DKBA confiscates land, demands money and bamboo quota for Karen New Year celebration

December 4, 2008

HURFOM:The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) is confiscating land, levying extraordinarily high taxes and forcing villagers to collect bamboo in preparation for an upcoming Karen New Year celebration, say sources in Kawkerik District, Myawaddy Township, Karen State.

On November 27th, DKBA Battalion No. 907 led by major Saw Leh Aye confiscated two corn farms from farmers in Lay Woe village. The two farms are forty-five and twenty acres, worth 2.5 and 2 million Thai baht respectively. According to a close friend of one of the farmers, the farms are to be used as the site for the celebration and the farmers will not be compensated for their loss.

Major Saw Leh Aye also demanded residents of eight villages in the area collect two thousand bamboo poles, each at least twenty-five feet long. All the bamboo must be delivered to the site of the celebration. Ever household must also “donate” one thousand baht. All the affected villages are near the Thai-Burma border, and include Lay Woe, Thaung Oak, Aye Leh, Htu, Palaw Hta, Thit Baw Poe, Khao Poe Khee, Ma Oho Kho, Oho Ka Lay Kha and Moe Kahta.

“Many household in my village cannot provide the money they [the DKBA] demands because their income is so low,” a resident of Ho Ka Lay Kha village told HURFOM. “I have not enough money to save anything, because our life here is hand to mouth. But we have to pay. Many households in our village are having to take out loans and others simply cannot pay at all.”

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