Situation Update in Dooplaya District: Indiscriminate Shelling, Fighting, Forced Labor, Peace Talks and COVID-19 Pandemic, August to September 2021 – Myanmar

This situation update describes events that occurred in Kaw T’Ree (Kawkareik) Township, Dooplaya District, in August and early September 2021, including indiscriminate shelling, fighting, forced labor and spread of COVID-19 infections. Shelling and indiscriminate fighting between Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and State Administration Council (SAC) troops in and near villages has resulted in the displacement of local villagers. SAC troops also used villagers as navigators and human shields when moving from place to place. COVID-19 infections are on the rise in areas where SAC troops patrol and move. A meeting was held in the village of Kyaw Hta between several armed groups, including the SAC, the Border Guard Force (BGF) and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), to discuss the end of the fighting and inform the villagers of the peace process.

Bombardments and indiscriminate displacements

Four State Administration Council (SAC) military trucks carrying more than ten soldiers were attacked on the road after leaving A—village, Poh Yay village area, Kaw T’Ree township, Dooplaya district, August 23, 2021. After their trucks were attacked, more SAC soldiers entered the village [A— village]. On August 28, 2021, at around 5 p.m., SAC soldiers carried out indiscriminate shelling in the village of A—. As a result, local villagers had to hide in their [makeshift] bunkers for the night. Then most of the villagers fled their village the next morning; only a few households did not flee that day. All the men in the village fled, but a few women remained. They [the women and villagers who stayed in the village] didn’t dare stay at home, so they stayed together in a house. However, later they also prepared to flee due to the ongoing indiscriminate shelling and the presence of SAC troops. Some villagers fled across the Chay Yar Kloh River. One of the villagers reported: “My father tried to go back to the village but there were more SAC soldiers present in the village, so he didn’t dare to go back. [Instead he] returned to the other side of the river.

A— the villagers heard that the village chief, who was forcibly arrested [date unknown] by SAC troops, was released but they have still not seen him return to the village. His family is also afraid to stay in the village.

A villager from B— Village, Kwin Ka Lay Village Sector, Kaw T’Ree Township, Dooplaya District said, “We always have to run away when we hear mortar shells. She continued, “We heard mortar fire and gunfire between Kyeh Doh [Kyaikdon] and A — village around 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. All the local villagers of [C—] village fled, including women and children. It was raining and they had to stay in someone’s hut (where they had taken refuge). There were seven families there.

Three days ago [before the displacement, and interview on August 28th 2021]local villagers [from C— village, who had fled] learned that civilians in the city of Kyeh Doh had been taken for forced porterage at 22:00 and that 39 people had been arrested. They heard this from their relatives in the city of Kyeh Doh. [This has heightened their concerns.] They are also experiencing a food shortage because they were unable to bring enough food when they fled. Some people have nothing left to eat. Dengue fever is another problem for them during displacement. The villagers, including children, had to flee in the rain. They can get drugs such as paracetamol and amoxicillin [an antibiotic] at the Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT) clinic, but they are only given the exact dose [of the medicine prescribed]. Local villagers from D—village and E—village, Poh Yay village tract, Kaw T’Ree Township also fled. All the children who fled are from the same village [D— village].

On September 3, 2021, at 8:00 p.m. in the village of G—, Taw Naw Mu Htaw area, Kaw T’Ree township, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) [unidentified battalion number] attacked the [local] SAC military camp. Mortar shells fell on a [G—] villager’s house and fragments of mortar shells fell next to the house. According to local villagers, those in the house were not injured.

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