Monday, May 25, 2009

Villagers flee from DKBA troops out to recruit

by Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Villagers of Kawkereik district, Karen State are fleeing from troops of the ‘Democratic Karen Buddhist Army’ (DKBA) who come to their villages to forcibly recruit soldiers for its army.

DKBA’s 999th Brigade mainly recruits villagers under the age of 30 in Kyonebai, Chaungphyaar, Kawkabaung, Ohntabin villages in Kyonedoe Township in this district through the village chairmen. They are forcibly recruiting even villagers in the 40 to 50 age group if their preferred age group is not available. The villagers in these villages have to flee from the clutches of DKBA to avoid going to the frontline.

“They recruited 25 people from Kyonebai and 10 men from Chaungphyar, Ohntabin and Kawkathaung. No one dares to go with them. All have had to flee from their homes. But they have to give soldiers to them anyhow. The youth might think of going with the DKBA if they are not meant to do combat duty. But now they have to go to the frontline in Karenni and Kachin State for combat duty,” a local villager told Mizzima on condition of anonymity.

The DKBA issued orders which said those who do not wish to serve in their army must pay hundreds of thousands of Kyats for hiring a person instead of them. All these substitutes must have passed at least the 8th grade. The parents of these youths are in trouble and miserable.

“Many people are in trouble as they cannot find both soldiers and cash. Some mothers and grandmothers are crying their heart out. Some youths went to monasteries to be ordained as monks to avoid conscription. But they cannot escape from the DKBA’s clutches. So now the children are fleeing between Kyonedoe, Pa-an and Myawadi towns,” he added.

Another local resident told Mizzima that the conscription of soldiers by DKBA is now rampant in all the villages in Kawkereik district and the deadline for sending soldiers to them is just three days away. Now they have to give soldiers besides giving cash in the past.

“The DKBA is demanding fees frequently from the villagers in the range of Kyat 40,000 to 50,000. So the villagers are scared of them. We have not yet found any solution to this serious problem. Many armed groups are here, the Peace Council, DKBA and KNU. All come in turns. And then they recruit soldiers forcibly from us. We fear all of them,” he said.

Similar forcible recruitment has been reported in Paikyone Township in Pa-an District and it is learnt that there are about 200 new forcibly recruited soldiers from Kwanbi and Maethane villages in Hlaing Bwe Township, he said.

DKBA is the breakaway faction of the KNU which split from the mother unit in 1994 and signed a ceasefire agreement with the SPDC (junta).

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