- Commentary: Situation of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Person
- Situation of extrajudicial killing
- A villager returning from his farm beaten to death in Kun-Hing
- A villager going to his farm beaten to death in Kun-Hing
- Situation of beating and torture
- Beating and robbery in Murng-Ton
- Beating, robbing, restriction and extortion in Lai-Kha
- Beating and stealing in Murng-Kerng
- Beating and stealing in Murng-Nai
- Situation of other maltreatment of civilian populations
- Villagers threatened, robbed of their chickens, in Kae-See
- A village shelled, intense forced labour causing people to flee, in Murng-Paeng
After the current nominally civilian government has been in power for more than 1 1/2 years, although it could be said that there have been some improvements in some other sectors, little could be said about the situation of human rights in many ethnic states.
In Shan State, however, one improvement may be worth mentioning under the prevailing circumstances. Except in the areas where there are still incidents of armed conflict, deliberate and direct attacks on the civilian populations e.g., killing, shooting, raping, collective torture and detention etc., have noticeably reduced.
Nevertheless, other types of abuses such as beating, stealing, confiscation, extortion and forced labour etc., not only have not decreased but have become worse even in many peaceful places. Many Burmese military authorities seem to be still enjoying using their fists, boots and sticks on ordinary civilians, though they may no longer be able to be as trigger-happy as before.
It is, therefore, high time for the Burmese military to stop all types of human rights violations against the people to show that they are really supporting the efforts of the current civilian government and the people in their march towards democracy, as stated by some high ranking military authorities.
People have been hoping that under civilian rule, the military will change their attitude and stop violating the human rights of the people, and have been apparently ready to forgive, if not forget, what they had done in the past without trying to seek revenge.
However, while merely stopping might be enough for some cases, many would actually still need certain redress to reach durable solutions. Though some may be quite difficult, they may not be altogether impossible to solve, provided the concerned authorities are willing.
As for the attitude of the people towards the military, although some may still be insistent on bringing the perpetrators to justice, ‘to forgive’ seems to be the trend among the majority at the moment, and this could prevail only if the military stop their atrocities against the people before the trend changes.
That is, if the Burmese military authorities ever think of making the armed forces into an institution that serves and protects the well being of the people, instead of maltreating them; an institution that is accountable for all its actions.
Themes & Places of Violations reported in this issue
u Themes: Extrajudicial Killing, Beating and Torture, Robbery, Restriction, Extortion, Threat and Intimidation, Shelling of Civilian Village, Forced Labour and Displacement
u Places: Kun-Hing, Murng-Ton, Lai-Kha, Murng-Kerng, Murng-Nai, Kae-See and Murng-Paeng
LIB = Light Infantry Battalion (e.g. LIB246 = Light Infantry Battalion No. 246)
IB = Infantry Battalion
Arbitrary killings of villagers by roaming Burmese army patrols in rural Shan State, which have been rampant over the last several decades under direct military rule, appear to have reduced since the current nominally civilian government came to power.
Except in areas where there were still incidents of armed conflict, there have been few incidents of killings of villagers, especially since the beginning of 2012. However, this is only in the areas where SHRF can effectively monitor.
The following 2 instances have taken place around the end of 2011, which SHRF has learned from fellow villagers of the victims who came to the Thai border in mid 2012.
Around the end of 2011, a villager who was returning from tending his farm was beaten to death by a patrol of Burmese army troops on mere suspicion of being a Shan rebel, in Saai Khaao village in Saai Khaao village tract, Kun-Hing township.
On the day of the incident, in the late morning around 11:00 a.m., a patrol of about 40 Burmese army troops came to Saai Khaao village in Saai Khaao village tract in Kun-Hing township and said that they suspected there were still Shan soldiers, disguised as villagers and gathering information about their movements, in and around the village.
The Burmese troops then waited in the village, saying they would keep a watch on those going and coming, especially strangers. Because of the presence of the Burmese troops, virtually no villagers dared to come out into the streets, except for a few who had really urgent matters to attend to.
However, when it was time for those who had gone out to work outside the village to return, at about 5 o’clock in the evening, Zaai Aw (m), aged 45, who had gone to harvest sesame at his remote farm, returned to the village without knowing there were Burmese soldiers in it.
As soon as Zaai Aw entered Saai Khaao village, the Burmese troops surrounded and seized him and tied him up with a rope, and without asking any question, beat him until he was dead. After killing Zaai Aw, the troops talked loudly among themselves that they were happy for being able to eliminate one of their enemies.
The Burmese troops also accused other villagers of not being willing to cooperate with them to eliminate the enemies of the country. But the villagers dared not say anything and kept quiet for fear of further abuses, even though the victim was only an innocent ordinary villager.
Sometime around the end of 2011, a villager of Naa Mon village in Saai Khaao village tract, Kun-Hing township, who was going to his farm was beaten to death by a patrol of Burmese army troops, on the way between Naa Mon and Saai Khaao villages.
On the day of the incident, Lung Naan Aw of Naa Mon village was going to his farm when he ran into a patrol of Burmese army troops on the way at a place known as Samurng Pu Zae. Lung Naan Aw was beaten to death by the Burmese troops at the said place.
When Lung Naan Aw had not returned home, and news about Burmese soldiers boasting about having killed a Shan rebel had spread, his relatives went to look for him and found his dead body on the side of the road at the said place.
Lung Naan Aw was apparently tortured and beaten to death because there were many bruises and wounds all over him. His relatives took his remains back to their village and conducted a funeral for him according to their tradition.
Although the Burmese army troops appear to have somewhat refrained from arbitrarily killing civilian villagers, many of them are still happy to use their fists, boots and sticks to torture them while committing other abuses against them.
The following are some such instances:
In late September 2012, a villager who was sick was severely beaten and robbed of his money by Burmese army troops from IB225 manning a checkpoint at Pung Pa Khem, a sub-township in Murng-Ton township.
This checkpoint was one of those that had been finding fault with and extorting money from travellers going to or coming from Thailand that had to pass through them over many years during the time under direct military rule.
Under the current nominally civilian government, although the practice of finding fault has somewhat reduced because more freedom of movement has been allowed, the practice of extortion has been continuing unabated up to the present, and even getting worse in many places.
Since it has become less easy to find fault with travellers and extort large amounts of money, some checkpoints have made it a rule to specify certain amounts of money that travellers are required to pay in order to be allowed to pass through them.
In this case, the said checkpoint demanded 300 Thai baht from each traveller passing through it. Those who could not or refused to pay would not be allowed to pass through or could even be persecuted in many ways, as evidenced by this case.
On 25 September 2012, a villager named Zaai Awng, male, aged 40, who was a worker in a ginger farm, owned by a certain ethnic Chinese, south of Pung Pa Khem town and west of BP-1 border point, went to Pung Pa Khem town in order to buy some medicine because he was not feeling well.
Zaai Awng was stopped by the Burmese troops manning the checkpoint and told to pay 300 baht if he wanted to pass through it. He then explained about his situation that he was not coming from Thailand, but from a farm just south of the town.
Zaai Awng said that he was going into the town only to buy some medicine because he was sick, and he was only carrying with him 300 baht of money. But the troops said they would not let him pass through the checkpoint without paying the required 300 baht.
When Zaai Awng refused to give the money and tried to walk away, the troops seized him and forcibly took all 300 baht of his money, and beat and kicked him several times before they let him go, badly spraining one of his legs.
According to the local people, whoever wanted to pass through their checkpoint would have to pay the designated amount of tax money to the troops, no matter where they were going to or coming from. Those who refused or were unable to pay were harassed or even beaten, like in this case.
In early 2012, up to around mid 2012 when this report was received, Burmese army troops manning checkpoints in Lai-Kha town and vicinity have beaten, robbed, restricted and extorted money from people and vehicles passing through the checkpoints.
In January 2012, a villager was beaten and his motorcycles were taken by the Burmese troops manning a checkpoint called Ta Maak Laang at one of the entrances of Lai-Kha town. The villager was told to leave his motorcycles and run away if he did not want to be arrested and put in jail.
On 14 January 2012, Zaai Ki (not his real name) of Ho Nawng village in Wan Paang village tract in Lai-Kha township was arrested and his 2 motorcycles were unloaded from a car by the Burmese troops manning Ta Maak Laang checkpoint.
The troops accused Zaai Ki of trying to take those motorcycles to the Shan soldiers in the area and beat him severely with a stick, 3 times on the back. He explained that he had bought the 2 China-made motorcycles from Murng-Kerng township with the intention to sell them in Wan Thi village tract in Lai-Kha township.
The troops then said that the motorcycles would be confiscated because they had no licences and Zaai Ki would be arrested and put in jail for owning them. They also told him to run away if he did not want to be arrested, and they would just say the motorcycles were confiscated without owners.
Zaai Ki was hurt from the beating and too frightened to say anything more to the troops. He walked away from the checkpoint as quickly as he could, leaving with the troops the 2 new motorcycles which he had bought at the price of 700,000 kyat.
In February 2012, an order imposing restrictions on people travelling in Lai-Kha township was issued. All vehicles that travelled out of town to all directions were required to inform the checkpoints they passed through about their journey, e.g, where they were going or coming from. Furthermore, the number of people which had gone out of town on a vehicle would have to be the same when they returned to the town.
All vehicles passing through Ta Maak Laang checkpoint also had to pay ‘wheel taxes’ to the Burmese troops at the following rate: A motorcycle was required to pay 1,000 kyat, a mini-tractor 2,000 kyat and a car or truck 5,000 kyat.
Around the end of 2011, a villager of Huay Zerk village in Murng Khun village tract in Murng-Kerng township was beaten by a patrol of Burmese army troops until he lost conscious, and his knife was also stolen away, in his farm some distance from his village.
Lung Ta, male, a Palaung villager from Huay Zerk village was working in his farm about one-hour-walk from his village when a patrol of Burmese army troops came to him and accused him of waiting to help guide fleeing Shan soldiers from the north.
There had been a skirmish not long ago in Kae-See township to the north between Shan and Burmese army troops, and the Burmese troops thought that some Shan soldiers would have fled towards the area and they suspected Lung Ta was waiting to guide them.
The Burmese troops interrogated Lung Ta for some time, beating and kicking him until he lost consciousness. When Lung Ta regained consciousness a few hours later, he could see no Burmese soldiers and his knife, with which he used to work, was also missing.
Sometime around the end of 2011, a villager of Wan Hae village in Murng-Nai township was robbed of his chicken and severely beaten up until he lost consciousness by a patrol of Burmese army soldiers from IB248.
On the day of the incident, a patrol of about 15 Burmese army troops from IB248 came to Wan Hae village in Murng-Nai township. They seized a chicken, a large rooster, near a villager’s house and took it away without asking the owner.
When the owner, Zaai Ta (not his real name), saw that his only rooster was stolen by the Burmese troops, he went and asked them to give it back to him. The troops then became angry and accused him of being an enemy for not wanting to help them.
The Burmese troops beat Zaai Ta until he fell down on the ground and continued to kick him in the stomach until he lost consciousness before they left the village, taking his chicken away with them and leaving him lying on the ground.
Using threats and intimidation to frighten the villagers while committing other abuses against them has been one of the long-standing practices of the Burmese army troops up to the present.
The use of forced labour has still been rampant in many areas and firing mortar shells into the villages has been frequent occurrences, at least up to early 2012.
The following are some such instances:
In mid 2012, villagers in Wan Zing village tract in Kae-See township were threatened with forced relocation and robbed of their chickens by a patrol of Burmese army troops searching for Shan rebels in the area south of Wan Zing village.
During late April and May 2012, a combined force of Burmese army troops from the military bases in Wan Zing village tract in Kae-See township and in Kho Lam village tract in Kun-Hing township, jointly searched the area south of Wan Zing, including Nam Luk and Phuay Hur villages.
The stated reason for the search by the Burmese troops was that they believed the villagers in the area had sent many young men to receive training from the Shan resistance force and some of them had now come back to work for them.
The Burmese troops thought that those young men were now living in the villages like ordinary villagers, but were secretly gathering information about their movement for the Shan resistance, and, furthermore, if they had a chance, may even secretly murder as many isolated Burmese soldiers as they could.
One day in late April 2012, one of the said Burmese army patrols came to Nam Luck village in Wan Zing village tract and told the villagers about what they thought and threatened to impose severe punishment against them if any Burmese soldiers disappeared or were killed in such a way in the area.
“If our soldiers disappear or are secretly killed in your area, you will be held responsible. Your whole village will even be forced to move away”, said the Burmese troops to the villagers. After that, the troops killed 9 villagers’ chickens with sticks and stones and took them away.
In early 2012, intense use of forced labour by the Burmese army troops has caused many villagers to flee and shelling of a village by them has injured a child, in Murng Pu Long village tract in Murng-Paeng township.
From the beginning to around mid 2012 when this report was received, contingents of Burmese army troops from LIB314, based in Kaeng-Tung township and IB43, based in Murng-Paeng township, were assigned to patrol the area of Murng Pu Long village tract in Murng-Paeng township.
The Burmese troops, about a company from each of the said battalions, were deployed at Wan Tong village in Murng Pu Long village tract in Murng-Paeng township. From their camp at Wan Tong, they frequently sent out several small patrols to search for the Shan soldiers who they believed were active in the area.
During the period, patrols of the said Burmese army troops have forcibly and routinely used unpaid civilian porters and guides as they regularly roamed the mountainous areas along the eastern bank of the Salween river in Murng Pu Long village tract.
Villages in the area were required to provide porters several times a month and for about 4-5 days each time, causing virtually nonstop rotation of several shifts of porters each month. This has caused many villagers who could not bear the hardship to flee the area.
One of the villages, Si Paw, in Murng Pu Long village tract, which had more than 30 houses in the previous year, was virtually deserted in early 2012. Only 2-3 houses were seen occupied by a few villagers in February 2012.
Unable to survive in their village, one after another, most of them have now come to Thailand to find better means of survival. According to them, Si Paw village would soon be inevitably deserted in the end if the situation remained the same longer.
In February 2012, the said Burmese army troops attacked a stronghold occupied by Shan soldiers on Loi Seng mountain west of Waeng Hawng village in Murng Pu Long village tract. The Shan soldiers fought back and retreated into the jungle after killing 3 Burmese soldiers, including a 3-stripe Sergeant.
Angered by their loss, the Burmese soldiers dropped 6 rounds of 60mm mortar shells into Waeng Hawng village, which they believed was where the Shan soldiers got their food, from the mountain stronghold they had just taken.
The mortar shells caused some damage in the village and a shrapnel of one of the shells grazed the head of a 10-year-old boy, son of Pi Man and Naang Hurn, causing serious injury. Some time later, the Burmese troops came to Waeng Hawng village and told the villagers that those who attacked the Shan soldiers were members of the Lahu people’s militia force in the area, and returned to their camp at Wan Tong village.