Movement Restriction and Abuses behind the Pro-government Rallies in Mon State
October 31, 2007
I. Crackdown on the Peaceful Protests
In Burma, in the second half of September an uprising demanding the reduction of commodity prices, as the government had dramatically increased the price of fuel. The demonstrations spread throughout the whole of
The SPDC responded violently to these peaceful demonstrations with armed forces, and made no attempt to solve the problems of commodity prices or work with the civilians. Due to their strength, combined with the strength of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), there were between 200 and 300 protestors killed estimated by oppositions and diplomats in
At the end of September a peaceful saffron revolution led by Buddhist Monks built great momentum in
Since the early of protests, HURFOM human rights workers based in
II. Abuses occurring behind the rallies in each Township
Rallies to support the SPDC’s National Convention held in many different cities across
“These rallies were held to cover the retaliatory actions of the government following the peaceful demonstrations in September. They were pursuing violent crackdowns, so held rallies to appease the United Nations envoy, Mr. Gambari, who was here to assist
However, there were many different sorts of human rights abuses occurring behind the rallies. Human rights reporters have been able to collect news about the abuses during rallies on the 6th October in Mon state.
The details of story are:
“The chairman of the Mon State Peace and Development Council was instructed to organize the rally as quickly as possible, and then supervise it. The District Peace and Development Council (DPDC), Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC), and Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) were ordered to hold the so-called People’s Rally in line with the instructions from the GAD. The relevant authorities directly instructed USDA’s organizers, members of the fire station and Women’s Affairs Groups to organize participants in cities, townships and villages. There are approximately 100,000 participants who joined the People’s Rally,” stated a member of the GAD who asked to stay anonymous for security reasons.
A former teacher in a government school, U Aye Naing, said that every Quarter Head in
An education staff, Ma Thet Thet (not their real name), said that U Min Ye Htun, executive officer of the GAD, had glued the statement in the Quarter Peace and Development Office in Myine-Tar-Yar where she lived. USDA’s organizer in Pack-Khin quarter, U Aye Myint, also held a meeting to organize the participants.
“One person from each house had to attend without fail and ideally more than one would attend. If anyone cannot attend they were required to pay the 20,000 Kyat fine before the rally or accept they will be blacklisted. I think they were pushing us and threatening us until we had no choice but to attend the rally,” said Ko Naing who lived in Pack-Khin quarter.
A HURFOM reporter said that in every quarter the authorities and their followers, including USDA members and the People’s Forces, were preparing for the ‘People’s Rally’ in
“They were writing about opposing the National League of Democracy (NLD), opposing any international broadcasting and supporting the policies which are the result of National Convention. I think they were from the USDA because they were not staff from our office,” said a GAD staff.
The riot police, military members and uniformed police have been closely monitoring the highway bus station, Bo-Kone quarter where the government offices are situated and other locations like monasteries, shopping strips, railway stations.
The details of story are:
“Government staff, teachers and students were given a compulsory order to attend the rally. If students from tenth standard do not attend the rally, the application form to apply for taking their final exams will be not available for them,” said one student’s parent.
A villager from Sein-taung village, in Kamawet village tract said, “We did not want to join their rally at all because we know they killed a lot of innocent people and were forcing us to ‘support’ them. However, we had to join otherwise they would impose a fine on us.”
“Nai Tun Tun, Secretary of the Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) and USDA’s chairman ordered us to attend the rally. He told us that anyone who did not attend would be added to the ‘black-list’ and punished later,” said Mxx Ox, a Htaung-Kay villager. He added, “One villager called Aung Naing is a USDA organizer, who took on the responsibility of organizing people. He collected 2500 Kyat from each person who failed to attend the rally and hired other people to replace them. However, just 50 people actually attended the rally. As for me, I just gave them the 2500 Kyat to avoid having to join their rally.”
A USDA organizer from Gon-Nyin-Than called U Aye Maung (40 years old), ordered that one to two members from each house had to attend the rally. Most villagers in this area work in rubber plantations for their livelihood. They had to leave their daily work in order to attend the rally because they were afraid of punishment, and could not afford the fine the authorities imposed for not attending. Therefore they had to join the rally, holding the sign-boards they were given and listening to what was said. But the villagers had to make all of their own travel arrangement.
Ye Township: Similarly, in Ye Township, the southern part of
The detail of story is:
According to Nai Min Tun (not his real name), 45, who lives at Aung Myitta quarter, the SPDC’s township administration groups are taking money from Ye township residents who were absent from the rally which was held on October 24.
The orders from villages and quarters level administration groups mentioned that all households in each quarters from Ye Township have to attend the rally, according to reporter. “Officials in the quarters in Aung Myitta, Ye said they are taking four bags of cement from each house hold that refuses to go to the rally,” an unnamed source in Ye township,
The Ye Township authorities also ordered each village to send their participants at least 100 villagers per village. Most villagers are not willing to join the government’s rally. Some villagers who did not want to participate also required to pay 3,000 to 4,000 Kyat per households in Kyaung-ywa village, reported by a villager. In Andin village, the villagers paid 3,000 Kyat per household while some village paid 1,500 Kyat. Fines are different from one village to another, it was depending on the decisions of village heads.
The rally to denounce the monk-led protests was held in the precincts of a pagoda at the center of Ye Town. The authorities told rally participants to leave their homes around 5:30 a.m. ”The pagoda ground is used for festivals such as rice donation to give alms to the monks by residents,” the source said. However the authorities banned the donation festival and held the rally at the ground.
The authorities took signatures and the names of the people before they went to the rally. The people who refused to attend the rally paid fine to the authorities.
The details of story are:
“They held the rally in a play ground in Thanpyuzayat town,” a resident said. Poor villagers attended the rally because they could not afford to pay the fine. “Yesterday villagers did not shout the slogan that authorities told them to. Only pro-junta people shouted slogans. Others just walked in the rally,” said a resident.
A majority of the people said they would rather pay the fines than joining in the rally because they do not support the regime’s brutal crackdown on monks. Some villagers said they would not go to denounce the Buddhist monks even if the authorities’ fine them 1000 Kyat per household.
III. Movement Restriction in
Since the beginning of protests in 3rd week of September, Mon State PDC authorities deployed more police force, soldiers in many check-points in the entrance of towns and cities in
On the 22nd September 2007, travelers were rigorously checked by SPDC military forces, riot police, regular police and militia at the Ya-khaing-gone check-point, right outside
“They checked my paper bag and asked me to show my Identity Card. They also asked me to unfold the calendar which I bought from the town. I think they suspected that it was a letter motivating people to demonstrate. They also warned us to stay quiet, mind our own business and stay away from political activities. Otherwise, we would be put into jail. They did not give my calendar back after checking it and I did not ask them for it because I was afraid of problems occurring,” she added.
In September, the momentum of demonstrations was high in the whole of
“We have to inform the Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) who will go where and why they need to travel,” said a Ka-Mar-Wat villager, Ma Hla Myo, 32 years old.
He added, “A Ka-Mar-Wat village head and the leaders of USDA declared that every villager must inform them of any travel plans. We have to tell them all the facts including where we will go and how long the journey will take. Now the villagers dare not go anywhere unless it is absolutely necessary. They now travel only when they have to send a patient to the hospital in town.”
There were riot police, militia and the regular police force in railway stations, bus stations, harbours and ferry sites in
“Now they are forming militia forces in villages. These orders came directly from the township level. The trainers from the military instruct the militia forces in fighting, shooting and breaking down the masses. Within the militia forces, they choose people who are Mon who have authority and power among the local people. They appoint these people after confirmation of their background,” said Nai Ba Myint, 40 years old, who lives in Paing-kamar village,
If the strikes continue in
“They especially monitor the monasteries in
A member of the Mon Liaison Office in
“After the NMSP declared their statement of support for the monks and protesters in the strike we are feeling under great pressure. They often come around our offices, especially the Mon Liaison Office and the Mon Commercial Office. One army truck and a motorbike purposely came and stopped in front of the office and watched our activities. I think these people are probably local USDA members. This took place a day or two before the protesting happened in
Before the SPDC closely observed the NMSP offices, they carried out many cases of human rights abuses in Ye Township,
“Now the villagers in Yin-Ye, Yin-Dain and Ka-Loh village, near Kaw-Zar village, have been ordered to inform the military whenever they leave and come back to the village. Strangers are not allowed to come into the village. LIB No. (31) also ordered the senior monks not to go anywhere,” said a Kaw-Zar villager, Nai Chae, 55 years old.
A Yin-Dain villager, a teacher of
“The purpose of these restrictions is to prevent the demonstrations from spreading into these areas. If the demonstrations happen in these areas, it would be very hard to control because they are black areas and the authorities are afraid of splinter groups,” said Nai Chan Ong, a teacher, in a phone interview.
In late September commodity prices increased, and insufficient goods and the flow of trade in southern Mon state also occurred due to the restrictions imposed by local authorities who were worried about the spread of demonstrations.
Ma Myint May (not her real name), 35 years old and the mother of four children, told a HURFOM field reporter, “There are not enough goods available in
Some greengrocers said that trading of local products from one place to another had been stopped due to imposed movement restrictions. Local people and consumers have not been able to obtain commodities and are unable to trade local products because the fish and prawns they usually send to Ye Township could not be transported any more.
“The movement restrictions were not only in place in response to the uprising. As they are black areas, Junta have been oppressing the people in these areas for years. Villagers were not allowed to go outside the village or sleep in their plantations and gardens. They always have to inform authorities wherever they go and they often have to pay for permission to move around. Because of the recent monk-led uprising the restriction of movement in these black areas increased greatly. Many youth in our areas fled to foreign countries due to the effects of these restrictions; they had no freedom to move around,” said a Ayu-taung village (in Ye Township) head, 50 years old.
According to news photos collected by HURFOM the Battalions under the command of MOMC No. 19, instructed their Battalion Commander, Division Commander and soldiers to take action when momentum for the uprising was high.
According to one villager, who was close to the Light Infantry Battalion LIB No. 587, in Ayu-taung village-Ye Township, the Battalion commander called the local authorities and the people’s forces to the emergency meeting everyday from the second week in September until the end of the month.
“In these meetings, he instructed the participants to control the strikes in the area, to take action if a strike occurred and to check on military members. He also instructed the village heads to submit their monthly report to the Battalion commander,” reported a HURFOM field reporter who also collected photos.
IV. Aggressive Activities of Regime Supporters
Near Moulmein and nearby area
The local people complained that many check-points were set up along the outbound routes in Mon State after the 25th September when the monk-led uprising took place in Moulmein city, Mon State.
According to one HURFOM reporter from
“Recently, the SPDC set up many checkpoints, especially, in Zar-tha-pyin,
Likewise at the entrance check-points, especially in
According to one monk, a protester, a member from the administration department of
“We received some news that they were arresting people but we could not confirm who was arrested and which quarters they were from. Some people estimated they were arresting NLD members in rural areas,” said a human rights observer based in
The Burmese authorities have increased their checks and restrictions in
A driver of a Yamanya Motor Association said, “If we leave from
According to Nai Lone (an alias), a 28 year old from Mudon Township, there was another gate which was set up by military intelligence, Special Police Branch and authorities form Ministry of Immigration and Population at the edge of Gyone-gyone-kya Forest Monastry road near Mudon town. They examined the passengers, asked them to show their Identity Cards and recorded the passengers’ biography.
“In my view, the purpose of the authorities examining everyone this way is that they are investigating people who flee from other places trying to avoid being arrested. For example, the authorities ask everybody whose ID cards show that he or she is from
The monks from
“On the 26th of September, Mon monks in Kyike-Ma-Yaw monasteries and monks from other villages took part in the demonstration in
He added, “before and after the uprising, the USDA members, people’s forces and militia from three administrative units (Ywa-lut; Mu-doon and Mu-yit) received fighting training, advocacy training and training in how to effectively spread propaganda. The Chairman of TPDC- U Khin Maung Myint, made a display of authority when he stated that demonstrations would not go ahead in his area”.
Crackdown on dissidents in Mon state Started from October 30, 2007, SPDC authorities in the
“A shop in the new bus station called ‘New-ze-gyo’ has already been investigated. The shop was closed after the questioning,” the customers said.
Government backed organizations such as USDA and People Power Association are helping the authorities to find the leaders of protesters. The search is being done secretly by the authorities and many monks have left their monasteries. But I don’t how many monks were arrested, an abbot said.
Currently authorities are searching for the photographer who took pictures and video clips of the protests in
There was a river route in
“Military intelligence force, Special Polce Branch, Militia, Ministry of Immigration and Population and USDA members strictly checked all the cars and buses entering or leaving the town, and checked the passengers one by one whether they were local villagers or not. If someone was without an ID card, they detained him or her and didn’t allow that person to continue his or her journey. They asked many questions to strangers,” said a local Karen man.
There was a checkpoint at the edge of the
“Before, soldiers from the naval forces asked the owners of ferries just for sea-route and security taxes. Now, they also check ID cards and ask us why we’re going to Three-Pagodas. The changes began after the protests,” said a witness who works as an oil trader from Chaung-htit-kwa.
The SPDC regime have been barricading and checking villages which lie along the way to Three-Pagodas from Kya-inn-seikyi, such as Mae-za-lee, Ah-nan-gwin (Wae-naing in Mon), Apalone and Mae-ta-bwe. Extra attention has been given to the ferry landings around Mae-za-lee and Apalone. “Col. Win Htay, from Military Column No. 2 under Central Command of Southeast Command, led a column checking passengers’ biographies, ID cards and their reasons for traveling,” said a young motorboat driver who drives from Mae-zar-lee to Apalone.
“The soldiers, who are led by the Commander- Aye Chan from the Light Infantry Battalion LIB No. 51, which is set up in Three-Pagodas, are checking the passengers at the motorboat landing. They not only check all bags but also take any food they find in the bags without permission from the owners. However, nobody dare to question them. In this place there are other groups, such as the New Mon State Part (NMSP), Haung-Ta-Yaw ceasefire group and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) but they don’t respond to these Burmese soldiers for us,” said Ma Hla Hla Win, a passenger from Ya-lae village.
In conclusion, political experts have analyzed the situation and concluded that the main purpose of the authorities placing great restrictions on movement, barricading the gates and prohibiting civilian trading is due to the September monk-led uprising. After they violently cracked down on the masses, the junta has continued to arrest monks and protesters, with the accusation of participating in the demonstration, accomplishing the uprising and protesting against the outcomes of the National Convention in several places including Rangoon, Mandalay and other cities including in Moulmein.
Due to forcible recruitment to rallies to support National Convention and accompanied movement restriction and political oppressions, there are some stresses among populace and negative in economic situation as below:
Many government servants, including teachers, who refused to attend Rallies, are forced to express their reasons for not attending rallies and some of them will face to dismiss from works.
Some IT professional services like Internet shops, photo developing shops are threatened to shut down and stop their businesses.
Buddhist monks are totally restricted in their travels and in some areas, the ferries are instructed to not receive any monks in their service.
Due to movement restriction, trading in