Mu Traw District Short Update: The destruction of old ordnance by the Tatmadaw results in UXO contamination in Bu Tho Township, December 2020

Situation Report
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This Short Update describes events that occurred in Bu Tho Township, Mu Traw District in December 2020 and January 2021. On December 29th 2020, the Tatmadaw[1] destroyed old ordnance on land belonging to a local farmer without his consent, resulting in UXO [unexploded ordnance] contamination. Although the land owner asked the soldiers to clear the area of UXO, they did not do so until late January 2021.[2]

On December 19th 2020, the Tatmadaw Maintenance Unit #642 under Hpapun Operations Command destroyed old ordnance [by detonating it] right beside a local villager’s paddy field in H--- village, Meh Klaw village tract,[3] Bu Tho Township, Mu Traw District. The land owner is Saw L---.[4] According to him, the Tatmadaw had already destroyed old ordnance on his land in January 2020.

The Tatmadaw did not inform Saw L--- in advance nor ask for his permission to destroy the ordnance on his land. On the day of the incident, the owner begged the soldiers not to destroy the ordnance on his paddy field, but outside of it. A Tatmadaw soldier replied that since nearby areas are bushy, they would do it beside the farm. However, they ultimately detonated the ordnance right beside the paddy field’s embankment, less than one foot [30 cm] away from the farm.

Saw L--- then told the Tatmadaw soldiers to take away or destroy all the pieces of ordnance that had not exploded [but they did not do it immediately]. They left behind unexploded mortar shells, RPG-7 [40 mm rockets] and other pieces of ordnance. Saw L--- was therefore concerned for his security because of the presence of [unexploded] ordnance on his land. According to an update provided by a KHRG researcher on February 24th 2021, the Tatmadaw eventually cleared the area of unexploded ordnance in late January 2021.