INCREASED BURMA ARMY PRESENCE 41 Sexual violence In areas where the military troops have garrisons and conduct patrols, rape cases are often reported. The Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO), in its recent report Shattering Silences, 15 which documents 125 cases of sexual violence by the regime’s troops against women in Karen State, exposed how women and girls in relocation sites are vulnerable to rape. In the Papun area, two cases occurred in 1999 near the Mae Wai relocation site. On March 2, LIB 434 battalion commander Aung Win and his rank and file column commander Kyaw Khin raped a 16-year-old girl by the side of the road at Toe Mae Khe (15 minutes from Mae Wai relocation site). On April 4, the two officers raped another woman (aged 21) in the same location. It was reported that no action was taken against the rapists. In 2002, a 50-year-old woman was raped by an SPDC officer in a village under SPDC control in the west of Papun District. 15 Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO), April 2004 “Shattering Silences”
42 DAMMING AT GUNPOINT Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Most villagers do not want to go to relocation sites and do not want to escape to Thailand to face an uncertain future as refugees. They live in IDP hideouts, sometimes not very far from their villages so that they are able to sneak back to their villages if the security situation permits. These people are subsistence farmers who earn their livelihood by cultivating rice whenever it is safe for them. They must live in perpetual fear of violent death if the SPDC discovers them. They cannot stay in big groups due to lack of food supplies and also for security reasons. “When we escaped, we killed all the cocks and dogs since we were afraid that they would make a noise.” Interview with an IDP in Pa Hai Village Tract, September 2003 According to the figures of the local KNU District Administration, there are currently about 35,000 16 IDPs in Papun District, out of the total estimated population of around 54,000, who live in 392 villages or settlements. 17 Summary executions When troops come across IDPs, they shoot at them on sight and destroy the villagers’ dwellings, property, and food supplies. As described by an IDP villager in Luthaw Township of Papun District said: “One or two years ago the enemy 18 (Burmese army) came into our village. While they were in our village, they ate our fowl, killed livestock and destroyed rice, and more than that, they injured two people (who they found there).” Villager from Hee Poe Der Village, Luthaw Township, September 2003 In Luthaw Township of Papun District, where almost all of the villagers are in hiding from Burmese troops, many villagers have been killed and wounded by the SPDC troops. Between 1997 and 2003, local records show 16 Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) figure presented at “Symposium on the Salween Dams” June 27, 2003. 17 Estimated figure for 2003 provided by KNU’s Papun District Administration. 18 In the northern KNU area, villagers refer to Burmese troops as their enemy and KNU authorities as their leaders; KNU soldiers are called “Karen soldiers”.