Monday, May 11, 2009

Soldiers take civilian motorbikes for personal use

HURFOM (Rehmonnya): Villagers are now forced to share their motorbikes with soldiers, for their daily personal use, with out any compensation.

Since January 2008 villagers from Kyauktalin, Kyaukadin and Alaesakhan, Kalein Aung Sub-township, Tenasserim Division have had to share their motorbikes with Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 282 and 273 for traveling between villages and around the township. Bike owners were instructed to give their keys their village headmen in a daily rotating shift, so that a soldier could use the bikes as needed. While no specific reason was given for the order, villagers are expected to keep the bikes full of gas, and to cover all expenses and damage while soldiers use the bike.

Kyauktalin, Kyaukadin and Alaesakhan, Kalein Aung Sub-township are in Yebyu Township which is a black area for military soldiers, because a Mon rebel group, known as Chan Dein, operates out of the area.

According to a Kyauktalin villager, all motorbike owners in the village have to share their bikes with soldiers. If a soldier breaks the bike and does not fix it then the villager will have to pay for repairs to the bike on his own.

A villager from Alaesakhan said, “Once when a soldier took my bike and drove to Ye town about 22 miles away and crashed it. They did not fix it for me. I had to fix it on my own, and it cost me more than 50,000 Kyat”.

According to a villager form Kyauktalin the commander in the area allowed young soldiers who do not know how to ride the bike, to practice on the civilian’s bikes. While training they crashed the bike, and did not have fix it. Instead the responsibility fell to the bike owners.

Shared use is set up on a rotating system, so that a villager gives up one bike every day. Soldiers from LIB No. 282 and 273 use the bikes for going to teashops, liquor stores, and to the market. In Alaesakhan, Kyauktalin and Kyaukadin, there are around 20 civilian owned bikes in all.

According to a villager from Kyaukadin, soldiers who drink and drive will drive very fast and the fall over, in these instance the bike has been abandoned and then villagers have to come and pick it up.

“I wanted to sell my bike because I hate the soldiers after they used it. Every time it makes me angry because they destroy it while driving.” Said one villager “I bought it for 140,000 Kyat and paid 400,000 kyat for the license – that is a lot of money.”

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