Villagers pay the price

Burma army soldiers arrested and detained four villagers from T’Kuh Khee village in Kyain Seikgyi Township Karen State, after their food supplies were destroyed by Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) fighters, local villagers told Karen News.

Four villagers from T’Kuh Khee village were taken by soldiers of the Burma army Infantry Battalion #32 on 13th of December 2011. The army units detained the villagers on suspicion that they were involved in a KNLA ambush on Burma Army forces on December 8th.

According to the village head, the four villagers who were sent to detention are identified as Saw Poe Chi Chi 29, Kyaw Phadoh 27, Saw Th’Dah 24 and Eh May Doh 20 all from T’Kuh Khee village.

The Burma Army had been attempting to send up food supplies for soldiers in Kyaik Don area, Kyain Seikgyi Township, when the attack occurred, with the KNLA managing to destroy 160 sacks of rice as a result of the attack.

Saw Yan, district coordinator of the Committee for Internally Displace Karen People who documented the case said that the incident of ambush was close to T’Kuh Khee village and that’s why Burma army picked on T’Kuh Khee villagers.

Saw Yan said.
“Village head told me that after the incident, at first Burma army said that they would fine villagers for the price of 160 sacks of rice that were destroyed. But later on, they just arrested villagers and accused them of being rebels who are responsible for the destruction of their food supplies.”

Saw Yan said that after the incident occurred on December 8, 2011, soldiers from Burma army IB #32 came into T’Kuh Khee village on December 13 and summoned all villagers.

“They [Burma army] gathered all villagers in the village and people thought that they were going to announce something. After all villagers were gathered, they divided villagers into two groups according to their gender. They made all men to take out their shirt. From then, they took ten men and put them in detention at the village church but released six of them on the next morning.”

Saw Yan said that the remaining four villagers were accused of being rebels and tortured.
“These four villagers were beaten and taken around from village to village in the area for many days.

Village head tried to approach for their release. At first, the Burma army said that if all T’Kuh Khee
villagers put their signatures that the four arrested villagers are civilians; they [Burma army] would release them. Then all villagers signed the paper but the Burma army soldiers didn’t release the arrested villagers.”

Naw Poh Loh, another T’Kuh Khee villager who witnessed the four villagers being taken away described the condition.

“They [Burma army] didn’t give the four arrested villagers food. They didn’t allow their families to contact as well. They were blind-folded as they were taken around.”

Naw Poh Loh also said that after the arrested men were taken away, villagers thought that they would have been killed, as there was no news about them for days. Later on, villagers learned that the arrested villagers were sent back to the Burma army headquarters in Mawlamyine Town in Mon State and were put in detention.

At the time of writing the four villagers were still being held in detention at Mawlamyine Town in Mon State.

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