In early October, the Burma Army’s militia, the Border Guard Force based in Kawkariek Township, issued orders to local villages requesting their rice paddy be donated as rations for their soldiers.
A resident told Karen News that the villages are in a tight spot as they have been officially ordered to send between 50 to 100 tins (equal to 1045 kilo grams and 2090 kilo grams respectively) of rice paddy to Saw Htay Naing the commander of BGF Battalion 1021.
“An official letter was sent to us in the second week of October saying that after this harvest, we have to pay a certain amount of rice paddy to them [BGF]. We don’t know whether they [BGF} will pay small amount of compensate or not for our paddy.”
The BGF order will affect small villages with 100 households and big villages with between 500 to a 1000 households.
A villager (who asked not to be named for security) explained to Karen News.
“We may have to pay them with the cash as our harvest yield will be low because of the bad weather we had this year. It’s a big problem for us. We don’t have choices we have to pay anyway since we are afraid of their weapons.”
Villagers say it is not the first time they have had pay for the paddy to feed militia aligned to the Burma Army -the Army’s former militia, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, collected rice from villagers at half price of its market value.
The BGF was intended as a strategy by the Burma government to unarm, reduce the number of soldiers in the armed ceasefire groups and bring them under the direct control of the Burma Army.