Inside News_April 2012

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Inside News_April 2012 Powered By Docstoc
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   Inside News
  Volume 6              Issue 1                                 April   2012

Now for the hard part

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                            BURMA - Boom or Bust?
                            Natural resource rich, Burma, is been talked up as the region’s next big investment
                            boom. The military dominated government encourages the hype, as it is desperate
                            for international sanctions to be lifted and for foreign investment money to bolster its
                            development plans. Meanwhile, as investors, non-government organizations and others
                            with a vested interest, jockey to get in on Southeast Asia’s next big thing, an estimated
                            500,000 displaced people in southeast Burma say without legal protection they worry
                            what the future holds.
                            The easing of international sanctions on the Burma government has excited investors
       CIDKP                and developers. The potential to get it badly wrong is massive. The country has
                            vague laws - a flawed constitution, is still the world’s number one narco-state, has
                            as many as 500,000 displaced people in southeast Burma and 145,000 refugees in
       P.O Box 22           camps in Thailand.
      Maesot 63110          There are signs Burma’s authoritarian government is inching its way towards change.
      Tak, Thailand         To date it has released hundreds, but not all political prisoners, eased censorship and
                            lifted some restrictions on the media, amended electoral laws to allow Aung San Suu
                            Kyi and her National League for Democracy to contest and win parliamentary seats
                            and has started ceasefire talks with most of the country’s ethnic armed groups.
          Central           In exchange for doing this the Burma government is confident Western governments
Phone:(66) 055 531330
                            will remove international sanctions and investment dollars will begin to flow into the
Fax: (66) 055531330         country.
                            Without a legal system that can deal with the issue of the land rights of the displaced       people and the refugees there is huge potential to punish these people further.
                            Developments planned for Karen State could also trigger conflict. Areas of concern
                            are the planned hydro-power dams on the Salween River, large areas of farmland
                            ‘sold’ or confiscated from villagers in Karen State, displaced people and from
         Northern           refugees.
                            Many of the international and regional in the extraction industry are looking to Burma.
Phone:(66) 053681854
                            Other have already secured land or exploration blocks, countries such as Thailand,
Fax: (66) 053 681854       China, Malaysia, South Korea, France, Japan have already started to look at extracting
                            oil or gas. Environmentalist warn that unplanned development projects without carefully
                            conducted environmental, social and conflict impact assessments are critical and
         Southern           should be carried out before projects are started.
                            But not all regional politicians agree lifting sanctions is a valid solution. The ASEAN
        P.O. Box 11         Inter Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) welcomes signs of Burma’s political
    Kanchanaburi 71000      reforms, but warned that removing sanctions could threaten the reform process.
          Thailand          “Myanmar lacks the laws and infrastructure to cope with the consequences of an
                            influx of foreign investment. The negative experience of sizeable investment from
Phone:(66) 034517213
                            China and other neighbours in Myanmar over recent years testifies to the social,
Fax: (66) 034 517213     environment, political and economic impacts that come with foreign investment and
                            large-scale development projects,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, Indonesian MP and
                            President of AIPMC.
     Writing and editing;
    BLEEDIN' HEART MEDIA,   The President of AIPMC is right, until the Burma government puts in place a
     and CIDKP Reporters.   constitution and legislation that will protect its citizens it is still business as usual.

    Design: Eh Thwee Taw
        and Blacktown                  MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
                               If you want to find out how you can help internally dis-
                               placed Karen people: or write to
                               CIDKP, PO Box 22, Mae Sot, Tak 63110, Thailand.
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KNU and Burmese government reached historic agreement

The Karen National Union and the                                              and rehabilitate internally
Burma Government delegations                                                  displaced people, de-mining,
achieved 13 common positions in
                                       Over sixty years of armed              resettlement of refugees,
formalizing an initial historic         conflict, KNU and Burma               citizenship accreditation,
ceasefire agreement between the                                               implement a rule of law and
two sides at their ‘peace talks’
                                      government finally reached a            working together towards
held on April 6, at the Sedona            ceasefire agreement                 “sustainable development”, land
Hotel in Rangoon, Burma.                                                      right issues, the participation in the
After one day of negotiations, both   conduct” to guarantee security for      peace building process of INGOs
sides agreed to adopt the principal   the people.                             and local NGOs and the release
of “progressive realization” and      Both sides agreed to implement          of all Karen political prisoners.
work towards a nationwide             peace-building groups at a              The       13-member            KNU
ceasefire, especially in the          District, Township and Village          delegations was led by the KNU’s
country’s ethnic regions.             track levels. Both side decide to       general secretary, Naw Zipporah
The agreed on 13 decisions            found local “cease-fire monitory        Sein, and the 12-member Burma
reached by the two sides were         group” the end of May. It was also      government delegation was led by
read out and presented to a large     agreed to allow, “international         the Minister for Rail
crowd of waiting media.               monitoring” when the cease-fire         Transportation, U Aung Min.
The KNU and Burma government          progresses further.                     International observers and Karen
said they had discussed, agreed       Some of the other decisions             leaders also allow to observe the
and prepared a “ceasefire code of     reached included plans to resettle      negotiation process.
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    Karen displaced villagers -
As many as 200 internally          delegation did not make it to           government and we hope it
displaced Karen villagers          Mu The village and the                  will lead us to lasting peace
came from the jungles of Keh       displaced villagers returned to         where we can go back to our
Der area in Kyaukgyi               their hiding places in the              home land and rebuild our
Township to walk two and half      jungle without seeing their             lives in our own village.”
hours to Mu The village to         leaders.                                Although Naw Paw Law hopes
welcome and listen to the          Yet despite the setback, the            for the best, she still
Karen National Union’s peace       villagers’ hopes for peace              remembers the bad times and
talk delegation.                   remain strong.                          says the civil war had torn
The KNU peace talk                 Auntie Naw Paw Law, who                 apart her family and had taken
delegation led by its General      went down to Mu The village             away everything she valued.
Secretary Naw Zipporah Sein        to hear and see the KNU                 “Since we were kids, we have
opened a liaison office in         leaders said she came from              been running from Burma
Kyaukgyi Town and then             Keh Der village. She said she           army attacks all the time. The
planned to visited Mu The          is grateful knowing that the            Burma Army had killed my
village to meet with Karen         KNU are working towards                 brother and my nephew, my
civilians in the area, including   peace.                                  father starved to death in the
the Karen IDP villagers from       “We are very happy to hear that         jungle as we were running, all
Keh Der area.                      our leaders [KNU] had peace             my belongings were destroyed
Unfortunately, the KNU             talks with the Burma                    – houses burned, animals were
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killed or looted and we had to             Photo:KIC
                                           “We were aware that our   “If the ceasefire stops the
leave behind our farms,                    leaders had ceasefire talks
                                                                     Burma army attacks, stop our
plantations and land. Now, we              with Burma government and running from Burma army,
have nothing left.”                        this year, the Burma Army allow us to go back to our
Naw Paw Law said that if                   didn’t come and attack in our
                                                                     village, allow us to work
there’s fighting, it hard for              area. We earn our daily living
                                                                     freely, allow us to travel freely
people to earn a living.                   by going out for daily labor or
                                                                     and free us from the fear of
“Before [the ceasefire talks],             foraging and do small trades
                                                                     Burma army, it would be good
we were always in fear when                with other villages. With the
                                                                     enough for us.”
we go to work. If we didn’t                ceasefire in place, we canFinally, Naw Paw Law said that
dare go out for work, we                   travel more freely and we have
                                                                     she wants to live the rest of
barely had food to survive on              much less fear of the Burma
                                                                     her life in lasting peace.
a daily basis. On top of that,             Army.”                    “We hope that all our leaders’
almost every year, there was a             Naw Paw Law defined       works will be successful and
Burma Army offensive in our                ceasefire meaning that shewill lead to a lasting peace.
area and we had to run from                said would be good for people
                                                                     We want to have freedom in
place to place. So, we have                like her.                 our work and freedom in our
never felt happiness or seen                                         movement. We don’t want to
peace in our lifetime.”                      "..we have never be hiding in jungle or live in a
Naw Paw Law said that the                    felt happiness war environment where we are
ceasefire talk has stopped the                        Burmese in
                                             or seen peace refugee taking temporary shelterkilled. We
                                                                     hunted down and in Thailand
Burma Army attacks in their                  our lifetime."          want lasting peace.”

                             - hope for peace
Karen villagers welcoming KNU peacetalks
delegation at Kyaukgyi Town

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UN Security Council R 1325 –
    Karen women have to be part of the peace process


Ms K’nyaw Paw an executive            Ms K’nyaw Paw points to the             response and in post-conflict
member of the Karen Women’s           United Nations Security Council         reconstruction and stresses the
Organization and Presidium            Resolution 1325 that stresses the       importance of their equal
Board Member of Women’s               inclusion of women in peace talks.      participation and full involvement
League of Burma said that is          A United Nations website – http:/       in all efforts for the maintenance
crucial that women are an integral    /           and promotion of peace and
part of the on-going peace            wps/ – highlights the importance        security.”
negotiations with the Burma           of including women in the               Ms K’nyaw Paw said that the
government and the Karen              resolution of conflicts and peace       KNU has to negotiate with the
National Union.                       negotiations.                           Burma government’s delegation to
“It is important that women are       “The Security Council adopted           include        Karen         women
represented during the peace talks    resolution (S/RES/1325) on              representation at the talks.
and that are part of the peace        women and peace and security on         “We have requested the KNU to
process with the Burma                31 October 2000. The resolution         include the KWO or women
government. We feature in every       reaffirms the important role of         representatives at the next round
corner of our society, so why not     women in the prevention and             of peace negotiations and they
in the peace talks. Our role needs    resolution of conflicts, peace          [KNU] agree women need to be
 DKBA soldiers from Brigade 5
to be officially recognised and our   negotiations, peace-building,
                                                              Photo:KIC       involved, but we are still waiting
voices heard.”                        peacekeeping, humanitarian                             Continnue to next page...
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to have our presence at the talks        of sexual abuse, in situations of          Burma government and the ethnic
confirmed by the KNU.”                   armed conflict.”                           armies, however, “none of them
Ms K’nyaw Paw said the Karen             The Global Justice Center, states          have ensured the inclusion of
Women’s Organisation had                 on its website – http://                   women. Security Council
formed a peace committee, in                  Resolution 1325 requires that
accordance with the United               projects/burma/1325.html – that            “when negotiating and
Nations Security Council                 the “United Nations Security               implementing peace agreements,
Recommendation 1325, to ensure           Council Resolution 1325 on                 [all parties] adopt a gender
women are represented during the         women, peace and security                  perspective.”
peace process with the Burma             applies to all aspects of the current      The KWO’s Ms K’nyaw Paw
Government.                              situation in Burma, both the SPDC          said it was a positive sign that the
The UNSC Resolution 1325                 [government] as well as to the             Karen Women’s Organisation had
“urges all actors to increase the        groups working to return                   received support from women’s
participation of women and               democracy to Burma.”                       groups inside Burma for their
incorporate gender perspectives in       The Global Justice Center is a             stance of being included in the
all United Nations peace and             human rights legal organization that       peace talk negotiations.
security efforts. It also calls on all   “develops innovative strategies to         “It is encouraging to have women’s
parties to conflict to take special      enforce international law.”                groups with links to the Burma
measures to protect women and            The Global Justice Center notes            government support our position
girls from gender-based violence,        that to date there have been many          and calling for our inclusion in the
particularly rape and other forms        ceasefire agreements between the           negotiations.” Karen News


                                                                      Burmese refugee fleeing fighting to Thailand
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                                                                                MOTHER’S PLEA                       :

                                                                                 After a
                                                                                 life of
                                                                                we want
Htee Ler Baw Hta sits on the           law and an old lady stayed to help       we could scavenge on the way.
bamboo floor of one of the 700         me give birth.’’                         We left on Sept 28 and arrived at
small huts of the refugee camp and     Htee Ler Baw Hta says the nights         Ei Tu Hta 10 days later.’’
says she has been running from the     were cold and without blankets or        Htee Ler Baw Hta gently rubs the
Burma army for 37 of her 49            fire it was a tough place to be          arms of her youngest child and
years.                                 pregnant. She gave birth in the          says she was born in Ei Tu Hta.
‘’I was only 12 when I started         open jungle without bed, floor mat       ‘’We had a ceasefire in 2004 and
running. I remember I was in           or shelter.                              2005, but still we had to run. I
school the first time I had to run.    ‘’I silently cried and cried. We         don’t know if it will be any different
One year later we ran again. I’ve      couldn’t use torches or light fires.     now, but I hope this time it works.
run so many times I cannot count,’’    After the birth I needed hot water       I want to go home. I’ve had
Htee Ler Baw Hta says without          to wash, but we dared not start a        enough of living like this. I want to
fuss.                                  fire, the soldiers would see it. It      go back to where I was born.’’
She puts on a brave face and           was January, the cold season, and        Htee Ler Baw Hta’s memories of
manages to fix dinner and trim her     the water from the stream was            running from the Burma army are
daughter’s nails as she tells of the   freezing.’’                              spiked with good humour until she
losses she and her family have had     The last time Htee Ler Baw Hta           starts to talk about her children.
to endure because of the constant      had to run from the Burma army           She wants justice as a part of any
running from the Burma army            was in 2006, and it came on the          peace deal.
soldiers in the harsh jungle and on    back of a ceasefire agreement the        ‘’I can’t forgive the Burma army.
the mountains of Karen state.          Karen had made with the former           I lost my son because of living like
‘’In 1998 I was pregnant with my       military regime.                         this. He had a fever and diarrhea.
daughter, we were running and          ‘’I now had five kids, and               I want the Burma army to face up
hiding in the jungle. I had to stop.   travelling with them was difficult.      to what they did to us. I want them
I just couldn’t keep walking, I        We could only walk at night. Most        brought to law. We lost everything,
couldn’t keep up with the others.      of the time we couldn’t cook and         our homes, our land and our
Soldiers were on two sides.            when we could we had to do it            education because of them. Our
‘’My water broke. The others had       before dawn. We had little food          children have nothing living like
to keep going, but my brother-in-      with us and had to rely on what          this.’’        IDP in Karen state
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In spite of ceasefire agreements,
Htee Ler Baw Hta says she and
her children are prepared to run.
                                          'One in five children will die'
‘’Even now the Burma army is just       Naw Delay, a former teacher and                 ‘’My kid was sick when we lived
an hour’s walk from here. We            mother of six children, now works               in the jungle. He died on May 16,
always have three days worth of         as a volunteer with the Karen                   2006. It’s easy for me to
food prepared. We’ve built              Women’s Orgnisation in the                      remember. He had fever. We had
bunkers under our houses, I don’t       camp.                                           no way to know what was wrong.
want my children hurt.’’                Naw Delay says she and her family               We had no medicine. I nursed him
To add proof to her words, Htee         came to Ei Tu Hta in 2007 from                  for three days, then he died. I will
Ler Baw Hta, insists I look and         her village of Saw Mu Plan after                never know what killed him.’’
photograph the bunker under the         the Burma army attacked it.                     According to a health report,
house, covered with bamboo and          ‘’Many villagers were killed _ we               ‘’Chronic Emergency’’, by the
dirt.                                   decided it was too dangerous to                 Backpack Health Workers Team,
Back inside her bamboo house,           stay, so we ran. It took us one                 the situation in eastern Burma is
the dry season heat is stifling. Htee   week to get here _ we had to                    dire _ one in five children will die
Ler Baw Hta waves a square of           avoid the many army patrols on                  before their fifth birthday, and one
laminated paper in a wasted effort      the way here.’’                                 in 12 women will lose their lives
to generate coolness.                   Naw Delay’s trek to Ei Tu Hta                   from complications of pregnancy
There’s no electricity in the camp,     involved avoiding landmines,                    and childbirth.
no fridge, no ice, no fans and no       crossing flood-swollen rivers and               Naw Delay says the human
television. Food and drinking           existing on what they could find                potential that has been wasted in
water are cooked or boiled in pots      to eat on the way.                              Myanmar is a shame.
sat on a charcoal-burning brazier.      ‘’Villagers carried only what they              ‘’As a teacher it is hard to see so
The pain of talking about the death     could carry. We farmed 12 acres                 many Karen children not getting
                IDP in Karen Baw
of her son causes Htee Lerstate         [4.9 hectares]. We had 20 buffalo.              an education that a secure and
Hta to cry. She swipes at the tears     The Burma army gathered them                    stable life could give them. I’m
tracking through dry tanaka             in a field and slaughtered them, not            upset to see schoolchildren with
powder on her face.                     for food, they just killed them. We             no materials, no reading books, no
‘’If this ceasefire breaks like the     dare not go back now.’’                         exercise books and no pens or
last one, I don’t know what to do.      Naw Delay’s pain is etched on her               pencils. It’s worse for the people
We can’t keep living like this. My      face and she says as a woman                    [displaced] inside _ they have no
concern is for my children. I want      caught in conflict, hers has been a             teachers.’’
them to have an education. I want       difficult life.
them to study in a safe place, not
having the constant worry of
having to think about running.’’
Htee Ler Baw Hta, like all the
people interviewed for this story
agree that they want peace, they
want to go home, but are worried
about their status as citizens and
worried about what has happened
to their land and plantations.
‘’How can we feel safe to go
back. They’ve burnt us from our
land. The first sign of goodwill
would be for the government to
withdraw their soldiers from our
                                                                                 A malnourished 4-year-old child- Photo:BPHWT
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Dawei Development:
Environmental Impact Assessment team
a major concern for villagers

Local villagers affected by the development of the controversial Dawei (Tavoy) Special Economic
Zone in Southern Burma say they are disappointed with the team from Chulalongkorn University
                                                      Photo: KIC
Environmental Research Institute hired by the Italian-Thai Development Company to carry
out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project.
Villagers from Kaw Tee Lor            highway. In 2017 they said will          transportation better for you? We
(Thebyut Chaung) and the              extend it up to eight lanes.”            already knew this. But when we
University’s EIA team met to          Video footage seen by Karen              asked exactly how wide the road
discuss aspects of the route the      News of the EIA meeting filmed           would be and how far it will
construction of the Tavoy-            by a villager shows a surveyor with      extend, they said they didn’t
Kanchanaburi highway would            a map of the project who tells the       know. The villagers asked how the
take. The villagers said the Thai     villagers the Tavoy project will be      company plans to take care of the
surveyors would or could not          a link to India. The team members        local peoples’ land and
answer their questions about the      seen in the video appear nervous         plantations? When we asked
project and only emphasized           a team leader is controlling the         about the plantations, houses and
project benefits.
 photo:Mizzima                        team members.                            farms destroyed by the company,
Saw Aye, a villager, who attended     Saw Aye said the asked the               they replied that they cannot
the meeting, told Karen News          villagers a series of questions and      answer these questions.”
“They [EIA team] showed us a          offered only a basic rationale of        Saw Aye said villagers also asked
map of the car road. They said this   how it would affect the villagers.       the Chulalongkorn University EIA
road is for your village’s            “They asked us did we know the           team how the development would
development. They have already        road will pass through our village?      impact on local rivers and land
finished building a ‘dust’ road       Do you know the road is for              they were met with silence.
[unsealed]. In 2012 to 2015 they      transportation and for an                “We asked them what
will finish building four-lane        electricity line? It will make           environmental impacts the project
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will have on our village, for        team was a huge disappointment           villagers concerns of how the
example, if the company clears       to the villagers.                        project would affect their farms
trees how will the river we use be   “Some villagers are disappointed         and the environment. The KNU
affected. We asked what other        and others left the meeting before       lifted its blockage on the road
planned projects for the area are    it had finished, other villagers did     construction after the ITD agreed
linked to the Dawei project? They    not fill out the forms given to them     to carry out environmental impact
didn’t give us any answers.”         by the EIA surveyors.”                   assessment. The KNU says the
Saw Aye said the meeting with the    The ITD Company is a Thai                agreement is only for an access
Chulalongkorn University             owned company that is developing         road for to allow the EIA and
Environmental Research Institute     the $60 billion mega Tavoy/Dawei         Social Impact Assessment to
                                     Development Project in Tavoy,            survey the route for highway.
                                     Southern Burma. The project              The Dawei Special Economy
 "...When we asked                   includes a deep-sea port, a 250-         Zone planned construction has run
   about the plant-                  square-kilometer light and heavy         into a number of problems that
                                     industrial zone, a 4,000-megawatt        have delayed it. These include the
 ations, houses and                  coal-fired power plant, and              KNU’s ban on the road
 farms destroyed by                  railways link to the Thai border in      construction, armed conflict in the
 the company, they                   Kanchanaburi. The super highway          project area, the Burma
                                     system will also have transmission       government’s cancellation of a
  replied that they                  lines and oil and gas pipelines          4,000-megawatt coal-fired power
    cannot answer                    constructed alongside it.                plant and the opposition from
  these questions."                  Since December 2011, the Karen           thousands of local people who will
                                     National Union had blocked the           be evicted from their homes.
                                     ITD road construction due to                                  Karen News

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        Development project: There is no
Paul Sein Twa, a spokesperson                                                      to address the grievances of the
for an alliance of grass-roots                                                     people.’’
based organisations that operate
                                           "The huge mega                          Paul Sein Twa says the
as the Burma Environment                    developments -                         government and regional investors
Working Group (BEWG), insists              dams, deep sea                          regard refugees and displaced
Burma’s investment laws and               ports, hydropower                        people as future sources of cheap
regulations governing develop-              dams, mining,...                       labour for the planned economic
ment projects are ineffective and           are being done                         zones. He says the government is
offer no legal protection to citizens.                                             sending out the wrong signals that
‘’Land ownership is difficult, most
                                            without a legal                        will attract unethical investors.
of the villagers we surveyed had             framework in                          ‘’It’s all designed to be attractive
documentation from local                        place."                            to foreign investors. Economic
organisations, not from the                                                        zones, eight-year tax free
government their land tenure is          and at their head offices over the        incentives, the East-West Corridor
based on these local documents.          selling of resources. In Karen            linking eastern Burma, China and
The majority of ethnic people            areas Malaysian companies want            Thailand. It will also sideline the
don’t have ID cards. It is crucial       to establish palm oil plantations.        ethnic armed groups they will not
that the Karen National Union            They have government permission,          be able to resist the pressure or
negotiate land titles in their peace     but not from the KNU. Without             operate freely,’’ said Paul Sein
talks, otherwise it will dissolve into   proper consultation these projects        Twa, adding that development
a big mess. Many people who had          have the potential to spark a             projects have already robbed
documents lost them when they            conflict.’’                               thousands of villagers of their
fled to the jungles.”                    Paul Sein Twa shakes his head and         farms and land to unscrupulous
‘’Companies want the cheapest            says it is incredible that the Italian-   government authorities and there
option, and in a country without         Thai Development Company, the             is little villagers can do without
laws or mechanisms to control
.                                        Thai company constructing the             legal protection.
what companies can do or can’t           deep sea port and industrial park                         IDP Taungoo district
                                                                                   ‘’The huge megaindevelopments
do the impact on communities and         at Dawei on the Andaman Sea,              dams, deep sea ports, hydropower
the environment will be irreversible.    only agreed that they would carry         dams, mining, deep sea drilling,
If there’s development there’s           out an EIA when the Karen                 logging and construction of the
displacement.            Corporate       National Union demanded one. He           infrastructure needed for transport
responsibility should mean that          believes there is a strong case for       are being done without a legal
before starting a project an             having all mega-developments              framework in place. There’s no
environment impact assessment            shelved until there is a legal            pressure or any basic requirements
[EIA], a social impact assessment        framework to deal with all related        for developers to carry out EIAs
and a conflict impact assessment         issues land rights, environment,          or social assessments. We know
should also be carried out,’’ said       pollution, compensation and               from many previous examples that
Paul Sein Twa.                           complaints.                               environmental disasters do happen
He added that without evaluating         ‘’We call on the ethnic armed             oil leaks, logging, mining pollution
the impact of large-scale                groups, the government and the            and we know from experience
development projects on                  business community to freeze              around the world that companies
communities or the environment           developments until the ceasefires         are often not so good at self-
there is a huge potential to reignite    are negotiated and there’s rule of        regulation.’’
armed conflict.                          law in the country to protect both
‘’There is tension within the ethnic     people and the environment. Now
armed groups at the local level          there is no rule of law or mechanism
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     Mine pollutions kills villager’s

 fails to act

Wearing a torn grey t-shirt and
shorts, U Aung Sein paddles his
small bamboo raft across the
muddy water reservoir that
surrounds his dead betel nut           Photo:Kwekalu
plantation. He lays out his fishing
net in the dirty water, but expects    A Thai based company, Myanmar            are not literate people so we dare
there will not be any fish.            Pongpipat Company Ltd,                   not go and complain to the [mine]
U Aung Sein says he is not a           operates a tin and tungsten mine         owner. They can do to us
fisherman by choice, but since         in Heinda, 45 kilometer east of          whatever they want to and we no
dirty run-off water from a nearby      Tavoy. The Thai company has              choice but to accept it.”
Thai tin mining operation has          been there since July, 1999 after        Ma Cho Tin lost her plantations.
swamped his land he has little         it was granted a contract from the       Ma Cho Tin said.
choice.                                former Burma military regime’s           “First the (company and local
U Aung Sein says his plantation is     Ministry of Mines.                       authority) told me they will pay me
slowing dying from the muddy           The run-off from the mine affects        1,500,000 kyat compensation,
water from Thai mine in Heinda,        Ka Baw Chong village and 11              but they paid us only us only
east of Tavoy. U Aung Sain, is         other villages down stream from          500,000 kyat. The company
from Ka Baw Chong village close        Heinda (Kay Ta) and Kay Tu (Ba           owner son told us if we come and
to the Heida mining site.              Wa Pin Chaung). Local villagers          ask for compensation again, they
U Aung Sein says it was tough          say Heinda mine has been polluting       would put us in jail. If we lose our
when he lost his lost his right foot   the water for more than 10-years         land, we have nothing left, we have
when he stood on a Burma Army          and complaints from villagers            to work on as daily laborers and
land mine, but he now feels this       affected by the pollution to the         become the slave of others. When
time the flooding from the mine is     local authorities about the issue        we go and collect tin outside the
worse and he could lose his four       have been ignored. Three villagers       mine they arrest us.”
acres plantations and his house –      in Ka Baw Chong village lost their       U Aung Sein is worn out and
everything he has worked for.          land and plantations from the            frustrated by the lack of action to
“When I leave my house I step on       mine’s dirty water.                      their concerns.
the water. My betel nut, coconut       Ma Cho Tin is one of those               “I went and told the company and
and durian trees are all dead. The     villagers who lost her land and she      the company manager, but they
only way for us to survive is          told Karen News.                         don’t even want to come to see
abandon here and to move up the        “I lost all my small and big             the damage to our plantations.”
mountain.”                             plantations – 11 acres in total. We                  Busy mother Dah Ku Paw
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                                         uD>fylRySRvD>ftd.furSH        tupD.f

Refugee Camp - fire scared residents

Days after fire destroyed refugee housing, affecting              the fire for many hours. We tried to convince him
4,400 people in Umphiem Mai refugee camp, 87                      that the fire was too far away and could not reach
km south of Thai town of Mae Sot, the camp’s                      our house, before he would go to bed.”
cemetery caught fire, destroying many tombs. Over                 Naw Htoo said her house is located close to the
a month later, a fire destroyed a bible school and                edge of the forest and the thought of a bushfire is
other buildings in Mae La Refugee Camp, 57km north                also scares her.
of Mae Sot town. For refugees in the camp, this had               “There is only a school building between my house
been a huge threat.                                               and the edge of the forest. We have to be careful,
On February 23 a huge fire destroyed over 500                     not only fire from our kitchen, but also fires in the
houses in Umphiem Mai refugee camp and over 500                   forest.”
houses dismantled to prevent fire from spreading.                 In recent months the Thailand’s north has been
Naw Htoo, a resident of Umphiem Mai refugee camp                  ravaged by forest fires. The governor of Tak
said that she and her family were scared but                      province, Suriya Prasatbandit, was reported in The
fortunately, their house was not in the section where             Bangkok Post asking for the Burma authorities in
the fire started.                                                 Myawaddy, a border town opposite Tak, to help
 “The fire didn’t reach to our house, but we were                 curb the forest fires.
frightened and moved all our belongings from the                  On April 28, a fire has destroyed a bible school and
house. My eight year-old youngest son is still scared             other buildings in Mae La Refugee Camp, fortunately
and shocked by the fire.”                                         camp residents managed to put out the fire after
Naw Htoo said her son had trouble sleeping at night               about an hour.
as he is still scared by the fire.                                A camp resident whom witnessed the fire explained
“The other night, there was fire at the camp’s                    that the fire destroyed several buildings in the
cemetery. It was quite far from us, but it can be seen            Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College
from our house. My youngest son wouldn’t go to                    (KKBBSC) compound located in Zone C.1A of
bed. Even though he was sleepy, he sat and watched                Mae La refugee camp.
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                                         uD>fylRySRvD>ftd.furSH         tupD.f
A teacher at the bible school said.                                Photo:KIC
“All buildings in the school compound were
destroyed by the fire – there’s nothing left.”
Saw Ar Mu, a security officer from Mae La refugee
camp said that the camp is on high alert about fires.
“We always warn camp residents to be careful with
fire, especially in the dry season. Each of the camp
zones and section leaders, together with other camp
security officials are responsible to constantly urge
people by announcement from loudspeakers to be
careful with fire.”
Saw Ar Mu said, as a precaution, every house has
to prepare firefighting tools.
“We instructed every household to have water and
sandbags ready and we make sure they follow the
instructions. We also warn them to watch their fires
closely while they are cooking and to kill the fire
after they finish cooking. We’ve been raising fire
awareness for long time.”
Forest fires around the various camps are                         The was a fire in Mae La refugee camp in 2010
everywhere, but the security officer said they try to             when an office of Karen Youth Organization caught
keep the camp safe.                                               fire and all office materials including computers were
“There are forest fires around the camp, but we                   destroyed.
make sure it doesn’t get into the camp by assigning               Northern Thailand is lately experiencing a heatwave
camp security officers to watch closely and stop the              with temperatures reaching as high as 42c.
fire in time.”

                                                                                        Cartoon: Poe Taw (Karen News)
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                                           uD>fylRySRvD>ftd.furSH      tupD.f

                      time to go home?
Rumors of repatriation of refugees     regarding the repatriation of            go back. There is still no
from Burma living in camps along       refugee from Burma from the Thai         guaranteed security or work for
Thai-Burma border are a major          Burma border. We’ve told every           us there at the moment - we won’t
causing talking point for camp         camp committee and all camp              be going back. When the time is
residents. Recent political            residents that we won’t be going         right and situation is safe, we will
developments in Burma and the          back if the situation and conditions     definitely go back.”
recent ‘peace talks’ between the       are not right.”                          Saw Aung Than said, that if the
Karen National Union and Burma         Saw Aung Than, secretary of the          government is serious about the
government have added                  camp committee at Tham Hin               wanting refugees to return, they
uncertainity to the refugees           refugee camp said that refugees          need to start preparations now.
futures.  The Karen Refugee            have not been informed about             The process should start with
Committee based in Thailand said       repatriation         by      donor       consultation with refugees. Saw
that they have yet to be informed      organizations such as UNHCR,             Aung Than pointed out that there
officially about repatriation of       KRC or other relevant officials,         were many issues to be
refugees.                              even though the Burma                    considered before refugees were
Saw Robert Htwe, Chairperson           government is inviting people to         to return – location sites, housing,
of the Karen Refugee Committee         return.                                  land rights, citizen identity cards,
spoke to Karen News.                   Saw Aung Than told Karen News.           livelihood opportunities, education
“Until now, we haven’t been told       “Even if the Burma government            and a secure environment free of
or informed by any related officials   forces us to go back, we won’t           landmines.

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                                            uD>fylRySRvD>ftd.furSH      tupD.f

Rumors of repatriation started to                                                situation should be resolved first -
spread        among         refugee       "I think it is still early             then the refugee position should be
communities living along the Thai       to work on the return of                 worked on.”
Burma border after the KNU and             the refugees... there                 Many refugees along the Thai
Burma government signed a                are many IDPs [inside]                  Burma border say they are excited
ceasefire agreement in January this            that are facing                   about the prospect of returning
year.                                     problems even worse                    home, but at the same time
A Tham Hin camp refugee said that           than refugees in the                 express caution about the ‘peace
he still has doubts about the                         camps."                    talks’ between the KNU and
government.                             government has responsibility for        Burma government. Refugees
“I am still distrust the government.    the safe return of refugees.”            spoken to by Karen News said
We’ve been living here [refugee         Saw Eh Htee Kaw, chairperson             that having peace is better than
camp] for many years. We have           of the Karen Youth Organization          fighting and they hope for a
never seen the [Burma]                  based in Mae La camp said that           genuine peace.
government prepared anything            the government should solve the          There are nine refugee camps
worthwhile for the return of            return of internally displaced           along the Thai-Burma border -
refugees.”                              person in Burma first. Only after        Mae La, Umpheim, Nu Po, Mae
A refugee youth from Mae La             the IDPs are resettled should            Rama Luang, Mae La Oon, Tham
camp said he is willing to go back,     refugees should return.                  Hin, Ban Don Yang and the two
but only if the conditions are right.   “I think it is still early to work on    Karenni camps, with a total
“We have to get our rights back         the return of the refugees. Within       population, estimated by the
as a human being and we should          Burma, there are many IDPs that          Thailand Burma Border
be equal. If I have livelihood          are facing problems even worse           Consortium, of 139,042 people.
opportunities and I can restart my      than refugees in the camps along                      Karen News
life, I will go back. The               the border. I think that the IDP
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                                        uD>fylRySRvD>ftd.furSH      tupD.f

Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung is finally home

The Karen National Union leader,                                             leaders meet in Mae Sot. As
Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung, who             Aung Min: This                       more details become known
was sentenced to life plus three                                             about the discussions Karen
years on March 13th, has arrived         means, I kept                       News will report.
back to his organization, the            my word and                         KNU general secretary, Naw
Karen National Union. Padoh             completed my                         Zipporah Sein, General Mutue
Mahn Nyein Maung was released                                                Sae Poe, Major General Mae Aye
under an amnesty issued by                promise.                           Sein, Lieutenant Colonel Roger
Burma’s president, U Thein Sein,     “I am extremely happy to be             Khin, Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo
on March 19th.                       released and have my freedom            Win, Padoh Saw Shwe Maunn,
Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung               government in this time of political    Brigadier General Dah Kyaw Hla,
arrived in the Thai border town of   change.”                                Colonel Ner Dah Mya, Padoh
Mae Sot on March 24 with senior      The Burma Government’s railway          Saw Thawthi Bwe, Colonel Saw
Burma              Government        Minister representative Aung Min        Htoo Htoo Lay and former Major
representatives, led by Railways     gave a short message to journalists     Ka Ner Mi attended the meeting
Minister Aung Min, Chief official    in Mae Sot as he handed Mahn            with the Burma delegation.
officer from the Ministry of         Nyein Maung over to the KNU.            Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung was
Immigration U Khin Yi. The           “This means, I kept my word and         sentenced to life plus three years
government delegation handed         completed my promise.”                  under Article 17/1 and 122/1 by
Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung over          The government representatives          the acting judge, U Hla Win on
to the KNU at 11am.                  and Karen National Liberation           March 13th at a court inside
Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung spoke         Army chief of staff, General Mutue      Burma’s notorious Insein Jail.
to journalists at Mae Sot.           Sae Poe along with other KNU                           Karen News
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                                             uD>fylRySRvD>ftd.furSH      tupD.f

  Burma Community Based Organizations
           question aid cuts
Burma Community Based                    were concerned that funding cuts                The CBO statement accused
Organizations from inside Burma          to cross-border aid were being                  President Thein Sein’s
and along the border urged the           planned by international donors                 government of allowing human
international community to               who are now preparing to relocate               rights violations by the Burma
continue cross border aid even if        their aid and services to Burma at              Army to continue unsanctioned in
there are ‘peace talks’ between          the expense of the vulnerable                   all ethnic areas - land confiscation,
the government and ethnic armed          ethnic populations.                             forced relocation, forced labour,
groups. The CBO’s said it is not         Seng Mai from the Kachin                        extortion, restriction of movement,
the time to cut aid to Burma’s           Development Network Group                       rape and intimidation.
most vulnerable people and               who endorsed the CBO statement                  The CBO statement also
where the most need is.                  spoke to Karen News.                            counceled donors to be
As many as 36 CBOs from                  “The Government may be making                   responsible and to ensure that they
Burma, gathered at the Thai-             peace with the ethnic armed                     “Do No Harm” and that they
Burma border on April 6 to 7, to         groups, but there is still conflict             should not cut humanitarian
discuss the possible withdrawal of       happening in Kachin State.                      support to ethnic communities in
funds and their impact on                Refugees and internally displaced               order to pressure ethnic groups
refugees, displaced people and           people are still in need of cross-              during the ceasefire processes.
migrant workers. The CBO’s               border aid and it should be                     The CBO’s also questioned the
have now released a statement,           continued.”                                     lifting of international sanctions
‘Peace and Development in                Seng Mai recommended that                       until a genuine peace, based on
Burma’ that lists 10                     cross-border aid to war refugees                political solutions, is established in
recommendations.                         in Karen State and on the                       Burma.
In the CBO statement released in         Bangladeshi and Indian border                                    Karen News
early April, the CBOs said the           regions should be continued.
 A backpack medic check up a villager - Photo:BPHWT

                                                                 Fleeing from fighting, a Karen man is building his temporary hut
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                                          uD>fylRySRvD>ftd.furSH      tupD.f

                    A Father's Nightmare
Doo K’ Pru, 42, came to Ei Tu         ordered to give food to the              Burma _ if we want to travel, even
Hta in 2006 after the Burma army      soldiers. The army is building a         to our fields we need the army’s
attacked his village, Nya Mu          road to truck in their supplies. I       permission. We travel to the fields
Khee. He had five children. One       can’t go back now there are many         without it, but if we get caught we
son, aged three at the time, died     more soldiers there now. I               have to porter or are fined and
in 2007 from malaria he caught        prepared my fields, I thought I          punished.’’
living in the camp.                   could do it, but I know now that I       A villager interrupted Doo K’
‘’It was one year after we arrived.   can’t.’’                                 Pru’s story to add a grim footnote
The 10 day journey was bad for        The latest Thai Burma Border             about an Ei Tu Hta resident who
the children. We could only travel    Consortium report backs up Doo           returned to work his fields and
at night. It was tough, climbing      K’ Pru’s story. Its ‘’surveys found      was caught by the Myanmar army.
mountains, the kids were sick,        that coercive military patrols,          ‘’He was ordered to do forced
hungry and tired.”                    forced labour and forced                 labour, he couldn’t do it as he was
‘’Almost the whole village ran. I     displacement each disrupted the          unwell so they fined him. He
was a rice farmer. During the last    livelihoods of at least one in 10        couldn’t pay the fine. He was so
ceasefire the Burma army brought      households’’.                            worried what the soldiers would
in more soldiers to our area.”        ‘’Living here [Ei Tu Hta] and being      do to him _ he hung himself.’’
‘’In December [2011], I returned      a farmer with no land is hard. Land      Doo K’ Pru says: ‘’I went back
to my farm. We had no problems        around the Burma army camp is            because of the ceasefire, but there
when we were there. But there         free, but no one dares use it. Light     were more troops than before.
was an army camp on the top of        Infantry Battalions 590 and 599          That was it for me, I left. It’s not
the mountain and we heard other       are there now. When I went back          worth going through it all again. If
villagers living close by had been    we risked landmines, we had no           we get peace I will return, we
taken as forced labour and            ID cards. We have no rights in           can’t live here forever.’’
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