Displaced villagers from Thameelay in Rangoon who were provided resettlement by the Democratic Benevolent Karen Army (DKBA) in Karen State are now receiving healthcare from Dr Cynthia Maung’s Thailand-based Mae Tao Clinic.
The villagers, deemed squatters and evicted from Hlegu Township in Rangoon by local authorities in February, were last week offered new homes by the DKBA in Kyaukkhet village, on the Burmese side of the Thai border, near the armed group’s base near Myawaddy.
Buddhist monk Agga Dharma, abbot of the Aung Theikdi Monastery in Pegu where the villagers had previously taken shelter, said renowned philanthropist Dr Cynthia, whose facilities in Mae Sot have provided treatment to Burmese migrants and refugees since 1989, has set up a makeshift clinic in Kyaukkhet to provide healthcare for the 200 newcomers.
“I was informed that 100 sacks of rice were donated by an Arakanese armed group and that Dr Cynthia Maung has erected a makeshift clinic for the Thameelay villagers, he told DVB.
The senior monk said his monastery is now also facing relocation after the local Irrigation Department claimed it fell within the boundaries of a nearby reservoir.
There were originally around 80 households in Kyaukkhet before the DKBA brought in an additional 90 families – around 200 people – from the monastery in Pegu, officially known as Bago, last week.
A community leader in Kyaukkhet said the Burmese government should provide healthcare and education for the village due to its growing population.
“As our population grows, we would like to see government assistance for our children’s education, to pay for teachers, and to implement a health service,” he told DVB. “We should at least have a village-level medical centre.”
DKBA’s Maj. Saw San Aung said his armed group will continue to provide help to people of any ethnicity displaced in Burma under similar circumstances to the Hlegu villagers.
In the early morning on 4 February, Rangoon Division authorities began rolling in bulldozers to Thameelay village, announcing to the residents over loudspeakers that they were being evicted.
Residents claim that five villages – Thameelay, Kywete, Innmati, Oakpho and Wapanat – were founded by groups of settlers in 1998. However, the military has claimed that it owns the land. The start of construction in 2001 on Hanthawaddy International Airport, 20 km from the villages, supposedly drew more and more people to the settlements, but also drew more attention to the sites.