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Damming at gunpoint(English Version)

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS ALONG THE SALWEEN 63 On September 16, 2003, an SPDC strategic commander visited Dar Gwin and observed the situation in the area. According to a local source, the Burmese army is planning to set up another official border trade point on the Salween River at Dar Gwin (opposite Ban Tha Ta Fang) to facilitate trade of goods from Mae Sariang to the Papun District area. This will enable troops under the SPDC’s Southeastern Command Division to control and profit directly from border trade in the area. Currently, there are two official border trade points in this area: Ta Kaw Hta (at the junction between Karen State, Karenni State and Thailand) and Mae Set (on the border between Southern Karenni State and Thailand). Trade passes between Mae Sariang District of Thailand to the Sittang valley (Taungoo town) and Loi Kaw, Karenni State, in Burma. Mae Set, which is on the border of Karenni State, is under the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (a ceasefire group in Karenni State) and the Burmese Army’s Eastern Command Division. Goods are transported via Mae Sam Laep on the Thai side using the Salween River as the transportation route up to Takgror Hta and Mae Set. This year, there have been indications that Burmese troops in Papun District are beginning efforts to gain support of villagers by means of “development” projects. For example, when building the road from Kor Pu to Paw Hta Village in March 2004 (see map on page 23), between late March and early April 2004, the SPDC troops did not use forced labour but used a bulldozer instead. Villagers in hiding were also invited via local headmen to come out and see the road building. The SPDC troops took video recordings and also photos of the road building and of the villagers “welcoming” the road building. However, during the road building, 25 plots of paddy fields (51 acres) were bulldozered and destroyed. The villagers noticed that the troops did not video the bulldozering of the farmlands. “They used a bulldozer in road building. They recorded video and photos. When they crossed the farms [formerly used for growing paddy by villagers], they stopped shooting cameras. When they reached villages, they invited villagers to form groups and take photos.” Interview with villager in Paw Hta Village, April 2004

64 DAMMING AT GUNPOINT 1inch = 25 miles Map 16: Projected Flood Area in Papun District

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