Friday, July 3, 2009

Two arrested, tortured without evidence after Three Pagodas bomb blast

HURFOM (Rehmonnya): Because two bombs exploded in Three Pagodas Town, the Burmese army ordered the residents to increase the security.

Some locals and ceasefire leaders told HURFOM that they expect that the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) will attempt to use this event to ensnare cease-fire groups to act as Border Guard Forces (BGF).

The two bombs exploded on June 28th—the first at 8:20 p.m. near SPDC’s Infantry Battalion (IB) 32 and the second in the compound of the Military Intelligence Bureau about 3 minutes later. No injuries were reported.

Prior to the explosion, the SPDC arrested two people and later claimed they were responsible for the bombing. They tortured and detained them for a total of 5 hours.

One resident said, “The SPDC arrested two people, U Myo (55) and his son Pho La Pyae (20), who live in quarter No. 3, before the explosion happen at 8 p.m.…they were asked about the Karen National Union (KNU) Major Kyaw Htoo who came to their house.”

The resident added that the two men explained how they’d spoken to the KNU officer about trading wood and nothing more, though the SPDC nonetheless tortured and detained them until 1 a.m.”

A witness from the area told HURFOM, “the KNU Major Kyaw Htoo just came and talked about wood trading in U Myo’s house—everybody in Three Pagodas, who works with furniture shops and wood trading had been communicating with the KNU, because they get the wood from the KNU territory areas. If they didn’t have communication with the KNU, they couldn’t run their business easily in the area.”

A source in the area said, “the SPDC forced 5 residents and 5 soldiers to provide security in each quarter (1, 2, 3).”

He added that LIB 32 intimidated residents by saying that if they wouldn’t act as security, they would have to leave the area; he suspected that the explosion must be connected with the SPDC’s own activities.

The 58-year-old resident, who lives in quarter No. 3 said, “Because the security is very tight around those areas, it’s impossible for the others groups to explode [a bomb] in front the Military Intelligence Bureau compound and the in front of the IB 32. There is 24 hours security perimeter set up….most people think these may be the military’s [methods] of making the border seem insecure.”

According to the KNU brigade No.6, “The exploded bombs’ serial numbers were 99. We never use with our troops. We always use N81.”

The local people consider the explosion a scare tactic by the SPDC to force the cease-fire groups to become a Border Guard Force (BGF).

A source told HURFOM, “The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) spiritual leader abbot U Thuzan didn’t agree with becoming involved in the [SPDC-organized] BGF. Therefore, they have a problem making the decision to become a BGF. It seemed that this explosion would force them to take action [by becoming] a BGF.”

According to a former captain from the cease-fire group Karen Peace Force (KPF), “Even though [KPF] No. 3 battalion lieutenant colonel Lay War agreed to be a Border Guard Force, some still don’t agree with him. If our troops make a BGF troop, our troops become the SPDC. On the other hand, we don’t have [enough] Karen troops to defend our people. In my perspective, the SPDC [tries to] make the people scared and show reasonable cause for the ceasefire groups to participate in the BGF.”

The former KPF captain added that lieutenant colonel Lay War left the morning of June 30th to travel to the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw.

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