Friday, May 15, 2009

Army Authority Uses Villages for Forced Labor in Arakan

Maypon (Narinjara): Burmese army authorities from Western Command based in Ann Town have been forcing villagers to work on construction of a road between Kam Daunt Gri and Shauk Kon Village in Mraypon Township, said one villager.

He said, "We were forced by army officials to collect and gather stones from one small mountain located by Kam Daunt Gri Village. After that, the army officials forced us to transport the stones to the road construction site." All villagers from both villages have been working on the road every day.

The road is a rural road that connects Kam Daunt Gri and Shauk Kon. Authorities are using Kan Htin Fri as a government model developing village in Arakan State.

"The army authority is building up the village of Kam Daunt Gri in accordance with government projects, but local people have been forced by army officials to work at many project sites without pay," he added.

The villages are located near the Arakan coast and most of the villagers work as fishermen.

"We are fishermen and our survival depends on the daily work of fishing. But recently we can not go to the ocean for fishing. So we have lost our daily income," he said.

One major from the Military Operation Planning Bureau in Western Command came to the area and ordered the villagers to transport the stones to the road construction site.

"The official told us that the road is constructed for us, so we should construct the road ourselves. He said we would get "kutho" [merit] by contributing our wages to the road construction," the villager concluded.

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