Government militia force-recruiting villagers

The Burma Government’s controlled militia, the Border Guard Force (BGF) has in recent months confiscated villagers land, extorted taxes and now in the latest incident is forcing villagers to join their militia. Naw Chamu reports for Karen News.

The BGF under the command of 1017 battalion commander, Saw Dee Dee, demanded three villagers from Tee Wa Blaw village had to attend two months military training on the 28th of April 2012.

On the 23rd of April, Saw Dee Dee’s BGF soldiers, under the control of 999 Division, turned up at Tee Wa Blaw and ordered the village head to handover three men as BGF recruits by April 28.

The village headman told Karen News that the BGF soldiers, formerly known as the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) until the Burma government brought them under the direct control of its military, used the two month training as a guise to force villagers to join their armed group as soldiers.

“When the troops came into the village they threaten us that if we failed to send the three men on the 28th April for two months BGF troops would put me and my committees in detention. I told the BGF that the men they took two years ago for the same training were not allowed to return to their homes – this year none of our village men want to go.”

The village headman said the BGF ignored the villagers concerns and said ‘if you don’t send the three men you and your village committees will to go instead of them’.

Villagers claim the BGF forced villagers to join the militia army for two years, but even if they served two years there were no guarantees they could leave.

Villagers allege that when villagers did manage to escape the BGF the militia demanded the village in return supply three different men as replacements for those men who ran away.

Tee Wa Blaw village is located 10 miles north of Myawaddy Town. The village is made up of as many as 300 households. The majority of the villagers earn their living by farming and cultivation.

The area the village is in is under the control of the BGF.

The village head says he and his committee live in fear and they dare not even meet together, some have taken the precaution of hiding in a safe location.

The head says his village is constructing a bridge but people are afraid to work on it or travel in the area, as they are afraid the BGF will arrest them and force them to join BGF militia.

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