Karen State, Burma: Toungoo District Image Analysis

Executive Summary
Papun District Image Analysis
>Toungoo District Image Analysis
Dooplaya District Image Analysis
Shan State Image Analysis
Shwegyin District Image Analysis
Myawadi District Image Analysis
Thailand Image Analysis

AAAS conducted two analyses of the Toungoo District based on reports of attacks on villages and forced displacement occurring between 2006 and 2009. The first analysis, conducted in 2007, concerned reports that southern Toungoo District had been the site of increased military activity in 2006 and continuing into 2007, including military camp development, and dam and road construction. Attacks corresponding with these developments were widely reported by the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) and corroborated by reporting from the Free Burma Rangers (FBR) and the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC).

A number of villages were reported as having been burned and bombarded with mortar fire. Other villages had simply been abandoned, likely due to military harassment. In particular, military activity was concentrated along the east-west road from the Pegu Division in the west to Karenni State in the east, running through the larger-sized settlement Bawgali Gyi, and the southeast running road from Bawgali Gyi to BuSahKee and Papun District. Several dam construction projects in the area also drove attacks as reported by FBR and KHRG.

Archival images from May and March 2004 were compared with a new collection from February 2006. Image analysis located three settlement areas that had been visibly disturbed, abandoned, or destroyed (see Images 14 - 16) and also identified military camps (see Images 17 - 19). These sites are summarized in the map below.

Toungoo District Sites: 2006 Analysis

In 2008, the Free Burma Rangers and the Thailand Burma Border Consortium again identified Toungoo as a hotbed of attacks and forced displacement. This prompted AAAS SHR to conduct another survey of the district in 2009. Images from 2004, 2006, and 2009, each covering a portion of Toungoo district, were compared with one another to derive results. Analysis identified fourteen settlement areas that exhibited a sharp decrease in the number of structures visible in imagery taken after the reported attack. The fraction of structures destroyed exceeded half in nearly all cases, and in a substantial percentage of cases the settlement ceased to exist entirely. The destroyed villages in images one through five were all located within six kilometers of one-another. Those in images six through fourteen, while located twenty five kilometers from the first group, were similarly proximate. The nearly simultaneous disappearance of so many settlements over such a wide geographic region is suspicious, to say the least. In some cases, agricultural activity nearby these settlements shows signs of having been abandoned, a phenomenon that is also supported by field reports. Images 20 - 29 are taken from the 2009 analysis.

Image 14: Removed Structures

The "after" image (23 February 2007) depicts a small settlement with all structures removed from the area. The identified area corresponds with FBR reported December 2006 village attacks at and near the village of Kwey Key. Left image 5 May 2004, GeoEye. Right image 23 February 2007, DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 18.79 N Long: 96.76 E)

Image 15: Cleared Village

The "before" image shows 8 - 10 small structures on 22 March 2004, with the "after" image showing those structures removed by 28 February 2007. Left image GeoEye. Right image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 18.86 N Long: 96.89 E)

Image 16: Removed Structures

The image taken 5 May 2004 (left) depicts a mid-size settlement of approximately 25 structures; in the image taken 23 February 2007 image at least 3 - 5 of those structures are no longer present. Left image GeoEye. Right image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 18.82 N Long: 96.71 E)

Image 17: Expanded fence area of Military Camp
 
The 5 May 2004 image (left) shows a military camp near a large settlement. Expanded layers of fencing should be noted in the 23 February 2007 image, along with the presence of small structures within the boundaries. These could be tents or military vehicles or both. Left image GeoEye. Right image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 18.86 N Long: 96.71 E)

Image 18: New Military Camp

In the 28 February 2007 image a possible military camp can be seen adjacent to the settlement; it was built up during the three-year gap between image acquisitions. A close-up of the camp is found in Image 19. Left image 22 March 2004, GeoEye. Right image 28 February 2007, DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 18.95 N Long: 96.82 E)

Image 19: Military Camp
The image from February 2007 shows a close-up of the possible military camp seen in Image 18. Layers of fencing can be seen in the upper-left corner. Image DigitalGlobe.

Toungoo District Sites: 2009 Analysis

Image 20: Removed Village



The top image (22 March 2004) depicts a small settlement consisting of about ten structures in March of 2004. The bottom image (04 February 2009) shows the same location in early 2009. Nearly all structures in the original settlement have disappeared; only a single building - possibly damaged - remains. Image was obtained based on reporting by the TBBC. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.11, Lon: 96.82)

Image 21: Removed Village



Above, a small settlement consisting of about eleven structures is visible on 22 March 2004. Nothing remains by 04 February 2009, and the clearing is beginning to be overgrown with vegetation. Image was obtained based on reporting by the TBBC. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.05, Lon: 96.83)

Image 22: Removed Village

A village of about seventeen structures is present on 22 March 2004. Only three are visible on 04 February 2009, and the agricultural field that was present appears to have been abandoned. Image was obtained based on reporting by the TBBC. Image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.11, Lon: 96.83)

Image 23: Removed Village



Fourteen structures are visible on 22 March 2004 (above). Only three are present on 04 February 2009. Image was obtained based on reporting by the TBBC. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.09, Lon: 96.84)

Image 24: Removed Village



On 22 March 2004 (above), this village consists of fifteen buildings. Only one is present on 04 February 2009. Image was obtained based on reporting by the TBBC. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.11, Lon: 96.85)

Image 25: Removed Village



On 28 October 2006 (above), a village of substantial size is present at these coordinates. By 04 February 2009, all but two structures have been destroyed. Image was obtained based on reporting by the FBR. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.04, Lon: 96.88)

Image 26: Removed Village



On 28 October 2006, a small village is present in a clearing in the jungle. Three years later, on 04 February 2009, nearly the entire community has been removed, with just two structures left standing. Image was obtained based on reporting by the FBR. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.03, Lon: 96.89)

Image 27: Removed Village



On 28 October 2006, over a dozen buildings make up this village. By 04 February 2009, only four of the original structures remain, some of which may show signs of damage. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.03 Lon: 96.91)

Image 28: Removed Village



Of the twenty five structures present in this village on 28 October 2006, only two remain on 04 February 2009. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 19.01, Lon: 96.88)

Image 29: Removed Village



On 30 November 2006, this village contains seven structures. Approximately two years later, on 18 January 2009, the settlement has disappeared. Image was obtained based on reporting by the TBBC. Top image GeoEye. Bottom image DigitalGlobe. (Lat: 18.78, Lon: 96.79)