Hpapun Situation Update: Militarisation, extortion and gold mining activities harming villagers in Dwe Lo Township, June to July 2019
Between June and July 2019, the Tatmadaw increased its activity in Dwe Lo Township, including troop rotations and the transport of rations and weapons. Tatmadaw Infantry Battalion #96 also took villager’s property, crops, and livestock without compensation while stationed at the Kay Koh army camp. The Chinese Ho Chan Company has also been carrying out gold mining in Bu Lo Klo Traw, Ma Lay Ler, and Mae Way village tracts since 2018. Mining activities have had negative impacts on the villagers’ lands, livestock and the natural environment, leading to concerns among the local population.
Militarisation and extortion by the Tatmadaw
June and July 2019 have seen an increase in militarisation by the Tatmadaw compared to the previous three months. In June 2019, troop rotations occurred in Kay Koh village, Ma Lay Ler village tract, Dwe Lo Township, where the Tatmadaw Infantry Battalion (IB) #96 is stationed at the Kay Koh army camp. Zay Ya Thun is the commander of the battalion and current head of the army camp. Villagers reported that the IB transported rations and weapons to the camp, and occasionally asked for their help in transporting them with their trucks.
While stationed there, Tatmadaw soldiers took the villagers’ property, crops, and livestock without compensating them. They cut the villagers’ palm leaves, wood, bamboo, and chili plants. The soldiers also killed and ate three of the villagers’ pigs that wandered into the army camp without informing the owners.
Raw material taken from villagers was used to reinforce and expand the Kay Koh army camp. Villagers who experienced this first hand said: “Tatmadaw soldiers get their salaries so why don’t they buy it [crops, raw material, and livestock] from villagers?” Some villagers reported the incidents to the Karen National Union (KNU) village tract and Township authorities, but no action has been taken.