Thursday, September 22, 2011

Burmese Militarization in Association with Forced Settlement Displacements in Rural Areas

East Burma is a place where various ethnic minorities have lived and farmed in the lowland valleys of the forested rugged mountains.  One could hardly spot small clusters or individual dwellings in the vast land on the topographic maps or aerial/satellite photos.  But during this decade, the pictures have been changed.  Newly built roads can be found with large new villages.  Large and small patches of bare spaces where the villagers used to live can also be found in the valleys and over the hills.  Reportedly, new large villages are the displaced villages lived by villagers who were forced out of their homelands by the Burmese military.  The displaced villagers were kept under the watchful eyes of the troops which systematically stationing along the Thai-Burma border and blocking the villagers of access to Thai territory, or restricting from any mobility.  

As we all know that the troubles have been brewing all across eastern Burma and along the Thai-Burma border because of the decades-long refugee issues caused by Burmese ethnic minorities fleeing from the conflicts between Burmese troops and resistance armed forces of minority groups.  In fact, the refugee issue has been directly contributed by brutal Burmese militarization and its forced displacement of ethnic minorities who were literally under house arrests in those displaced villages.   Recent expansion of Burmese militarization has further driven the influx of refugees into Thailand due to continued brutality and violation of human rights of Burma army.  The military’s expansion of additional hundreds of Burmese battalions along the Thai border has given a funny feeling for some military analysts about the Burmese regime’s probable other intentions beyond thwarting of domestic insurgency.

The author may not be able to solve the problems directly, but it is possible to assist those who are directly dealing with the issues. 

Visualizing Burmese Militarization: A Case Study of Southern Shan State Townships

Area of Interest:  Three southern Shan State (SSS) townships, Mongpan, Mongton and Monghsat , at the Thai-Burma border area were selected for a case study of the “Impacts of Burmese militarization upon changing human settlement patterns”.  The border region of SSS townships (See above) is relatively quieter as a truce has been held, so far, between Burmese troops and the resistance groups.  In a report published by the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) in August 2010, stated that “… The Shan IDP camp committees report that militia groups are now forcibly conscripting male villagers in militia units in Mong Ton and Mong Hsat townships, and this is now a major cause of displacement. Relations between SSA-S and UWSA have stabilized for the moment, although SPDC have increased restrictions on movement for civilians in the border township of Mong Ton.”

Settlement Patterns:  Thanks to Google for allowing us to trace back the history of an area of the past using available old satellite images posted on Google.  Normally, the ethnic minorities living in the mountains lived peacefully, farming traditional ways.  After they were forced out of their land properties, their houses and animal shelters, the abandoned places still stood clear in the natural landscape over the years.  On the satellite images, those cleared patches are visible to locate them.  Similarly, the charred ground patches allegedly torched by the troops, were also left as scars on the terrain.  That’s how a series of data on the sites of individual abandoned lands, burnt villages, and newly built displaced villages were collected by digitizing on the satellite images. (See above)

Visualizing in a bigger picture about displaced settlements:  Pins, in the picture (above), are spatially registered.  Each point is located at the real place and displayed on satellite imagery.  It is visually presented with 3-D relief model.  After placing all the chips (displaced settlements and Burmese troops’ positions) in places spatially and visually, military analysts, strategists, evacuation and aid planners, decision makers, alike could use digital information (KMZs) on Google online; and/or review graphical reports.  Note that this picture is only a sample graphical presentation of militarization and human settlement displacements of a valley in Monghsat Township.

The above-mentioned examples only cover small parts of the Area of Interest (MongPan, Mongton and Monghsat Townships of Southern Shan State).  The work done is only 10% of the total because of dwindling resources and time spent by a lone horse. 

Burmese militarization is still expanding, ethnic minorities are trying to live their lives, and many of them are running for shelters as refugees. 

Burmese Militarization:  According to TBBC report in November 2009, 235 Burma Army battalions are based in eastern Burma.  Burma Army’s militarization has been threatening civilian safety and security in rural settlements.  Locations of military outposts and camps were identified and filed with Latitude/Longitude coordinates. (See above)  In addition, some Burmese military’s hidden sites for underground tunnels/caves sites are being uncovered on the satellite images.  Using visualization tools, underground military sites were discovered around Mongton area.  Newly built roads from Mongton led me to find this site. (See below)

Burmese military have been constructing tunnels and underground facilities since 2004.  Many hidden Burmese underground military installations have been uncovered so far, by the author. 

Expanding Military Camps, Outposts: 

References:  Google™, TTBC, FBR, DVB

Posted ~ December 3, 2010 by winner’s circle
  re-established and posted on September 22, 2011 by winnerscircle.

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