(HURFOM) In the second week of January the Democratic Karen Buddha Army (DKBA) committed a number of abuses in six different villages in Karen State. They demanded rice and bamboo some from villagers, forced some to works as porters, accused others of being members of the Karen National Union (KNU), demanded money, took property and used some villagers for protection from a KNU ambush.
On 16th January the DKBA Security Battalion (SB), which travels in advance of other DKBA battalions to secure areas and is led by Majors Kyaw Kyaw and Ba Nyain, demanded four thousand bamboo poles and one hundred and twenty baskets of rice from Kauk Sign, Kyait and Ban Ka Lar Don villages, based in Kawkareik Township, Karen state, Burma. The villagers were given a deadline of 18th January to hand over the rice and bamboo to the DKBA camp.
One of the villagers from Ban Ka Lar Don quoted Major Kyaw Kyaw as saying, “if you do not bring the rice and bamboo before 18th January all of you will face problems.”
The day before this incident, on 15th January, DKBA Brigade No. 999 arrested two villagers from Zat Ka Wat village which is based near KNU brigade 6 and is in Kawkareink Township, Karen State. The brigade’s leader, Major Mya Khein and his soldiers were outside of the village preparing to enter when they saw the two villagers returning home from their plantations. The soldiers accused them of being KNU soldiers and the villagers were detained. However, after the village headman confirmed their identity as villagers the major demanded seventy five baskets of rice and 70,000 Kyat before he would release them. The headman had to collect the money and rice from the whole village and once it was handed over the two detained men were released.
On the same day DKBA Battalion No. 907, led by Major Poo Kyaw and Lieutenant Zaw Thein, entered Mae Ka Nae and Ah Kwin Pyin villages, also in Kawkareink Township, and seized villagers’ phones and small batteries from local shops and took 20 villagers for portering.
A source in the KNU said, “if KNU soldiers try to ambush the DKBA while they have those 20 villagers in their hands they will kill them.”
According to a 50 year old woman from Mae Ka Nae, “since 2007 the DKBA (which split from KNU since 1994) have oppressed the Karen, burnt down houses and burnt more than thirty plantations belonging to villagers. I don’t why. What is the DKBA’s purpose and what has it to do with the same Karen people?”