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Home > Burma issue > Refugees


Testimonies of Refugees

Systematic Starvation

“They are going to force our village to Kyaikdon. They said so. They wanted to separate us from the Kaw Thoo Lei (Karen National Union [KNU]/Karen National Liberation Army [KNLA]). I heard that they were going to confiscate the villagers’ rice and paddy when the villagers finished working [harvesting]. They are going to keep it in Kyaikdon. They will force the villagers to go and stay and eat there. I heard about this while the vilalgers were harvesting the paddy but they hadn’t confiscated it yet before I cam here. The village head told us in a meeting. The villagers couldn’t tell [what to do]. When they finish their work, they will run or they will hide their paddy and run. Some villagers aren’t going to send their paddy [to the Burmese].” – Villager (Male, 20) from Kya In township who fled after the SPDC announced they would confiscate the rice and relocate the village in December 1999 [“Starving Them Out”, Interview #7, KHRG].

Internally Displaced and Massacres

“The villagers were going to a ceremony for the guardian spirits of Ken Kham village tract at Meh Hin Tang . The 20 people did not come from the relocation site. They had been living in the jungle, and then they were going to the ceremony and the Burmese soldiers met them on the path and took them away…The soldiers found them on the path, they shot over their heads, so they were afraid to run away. Then they took them to another place and killed them later, but no one knows where. The Burmese soldiers didn’t kill them at that place [Meh Hin Tang].” – Shan refugee (Male, 40) telling the story of the February 12th, 2000 massacre of 20 Shan villagers by SPDC Infantry Battalian #246 in Kun Hing township [“Exiled at Home”, (KHRG #2000-03, 5/4/00), Interview #6].

Forced Relocations

“The Burmese soldiers only said, ‘All of you will be moved.’ They relocated us to Kho Lam. We had to go…The soldiers threatened that if we didn’t move, they would burn all our houses…They said we had three day.s But before the deadline the soldiers cam and drove us out. We all moved together to Kho Lam…Some people didn’t have enough food in the relocation site, so they returned to their villagers to get food. But also many people tried to forage just outside of the relocation site, and the soldiers didn’t allow us to go outside so they killed them…It was very difficult to survive in Kho Lam…Sometime the village men went back to pick their vegetables and crops. The Burmese soldiers killed them like they would kill a chicken or a bird…I heard about many incidents of Burmese soldiers killing villagers, but I only knew one. He was my Uncle. He went back to his village to gather vegetables and the Burmese shot him.” – Shan woman aged 30, explaining why she recently fled a relocation site in Nam Zang township [“Exiled at Home”, April 2000, Interview #1].

Rape and Killing

“On January 22, 2000, a patrol of 50-60 SPDC troops from IB246, together with 14 civilian porters, led by Capt. Aung Moe cam to the farm where a man and his two children were threshing rice, surrounded and arrested them. The villagers were two males aged 40 and 11 years named Lunt Ti and Zaai Lu respectively and one woman named Naang Ser, aged 18. The troops tied up the villagers, separated them to different places and interrogated them, beating and torturing them all the while. The two males were beaten to death during interrogation, but Naang Ser was repeatedly raped before eventually also being beaten to death…” (Excerpted from Shan Human Rights Foundation, March 2000 – <shrf@cm.ksc.co.th>)

Forced Labour and Religious Persecution

“There was an extreme landslide near the pagoda of Rihkhuadar during the monsoon season of 1999. The landslide damaged the pagoda. Thus, the company commander of Rihkhuadar camp, a Major in the Burmese army Light Infantry Battalion 266, ordered Chin Christian villagers to reconstruct the pagoda in November 1999.

The following villages: Zimte, Zimpi, Haimual ( A ) and ( B ), Vuakbuk, Kawilam, Khawimual and Hriangngai villages from Tidim township. And Hmunluah, Haileng, Tiau, Saek, Cawhte, Khuahlir, Tuicirh, Surbung, Lianhna, Rihkhuadar ( A ) and ( B ), Phunte, Lianhnabawk villages from Falam township were compelled to reconstruct the pagoda. There were about two hundred villagers participating in the work.

At least ten persons from every village has to work until the reconstruction of the pagoda is finished. Now, at the time of the interview, November 15, 1999, we have been working on the pagoda for two weeks and we have completed about only one fourth of the work. We carry stones from Tio river which is two miles a way from the pagoda. We place the stones in a row around the pagoda and fill it with soil.

The villagers are not paid for their labour. They have to carry their own food and tools. The family who could not work had to pay Kyat 1,500 to the army. Every day we start work at 7:30 AM and stop at 4 PM. The villagers who came late were punished by the soldiers. They had to do a hundred sit ups. …

The army knows very well that we all are farmers and that November is harvest time. They forced us to build the pagoda at the busiest time of the year without allowing us any time to work for ourselves.

Because of excessive forced labour and constant military harassment, many people from our area have fled to Mizoram State. I heard that those who fled to Mizoram have been facing many problems because they can not find jobs to make a living.” – Chin Male, 48 from Zimpi village of Falam township, Chin State [Rhododendrun Bulletin, Chin Human Rights Organization].

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