This Short Update describes how a Tatmadaw Lieutenant extorted money from a female villager and provides information on poorly-built houses in a housing project for repatriated refugees and returned IDPs in L--- village, Su K’Lee village tract, Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District. It covers the period between May 20th and June 30th 2019.
1. Extortion by a Tatmadaw Lieutenant
On June 17th 2019 at 10:00 AM, Lieutenant Saw Tun Naing from Infantry Battalion #57, Th'Waw Thaw military camp, went to L--- village, Su K'Lee village tract, Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District where he rode around on his motorbike while shouting at villagers. While drunk, Saw Tun Naing went into the house of Naw O---, one of the villagers, woke her up, and asked her to give him 3,000 baht (USD 99.40 as of November 20th 2019). She handed the money over to him as she was afraid. He promised to return the money after one or two days but has not done so to date. Naw O--- would have been able to sustain her family for three months with the amount of money that he extorted.
Naw H---, a village elder from L--- village went to the Tatmadaw camp to inform the Company Commander of the incident when she heard about it. He told her that he will take action on the Lieutenant as he made a mistake. The Commander promised to return the money to Naw O---early the following month. However, the Battalion has moved away from that camp since then and the victim remains uncompensated to date.
2. Shortcomings of a housing project for refugees and IDPs
A housing project for repatriated refugees and returned IDPs, which is supported by the Nippon Foundation, commenced in 2017 in the same village as above. The project was implemented by Kabar Shwe Nann Company Limited and Min Zar Ni Company Limited, and led by the companies’ managers Maung Shwe Lin and Ye Tun Lin, who are retired Tatmadaw Battalion Commander and Tactical Operations Commander, respectively. Out of 300 houses constructed, only 100 houses are reported to be of good quality; the others were not built in a solid manner. Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Company #2 Commander Bo W---, the person in charge of monitoring the project, raised this issue with those responsible for the housing project, who promised to conduct an assessment on the houses’ quality and make improvements as necessary. The promise was not kept; they handed the keys of the houses to the village head after completion of the project and subsequently left.
The Nippon Foundation paid the companies 14,500,000 kyats (USD 9,567.11 as of November 20th 2019) for each house built, which were provided without charge to repatriated refugees and returned IDPs. No water supply has been provided at the houses yet. According to Bo Y---, a local KNLA military intelligence commander from Battalion #103, only 60 households of IDPs from the nearby villages of E---, A---, P--- and N--- had moved into the houses in the project at the time of reporting.