Burma Army officer beats up Karen villagers

A Burma Army officer physically assaulted four villagers from Wa Daw last week for refusing his orders to do forced labor for him.

Lt.Colonel Aung Win Htun, from Column 1 is accused of beating the four villagers from Wa Daw village, located in the Myitta sub-township, Dawei District of Tenasserim Division. Eyewitnesses said the four villagers refused to be porters and refused to give Lt.Colonel Aung Win Htun alcohol that he demanded.

The Light Infantry Battalion 588 is under the control of the number 2 Tactical Command of the 19 Operation Command headquarters based in Htee Hta village.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, described to Karen News what the army officer did to the villagers.

“On June 5th, three Wa Daw villagers who refused an order to go with soldiers as porters were slapped. On June 4, a villager from Wa Daw was hit by the army officer for not supplying him with alcohol – it was Lt. Col Aung Win Htun, himself, who slapped all of them [villagers].”

The victims of the beating were Saw Par Ye, Saw Kwar Tar, Saw Aung Kyaw Moe and Saw Achai. According to village sources, the Wa Daw village’s secretary, Saw Htee Htar Sway, took the case and reported it to the Number 2 Tactical Command, Colonel Tun Than Oo and the Number 2 Military Operations Command, Commander Colonel Zaw Hla.

A villager told Karen News that as Wa Daw village is 40 miles from Dawei Township it is difficult for villagers to report and inform the Karen National Union’s (KNU) liaison office in Dawei – it is easier to report to higher ranking, local based Burma Army officers.

“The Tactical Commanders will come to Wa Daw village and meet with Lt. Col Aung Win Htun. We are not sure what action will be taken. The villages reported the case to the Burma Army as the perpetrator is one of their officers and it is too far for us to go and report it to the KNU’s liaison office.”

On May 26, villagers claim that the 588th Light Infantry Battalion, led by Lt. Col Aung Win Htun demanded trucks from Hsin Phyu Taing and Wa Daw villages to transport military supplies and food rations.

Local sources said that the LIB 588 replaced the LIB 299 on May 26 and are currently divided into two groups and operating the area.

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