BGF steal land and mine homes

Villagers from Htee Law Thi accuse Border Guard Force soldiers of laying landmines around their homes and on footpaths.

Saw Pa Dee, the villager headman, explained to Karen News that villagers are scared to leave their homes.

“Villagers have already stepped on four landmines, luckily only one exploded. Our animals – a dog, a pig and a goat – exploded three mines killing all of them.”

Htee Law Thi is in Myawaddy Township and has been the target of BGF Battalion 1019 led by second-in-command Kyaw Paw.

A villager said he is afraid of the mines after his neighbour, Pa Kyaw Way stepped on a mine near the monastery.

“Five days ago he was on his way to get grass for his cow, the mine exploded, hitting his arms and eyes.”

Villagers claim the BGF have also mined the main road into the village and put in place a 6am to 6pm curfew. A villager told Karen News that extra mines are laid during the curfew to restrict peoples movements.

“Sometimes they [BGF] forget to take out the landmine after 6 AM. It is difficult for us to move around the village or go to our fields. We can the see landmines in our village. I can’t imagine how many are in our fields.”

Villagers say the BGF Commander, Kyaw Paw told them to follow instructions and they would come to no harm.

“We do not intend to harm villagers, we do this to protect ourselves from the Karen National Union (KNU) from attacking. So just follow what we told you and you won’t be in any trouble.”

There are 200 households in the Htee law Thi village and is under the direct control of the Border Guard Force.

Saw Pa Dee said the BGF brought their families to Htee law Thi and build up their houses and military camp on villagers’ farmlands.

“Recently three families lost their farms to the BGF and were not paid compensation for their lost. It is rumored the BGF are planning to build more military camps and will force villagers off their farms. We believe 20 more farms will be taken from the villagers by the BGF.”

Earlier this year, a BGF leader, Major General Maung Chit Thu called a series of three meetings with villagers to discuss land confiscation. During the meeting the BGF reassured villagers that compensation would be paid for their land.

Villagers claim that at a fourth meeting Major General Maung Chit Thu said their land had no official papers and no proof of ownership therefore, the BGF did not need to pay compensation and they could take the land and do what they wanted with it.

Villagers said that at the meeting they made it clear that they had entitlement to the land as they had paid their taxes for their farms every year.

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