor driver was then ordered to take the meat back to the military base in Si-Paw township.
All the 6 cows that were stolen by the Burmese army troops belonged to a village couple, Lung Mu-Lin and Pa Kham Zing, of Loi Yoi village in Wan Waab village tract in Kae-See township. But they dared not do anything about it for fear of further abuses.
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A DRAUGHT BUFFALO SHOT AND STOLEN, A TRUCK TAKEN FOR FORCED LABOUR, IN KAE-SEE
In July 2011, a buffalo that was used to plough a rice field, and left grazing during a rest, was shot and stolen by a patrol of Burmese army troops from IB132, in a rice field near Kaad Paeng village in Ha Waan village tract in Kae-See township.
On 3 July 2011, a group of about 40 Burmese army troops from IB132 conscripted a civilian truck in Kae-See town and forced it to take them along the main road leading to Wan Hai village tract in the township.
But before they reached Wan Hai village tract, at a place north of Wan Pung village in Paang Zae village tract, the Burmese troops stopped the truck, got down from it and continued to walk away from the main road.
At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon of the same day, the Burmese troops reached a rice field near Kaad Paeng village in Ha Waan village tract, coinciding with the time when some men and women were taking a rest from ploughing and planting the field, letting their buffalos graze along the banks of a nearby stream.
When the troops were still some distance away, the farmers saw them and, out of fear, immediately ran away and hid in the nearby forest. The troops, on their part, also saw the farmers at the same time and rushed after them, but they could not catch up with any of them.
The Burmese troops then saw one of the buffalos the farmers left grazing near a stream, and they shot and killed it right away. The farmers, after seeing the troops kill the buffalo from their hiding place, secretly returned to their village, knowing the troops would be there for quite some time.
Two days later, when they knew the Burmese troops had left the rice field, the farmers went and have a look. When they saw the evidence, they knew that at least one buffalo had been cut up and eaten near the rice field, on the bank of a nearby stream.
According to the owner, Lung Lon (m), a villager of Kaad Paeng village, it was a big male buffalo with 3 years of experience working on the rice fields, and could easily get not less than 300,000 kyat if sold in the market.
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A PIG EXTORTED, A COW SHOT AND STOLEN, IN MURNG-NAI
In August 2011, a patrol of Burmese army troops from LIB576 forced the villagers of Wan Kalaa village in Naa Khaan village tract in Murng-Nai township to give them a pig, and later shot and stole a cow near Nawng Pae village in the same village tract.
On 8 August 2011, a patrol of Burmese army troops from LIB576 came to Wan Kalaa village in Naa Khaan village tract in Murng-Nai township and ordered the villagers to provide them with a pig. But there was no pig in the village at the time and the villagers had to give the troops 5 viss (1 viss = 1.6 kg) of chickens instead.
From Wan Kalaa village the Burmese troops continued to Nawng Pae village, in the same village tract, which they passed through and did nothing to the villagers. However, in the hill some distance west of the village, they shot and stole a cow.
It was later learned the cow that had been shot and stolen by the Burmese troops belonged to Lung Thun Zing (m) of Nawng Pae village. According to the owner, his cow was worth not less than 150,000 kyat in the market.

A BUFFALO SHOT AND STOLEN, PORTERS CONSCRIPTED, IN MURNG-KERNG
In January 2011, a buffalo belonging to villagers of Huay Zerk village in Murng-Kerng township was shot and stolen by a patrol of Burmese army troops from a military unit known locally as Loi Awn Camp, based in Murng-Kerng town.
On 20 January 2011, a patrol of about 30 Burmese army troops from Loi Awn Camp came to patrol the area of Huay Zerk village in Murng-Kerng township. On their way to Huay Zerk area, the troops conscripted a villager from a nearby village, Huay Noi, to serve as a guide.
After patrolling the area of Huay Zerk village for a while, the troops came upon a big female buffalo grazing alone in an empty rice farm. There was no one to be seen in and around the farm when the troops saw the buffalo.
The Burmese troops immediately shot and killed the buffalo, and quickly cut it up on the spot. They then carried all the meat and returned to their base in the town. The civilian guide was also forced to become a porter to carry some of the meat and go with the troops until they reached their base.
Although he did not know the name of the owner, the guide, who was from the nearby Huay Noi village, was sure that the buffalo belonged to the villagers of Huay Zerk, one of the many villages of the Palaung people in Murng-Kerng township.
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A COW KILLED, ITS LEGS CUT AND STOLEN, IN MURNG-NAI
In September 2011, a cow, belonging to the villagers of Pa Saa village in Nawng Hee village tract in Murng-Nai township, was killed by a group of Burmese army soldiers of LIB576, who cut and took away all of its legs.
On 10 September 2011, Zaai Ling and his wife Naang Zoi (not their real names) of Pa Saa village in Nawng Hee village tract in Murng-Nai township let their herd of cows go and graze in a marshland about 1 kilo south of their village, a place named ‘Khaai Nawng Khai’.
On that day, the owners needed to attend to a more urgent matter and did not go to look after their cows, expecting that they would come home by themselves in the evening. The cows did return home by themselves that evening, but one of them, a big cow, was missing.
The next morning, the villagers let their cows go to graze at the same place and they followed them in order to look for the missing cow. As if they knew their owners’ purpose, the cows led them straight to where the missing cow was.
It was just a carcass of a cow with no legs, but the owners recognized their cow by looking at its head. There were many wounds in the neck and body of the cow as if it was thrust with pointed objects many times, and all the whole 4 legs were missing.
After some inquiries, the cow owners learned that on the day their cow went missing, there were many villagers who saw a group 3-4 Burmese soldiers went into the marshland, each carrying a long pole with a pointed knife attached to one end.
The said villagers were from Pa Saa village who had gone to fetch water from a pond close to the marshland and they recognized and knew that those Burmese soldiers were from the military camp just east of their village, manned by the Burmese army troops of LIB576.
After some assessments based on available evidence, all the villagers, including the cow owners and those who saw the Burmese soldiers, came to the same conclusion: The cow was killed and stolen by the Burmese soldiers from LIB576. However, no one dared to do anything about it.
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SHOOTING AND STEALING OF PIGS
Although pigs and chickens have been usually extorted on a more or less regular basis, the Burmese army troops often shot and stole them, with or without the knowledge of the owner.
Sometimes, the pigs were forcibly taken from the hands of their crying and struggling owners.
The following are some such incidents:

A PIG SHOT AND STOLEN IN LAI-KHA
In July 2011, a pig belonging to a villager of Zalaai Loi village in Paang Phon village tract in Lai-Kha township was shot and stolen by a patrol of Burmese army troops and members of a Shan ceasefire group.
On 26 July 2011, a military patrol of 16 Burmese army troops of IB64 and 5 members of a Shan ceasefire group, based at Wan Paang village in Wan Saang village tract, came to Zalaai Loi village in Paang Phon village tract, in Lai-Kha township.
As they came into Zalaai Loi village, the Burmese troops saw a pig near a villager’s house and without making any inquiry shot the pig dead, cut it up, took all the pork and immediately left the village without saying anything to anyone in the village.
The owner was not at home when his pig was shot and stolen by the Burmese troops, which happened just near his house. But many other villagers saw the incident, though no one dared to say anything to or go near the Burmese troops for fear of further abuses.
According to the owner, his pig was quite a big one which could produce not less than 30 viss (1 viss = l.6 kg) of pork. In the market, it could easily be sold for not less than 120,000 kyat, he said.
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A PIG FORCIBLY TAKEN AWAY IN FRONT OF ITS OWNER, IN MURNG-NAI
In July 2011, a pig was forcibly taken by a patrol of Burmese army troops from its owner in Loi Waw village in Murng-Nai township, even as the owner cried and tried to prevent them from taking it away.
On 7 July 2011, a patrol of about 60 Burmese army troops came from the direction of Larng-Khur township to Loi Waw village in Murng-Nai township. When they saw a pig that was tied under a villager’s house, some of the troops came and pulled it away.
When the owner, Lung Zin-Na (not his real name), saw his pig was being taken away by the Burmese troops he tried to stop them by begging for mercy, telling them that it was the only property he had. But the troops did not listen to him.
The owner continued to beg the troops for mercy, crying and telling them that his was a female pig which he intended to keep to breed more pigs in the future, and tried to pull back his pig. The Burmese troops, however, pushed him down to the ground and dragged his pig away.
The owner said that his pig was strong and healthy and would be able to give birth to many pigs for many years in the future if he had a chance to keep it. It was already worth over 100,000 kyat in the market at the time it was taken away.

A PIG SHOT AND STOLEN WHILE THE OWNERS WERE AWAY, IN KUN-HING
In April 2011, a pig was shot and stolen by a patrol of Burmese army troops from IB295 at Paang Sak village in Kaeng Lom village tract in Kun-Hing township, while most of the villagers, including the pig’s owners, had gone to prepare their farms for rice cultivation.
On 3 April 2011, a patrol of Burmese army troops, from a contingent of troop of IB295 manning a checkpoint at the Salween river bridge at Ta Kaw village in Murng-Paeng township, came to Paang Sak village in Kaeng Lom village tract in Kun-Hing township.
It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and most of the villagers who had gone to work at their farms preparing for rice cultivation had not yet returned. There were only some elderly villagers and small children left in the village.
The Burmese troops went around the village, taking what they wanted, mostly food stuff. After about an hour, they shot and killed a pig in the village and carried it away with them as they left the village.
When all the villagers who had gone to work returned to the village in the evening, and having learned about the stealing of a pig by the Burmese troops from the elderly villagers, they checked to see whose pig had been stolen.
It was a pig of Wa-Lo-Ka and his wife Naang Naang. According to them, their pig was large enough to produce more than 30 viss (1 viss = 1.6 kg) of pork. The whole pig was worth about 150,000 kyat if sold in the market.
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A PIG STOLEN, VILLAGERS FORCED TO SERVE AS GUIDES AND PORTERS, IN KAE-SEE
In March 2011, a pig was stolen and 2 villagers, who had been conscripted as guides, were forced to carry it by a patrol of Burmese army troops from IB287, at Kawng Khaet village in Wan Zing village tract in Kae-See township.
On 19 March 2011, sometime in late morning, a patrol of about 60 Burmese army troops from IB287, based at Wan Zing village in Wan Zing village tract in Kae-See township, came to Kawng Khaet village in the same village tract and stopped for a rest in the village.
During the day, some Burmese troops went around the village to gather vegetables and some other food stuff. Although they found 3 pigs in a villager’s pig sty, they did not do anything at the time but returned and reported it to their commander.
At about 6 o’clock in the evening, the commander of the Burmese army patrol said that they needed some guides to lead them to Nam Mawng village, another village in the same village tract, by a shortcut route.
The Burmese troops then conscripted 2 villagers of Kawng Khaet village to serve as guides. At about 8 o’clock the troops started to move out of the village and the villagers heard a lot of noises in the streets.
The villagers also heard a pig scream a couple of times. But no one dared go out of their houses because it was dark and they were afraid of the Burmese soldiers, and the pig sty was some distance away from the owner’s house.
In the morning, when the owner, Lung Aw, went to see his pigs, there were only 2 left in the sty. Lung Aw was sure that one of his pigs, worth about 70,000 kyat, had been stolen away by the Burmese miliary patrol.
Lung Aw, however, considered himself lucky because the Burmese troops had not taken all his pigs away, which they could have easily done so had they wanted. It was later learned that as they left the village, the troops quickly seized one of the pigs, tied it to a pole and forced the 2 villages conscripted as guides to carry it away with them.
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EXTORTION OF CHICKENS
Chickens have been the most commonly extorted domestic animals by the Burmese troops from the rural communities in rural Shan State.
Apart from having to regularly provide chickens for the Burmese army troops in their respective areas, the villagers were often forced to provide more chickens to roaming military patrols, or for other special purposes.
The following are such instances:

EXTORTION OF CHICKENS IN MURNG-NAI

In July 2011, chickens were extorted from the villagers of Wan Khaai village in Wan Hae village tract in Murng-Nai township by the Burmese army troops of IB248.
In early July 2011, the Burmese military authorities of IB248, based in Murng-Nai township, issued an order requiring the villagers of Wan Khaai village in Wan Hae village tract to bring 20 viss (1 viss = 1.6 kg) of chickens to the military base.
The villagers pleaded with the military authorities to let them provide only 10 viss of chickens, instead of 20 viss, because they had to face many difficulties to procure such amount of chickens in a short period of time.
The Burmese troops, however, said that they had nothing to do with the villagers’ hardship and were not interested in it. The only thing they knew and were interested in was to get the full amount of chickens as ordered.
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EXTORTION OF CHICKENS AND OTHER FOOD STUFF, CONSCRIPTION OF VEHICLES, IN MURNG-KERNG
In January 2011, 30 viss (1 viss = 1.6 kg) of chickens and 3 large baskets of vegetables were extorted from the villagers of Paang Leng village in Wan Phui village tract in Murng-Kerng township by the Burmese army troops of LIB514.
On 8 January 2011, a group of 12 Burmese army troops from LIB514 came to Paang Leng village in Wan Phui village tract, by a civilian truck they had conscripted in Murng-Kerng town, which they released as they reached Paang Leng village.
The Burmese troops told the villagers of Paang Leng village that they had come to find some food stuff to bring back to their battalion base in Murng-Kerng town, and they would like to ask the villagers to help them by providing any sort of food they could afford.
Within a few hours, the villagers brought 3 large baskets full of different kinds of vegetables, including mustard, cabbage and pumpkin, etc., and gave them to the Burmese soldiers. The soldiers accepted the ‘gifts’, but did not leave the village.
After a while, the Burmese soldiers again told the villagers that just only vegetables were not good enough. They also needed something better than vegetables, e.g., beef, pork or chicken, because senior military authorities from Tawng-Gi (the capital of Shan State) would be visiting them on 10 January 2011.
Because the villager could not catch their chickens during the day, the Burmese soldiers waited until 10 o’clock into the night, until the villagers were able to catch about 30 viss of chickens for them.
The troops then conscripted a tractor from a villager of Paang Leng village, Lung Thun, and forced him to transport them, the vegetables and the chickens back to their base in Murng-Kerng town.
After reaching their base and on releasing the tractor, the Burmese soldiers told the driver to say that, when asked by the townspeople, they had bought the vegetables and the chickens from the villagers of Wan Phui village.

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