Shan Human Rights Foundation Monthly Report-October 2004
The attitude the Burmese military junta’s troops have towards the people in Shan State is that of an occupying army. They see the people as their enemies, or their slaves, and treat them as such.
Since the Burmese army troops are trained to be brutal, and are enjoying a high degree of impunity, they are always ready and quick to use brute force against the defenseless people.
Beating and inflicting physical pain is so common, especially in the rural areas, that villagers praise Burmese military commanders who beat people less. “This commander is good. He only beat me 2 times in the whole month,” they would say.
Although beating is most common, killing and rape are also frequent occurrences. People have been killed under various circumstances, often without apparent reason, almost always with impunity.
In this issue, 4 cases of gang-rape involving 7 women which have taken place during the middle of this year have been reported, evidence that rape is still used as a kind of weapon.
All the cases documented in this issue involve inflicting physical and mental pain, beating or otherwise, on the victims by the SPDC troops, while committing other types of human rights violations.
All this is glaring evidence that the Burmese junta’s troops in Shan State have absolutely no respect for even the most basic and essential human rights to life, liberty and security of person of the people under their control.
A BAMBOO GATHERER BEATEN TO DEATH IN LAI-KHA
In June 2004, one of 2 villagers who were gathering bamboo for the military was beaten to death by SPDC troops of LIB525 in the forest near Maw Sem village in Wan Lur village tract, Lai-Kha township.
On 7 June 2004, 2 villagers of Maw Sem village, Zaai In-Da (m), aged 32, and Zaai Num (m), went into the forest with an ox-cart to gather bamboo to build fences for the military as it was their turn to provide free forced labour. At one point, when Zaai In-Da was loading bamboo on the ox-cart alone, as Zaai Num had gone into the nearby bush to relief himself, a patrol of SPDC troops LIB515 came to the site.
When Zaai Num saw the SPDC troops, he ran away and escaped. But Zaai In-Da had no time to run and was caught by the SPDC troops and beaten to death right beside his ox-cart. The SPDC troops also took away the 2 oxen and killed them for meat.
When Zaai In-Da had not returned by the time he should have, his relatives and the village leader reported it to the military authorities and a patrol of troops was sent out to look into the matter.
The SPDC troops said that they found a green hat, the type worn by Shan soldiers, and a magazine and some ammunition at the site and accused the Shan soldiers of having killed Zaai In-Da for gathering bamboo for the Burmese military.
A DISPLACED VILLAGER BEATEN TO DEATH IN MURNG-PAN
In June 2004, a displaced villager who was gathering thatch was beaten to death by SPDC troops from LIB520, at a place about 4 kilometres south of Ho Phaai Long village in Ho Phaai Long village tract, Murng-Pan township.
The victim, Lung Kawn (m), aged 49, was originally from Paang Kwaai Nur village in Paang Kwaai Tai village tract, Murng-Pan township, that had been forcibly relocated in 1999 to Ho Phaai Long village by the SPDC troops.
On 29 June 2004, Lung Kawn was gathering thatch to use as roofing materials in a field about 4 kms south of Ho Phaai Long village when a patrol of about 35 SPDC troops from LIB520, led by commander Aung Htun, came and beat him to death in the thatch field.
According to the local villagers, Lung Kawn was just a simple ordinary villager who did not talk much and had not travelled far from his village. No one knew why he was beaten to death by the SPDC troops because Lung Kawn had done nothing wrong.
A DISPLACED VILLAGER SHOT DEAD DURING FORCED LABOUR IN KUN-HING
In April 2004, a displaced villager who was being forced to guard a road was shot dead by SPDC troops from IB246 at a place east of Paang Nim village in Saai Mon village tract, Kun-Hing township.
On 3 April 2004, Kaw-Ma-La (m), agd 40, from Paang Nim village was required to keep watch on the road east of the village as it was his turn to provide forced labour imposed by the SPDC troops at Paang Nim village relocation site.
Paang Nim village was a relocation site, to which several surrounding villages had been forcibly relocated in 1996 by the then SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) troops, with about 700 houses of displaced villagers controlled by a military camp, at which dispatches of SPDC troops from either LIB524 or IB246 were stationed in turns.
As Kaw-Ma-La was eating a meal in a roadside makeshift hut, made of twigs and branches, a patrol of SPDC troops from IB246 that was heading that way saw him from a distance and opened fire at the hut, killing him on the spot.
When Kaw-Ma-La’s body was brought back to Paang Nim village by the villagers, some SPDC troops from the said patrol came and, saying that they had mistaken Kaw-Ma-La for a Shan soldier, offered 20,000 kyat in compensation. However, the money was hardly enough even to conduct a proper funeral for Kaw-Ma-La, and the villagers had to make up the rest of the costs.
BROTHER AND SISTERS SHOT DEAD IN A GROUP IN MURNG-PAENG
In May 2004, 3 villagers, 1 brother and 2 sisters, who were returning from a farm were shot dead in a group by a patrol of SPDC troops from IB43 near Paang Hok village in Murng Pu Awn village tract, Murng-Paeng township.
The victims, Zaai Zing (m), aged 21, Naang Kham (f), aged 18 and Naang Mu (f), aged 14, were son and daughters of Lung Pan Zing and Pa Zaam of Paang Hok village in Murng Pu Awn village tract, Murng-Paeng township.
On 3 May 2004, Zaai Zing and his sisters went to work at their rice farm some distance from their village and were returning home when they met a patrol of about 30 SPDC troops from IB43, led by commander Myint Hla, on the way.
The SPDC troops shot at the 3 villagers as soon as they saw them without asking any question or giving any warning, killing all of them on the spot, and continued to patrol the area.
2 SISTERS GANG-RAPED IN MURNG-PAENG
In May 2004, 2 sisters working at a rice farm were gang-raped by a patrol of 30 SPDC troops from IB43, until one of the sisters lost consciousness, at a farm near Naa Khaw village in Murng Pu Awn village tract, Murng-Paeng township.
On 4 May 2004, the 2 sisters, Naang Poi (not her real name), aged 16, and Naang Aam (not her real name), aged 21, from Naa Khaw village were working at their rice farm when a patrol of about 30 SPDC troops came into the farm.
The SPDC troops, from IB43, led by commander Myint Hla, the same patrol that had killed 3 innocent villagers the other day in the same village tract, seized the 2 women and gang-raped them in the farm until all the 30 troops were satisfied.
When the SPDC troops left the farm, Naang Aam had to treat her sister, who had lost consciousness while being gang-raped, for a long while until she regained consciousness before they could return to their village which was about 2 miles from their farm.
GANG-RAPE AND TORTURE IN MURNG-PAENG
In June 2004, a man was tortured and his daughter-in-law gang-raped and shot and wounded by SPDC troops from IB43, in their house at Murng Pu Awn village in Murng Pu Awn village tract, Murng-Paeng township.
Lung Awn (m), aged 51, of Murng Pu Awn village was a farmer who loved listening to Shan and Burmese radio programs. Lately he was often seen listening to a China-made small shortwave radio close to his ears, as if he was talking on a mobile phone or a walkie-talkie, during his free time at his house and in his farm.
On 1 June 2004, a group of 30 SPDC troops from IB43, led by commander Saw Naing, came to Lung Awn’s house and asked for a walkie-talkie or a cell phone. When Lung Awn said he did not have any, the troops searched his house.
While searching the house, the SPDC troops interrogated and tortured Lung Awn, forcing him to hand over the walkie-talkie or cell phone. They beat and kicked him, burned his buttocks with candle fire, causing serious wounds that would take a long time to heal, if he survived.
As the SPDC troops were searching the house and torturing Lung Awn, his daughter in law, Non Zing, who lived in the same house said to the troops that since she became his daughter in law about 19-20 years ago, she had never seen Lung Awn have any walkie-talkie or cell phone, but only China-made shortwave radios.
The SPDC troops then dragged Non Zing on to a bed and, saying they would teach her for siding with her father-in-law, gang-raped her. After 6-7 troops had raped her, one of them shot at Non Zing with a pistol. The bullet pierced through one of her thighs but luckily missed the bone.
Even though a man had been tortured close to death and a woman gang-raped and shot at, no one dared to file a complaint with the authorities for fear of further abuses up until the time this report was received in late June.
GANG-RAPE DURING FORCED LABOUR IN MURNG-PAENG
In June 2004, a woman was gang-raped by a patrol of 12 SPDC troops from IB43 while gathering bamboo for the military with her husband in the forest near Naa Khaw village in Murng Pu Awn village tract, Murng-Paeng township.
On 22 June 2004, Zaai In Phom (not his real name), aged 24, and his wife, Naang Seng (not her real name), aged 19, from Naa Khaw village went to gather bamboo in the forest as they were required to provide 500 pieces of split bamboo for the Burmese military.
While the couple was splitting bamboo in the forest, a patrol of 12 SPDC troops from IB43, led by commander Aung Naing Oo, came to them and tied Zaai In Phom up, and gang-raped Naang Seng right in front of her husband.
The SPDC troops gang-raped Naang Seng until all 12 of them had taken their turn. When Naang Seng screamed and struggled, the troops covered her mouth with their hands and grabbed her arms and legs, and continued to rape her until all of them were satisfied.
After they finished raping, the SPDC troops continued their patrol, leaving the couple to themselves in the forest as if they had done nothing to them.
3 WOMEN GANG-RAPED ON THE WAY TO MARKET IN MURNG-KERNG
In April 2004, 3 women who were going to market were raped by a group of SPDC troops from LIB514 on the way between Wan Huay village and Paang Kaetu village in Paang Kaetu village tract, Murng-Kerng township.
On 20 April 2004, Naang Mon, aged 19, Naang Zing, aged 21 and Naang Lern, aged 24 (not their real names), from Wan Huay village were going to the market at Paang Kaetu village when they ran into a group of about 25 SPDC troops from LIB514, led by commander Kyaw Win, who were guarding the road on the way.
The SPDC troops stopped the 3 women and gang-raped them for many hours, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., before they released them. The women immediately returned to their village and related their plight to their relatives and community leaders.
A meeting was then discreetly held among community leaders, village elders and relatives of the victims to discuss the matter. Most of the villagers agreed that lodging a complaint with the authorities would get nowhere, but could even invite more abuses because the SPDC troops would deny the charges and accused the villagers of trying to defame the Burmese military.
The village elders said that the only thing the villagers could do to lessen the chances of rape by the Burmese troops was to avoid going around alone or in a small group of women, but to go in big groups that included several men so that the women would not become easy targets.
VILLAGERS TORTURED AND ROBBED OF THEIR PROPERTY IN KAENG-TUNG
In June 2004, a combined force of SPDC police and people’s militia broke into a civilian house, tortured the owners and robbed them of their money and valuables, in Yaang Wo village in Kaad Fa village tract, Kaeng-Tung township.
In the evening of 8 June 2004, the said SPDC combined force accused Zaai Tui and his wife, Naang Leng, of hiding methamphetamine tablets in their house and broke into it by force and searched the house.
When they did not find any methamphetamine tablets in the house, the police and militiamen arrested Zaai Tui and Naang Leng and tortured them. Naang Leng sustained serious wounds in her forehead and waist that took a long time to cure.
Even though they found no methamphetamine in the house, the police and militiamen took away all the money and valuables they found, worth about 1,900,000 kyat, without telling the owners.
BEATING, INTIMIDATION AND EXTORTION IN MURNG-PAN
Since May 2004, SPDC troops of LIB520 have been beating, intimidating and extorting money from those who received phone calls in Murng-Pan town from their relatives working in Thailand.
The SPDC troops would keep watch around houses in Murng-Pan town that have telephones and track down those who came to receive phone calls from Thailand and follow them back to their houses. At their houses, the troops would ask whether their relatives that had phoned from Thailand were men or women. If they refused to answer, the troops would beat and torture them.
If the relatives in Thailand were men, the SPDC troops would accuse them of being Shan soldiers and if they were women, of being wives of Shan soldiers and 15,000-20,000 kyat of money and upwards would be extorted from those who had received phone calls in Murng-Pan.
If they refused to give the money, the troops would threaten to put them in jail for 3 years for being parents and relatives of Shan soldiers. Around 20 people have already been beaten, intimidated and money extorted in this way at the time of this report.
A MAN BEATEN UNTIL HE LOST HIS MIND IN NAM-ZARNG
In April 2004, a man who was worshiping in a Buddhist temple in Nam-Zarng town was arrested by SPDC troops and police and taken to the police station, where he was severely beaten until he lost his mind and put in jail.
On 4 April 2004, on the eve of the Buddhist water festival, Zaai Leng (m), aged 31, from Kung Niu village in Wan Paeng village tract, Nam-Zarng township, went to Nam-Zarng town to buy things for making merit during the water festival.
As it was also a sabbath day, the full-moon day of the 5th month of the Shan lunar calendar, Zaai Leng went into a temple in the centre of Nam-Zarng town to worship for a moment. While he was lighting candles in front of the altar, a group of SPDC soldiers and police rushed up to him and seized him, accusing him of trying to burn the temple.
It was 9 o’clock in the morning and the man in charge of looking after the temple was also in the temple, and Zaai Leng tried to explain that he was only lighting candles to worship at the altar. But the soldiers and the police did not listen to him.
Zaai Leng was then put on a truck and taken to the police station at the No.4 town quarter and beaten, tortured and locked up in a jail. After hearing the news of his son from his fellow villagers who had returned from Nam-Zang town market, Zaai Leng’s father went to the said police station on the same evening.
Zaai Leng’s father pleaded with the police for the release of his son, explaining that his son had done nothing wrong. Zaai Leng was eventually released, but only after 20,000 kyat of money was extorted from his father by the police.
Zaai Leng sustained serious wounds in his head from the beating, his skull was fractured and his nose broken, which might have severely affected his brain. He has since then become a mentally disturbed person, laughing and crying without knowing what he is doing, who needs to be taken care of by his parents, Lung Ur and Pa E Khawng.
VILLAGE TRACT HEADMAN SEVERELY BEATEN, MONEY EXTORTED, MURNG-PAENG
In April 2004, the village tract headman of Murng Pu Awn village tract in Murng-Paeng township was severely beaten and money was extorted from him by SPDC troops of IB43, in his house at Murng Pu Awn village in Murng Pu Awn village tract, Murng-Paeng township.
According to the local people, the village tract headman of Murng Pu Awn village tract, Lung In Phome, was an innocent man who was always hospitable towards Burmese troops who came to his village, doing his best to cater to their needs and occasionally serving good food for their officers.
However, on 22 April 2004, a patrol of about 45 SPDC troops from IB43, led by commander Tin Nyo Win, came to Lung In Phome’s house and arrested him, accusing him of letting the Shan soldiers keep their arms in his house and searched the house.
While searching the house and not finding any arms, the SPDC troops interrogated the headman, beating and kicking him and forcing him to say where the arms had been hidden. When the headman kept denying any knowledge of the arms, the SPDC troops extorted 200,000 kyat of money from him.
Further more, the SPDC troops ordered the headman to buy 2 viss (1 viss = 1.6 kg) of opium for them in a few days’ time, and if he could not provide the opium by the specified time, another 50,000 kyat of money would be extorted from him.
People who saw him in July said that the headman was still suffering from a severe pain in his spine and could sit only for a short time, and had to lie down most of the time and needed help to be able to move around.
A TRADER BEATEN UNCONSCIOUS AND ROBBED OF HIS MONEY IN MURNG-NAI
In April 2004, a roaming trader who ran errands for SPDC troops of GE #369 (an engineer unit) was beaten unconscious and robbed of his money by a patrol of SPDC troops from LIB576, at a place called Khaai Naa Kong in Ton Hung village tract, Murng-Nai township.
The trader, locally known as Lung Kaang Yoi (bearded uncle), was from Loi-Lem town who roamed the rural areas of neighbouring townships on a mini-tractor selling consumer goods and petty goods such as toys and flying balloons.
He had been in Ton Hung village tract in Murng-Nai township since the beginning of 2004 after agreeing with the SPDC troops of GE #369, who were working on pipe-laying around the power plant project at the Zong Arng waterfall on the Nam Taeng river in Murng-Nai township, to regularly provide food for them.
Every 5 days, Lung Kaang Yoi had to buy consumer goods, including fresh meat, pork, fish, fowl and vegetables, etc., at the market in Ton Hung village and transport them on his mini-tractor to where the SPDC troops were working. He sold the food to them, and made a little profit each time in this way.
On 7 April 2004, as he was returning from selling goods to the said SPDC troops, he met a patrol of about 30 SPDC troops from LIB576 on the way at a place called Khaai Naa Kong who stopped him and questioned him about where he was coming from and going to.
Although Lung Kaang Yoi told them the truth, the SPDC troops said they did not believe him and beat him several times on his legs, back and head with a stick until he fell on the ground and lost consciousness. After some time, when he regained consciousness, Lung Kaang Yoi found that 20,000 kyat of his money had also been stolen by the SPDC troops, who were now nowhere in sight.
Lung Kaang Yoi later lodged a complaint with the military authorities at the base of LIB576 at Pa Saa village in Nawng Hee village tract, Murng-Nai township, who promised to take action against the culprits. However, nothing happened concerning the case up until this report was received in late July 2004.
VILLAGER SEVERELY BEATEN DURING FORCED LABOUR, HIS ARM BROKEN,
In early 2004, a villager who was forced to provide forced labour with a mini-tractor was beaten by SPDC troops from LIB514 so severely that one of his arms was broken, at a place about midway between Murng-Kerng town and Murng Khun village in Murng Khun village tract, Murng-Kerng township.
On 31 January 2004, a group of SPDC troops from LIB514 conscripted a mini-tractor in Murng-Kerng town and forced the owner, Zaai Thun, aged 36, to take them to Murng Khun village in Murng Khun village tract.
There were 17 SPDC troops in the group led by a 2nd Lieutenant and a Sergeant named Myo Chit. After loading all their things on the mini-tractor, Zaai Thun drove off towards Murng Khun with all the 17 SPDC troops on board.
As they reached about midway between Murng-Kerng town and Murng Khun village, the mini-tractor broke down, probably because of the heavy weight of the load. Although Zaai Thun did his best to fix the mini-tractor, and even with the help of some of the SPDC troops, it refused to work.
After some time, some of the SPDC troops became angry and started to scold Zaai Thun, accusing him of deliberately causing his mini-tractor to break down and pretending not to be able to fix it because he did not want to serve the military.
The Sergeant, Myo Chit, then accused Zaai Thun of not driving his mini-tractor properly even before it broke down and kicked him down to the ground, and beat him with a stick all over his body several times, breaking his left arm in the process.
After beating Zaai Thun, the SPDC troops left the mini-tractor and continued their journey on foot. Zaai Thun was left alone wounded near his mini-tractor until his relatives heard about the incident and came to take him home.