Taungoo Township villagers scared of forced labor orders and forest fires lit by Burma Army

Villagers living in the Tandaung Township, Taungoo District accuse Burma Army soldiers of demanding of them force labor and threatening their ability to earn a living.

A villager (who security reasons is not named) told Karen News that Burma Army battalions under Division 66 ordered seven villagers from Kaw Thay Der to use their motorcycles to deliver army rations to Yaw Hsa Lo camp.

The villager said they are concerned that Burma Army soldiers are lighting forest fires on land close to where their plantations are.

“They are ordering us to work for them incessantly. They forced seven villagers from Kaw Thay Der to carry army rations on March 8th. The soldiers, on March 10th set fire to the forests near Kyi Kheh Der village.”

Villagers from Kyi Kheh Der, Klo Mu Der, Ta Aye Khee, Bu Khee, Mae Daw Kho, Khaw Thu Poe and Kaw Thay Der villages also allege that their plantations – cardamom and areca trees have been burnt by fires deliberately lit by the Burma Army.

The Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 108 and Infantry Battalions 80,1, and Light Infantry Battalions 108, 10, 6, and 4 under Division 66, together with Light Infantry Battalions 380, 375, 376, and 541 under Military Operations Command 9 are active in the Tandaung Township where the Karen National Union’s Brigade 2 soldiers have control of the area.

Despite agreeing to a preliminary ceasefire with the Karen National Union in January 2012, Karen villagers say the Burma Army is transporting more military food supplies and reinforcements to area.

Padoh Saw Eh Wah, KNU chairman of the Taungoo District, told Karen News that human right abuses were government policy for a long time before there was a preliminary ceasefire with the government.

“ We might have agreed to a ceasefire but human right abuses are still happening, but not because of the ceasefire, the abuse has been part of the Burma Army behavior for long time ago.”

A recent report by the Karen Human Rights Group documented that abuses by Burma Army soldiers were still be committed in the Tandaung and Tantabin Township from November 2011 to March 2012. Villagers, from Kler Lah, Kaw Thay Der, Kay Tho Khee, Klay Soe Khee, and Peh Kaw Day were ordered to use their cars and motorcycles transport supplies for the Burma Army.

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