Monday, June 22, 2009

Army enlists youths as porters in Mandalay

by May Kyaw

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - At least 50 youths hailing from central Burma’s Mandalay division were forcibly enlisted on June 1 by the Burmese Army to work as porters to carry military material such as rations and equipment, local villagers said.

Youths, from at least seven villages in Mandalay division’s Thabeikkyin region, known for its gold mines, were forcibly enlisted to work as porters to carry army paraphernalia on the evening of June 1.

“The youths were whisked away in five army trucks. The young men here use to relax at night in teashops. The troops arrived suddenly and took them away,” a local told Mizzima over telephone.

Another local resident revealed, “We have never seen anything like this here in Thabeikkyin town. This is the first time such a thing has happened. But people said those taken away came back by shelling out 100,000 kyat (USD 100) each. About five have reportedly come back.”

While it is still not clear which battalion of the army had taken them away to wok as porters, locals believe that it could the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 148, based near Kyuak Hlebe village in Thabeikkyin Township.

Thabiekkyin Township is well known for gold mining activity and it attracts businessmen as well as people from other townships including Wutlet, Ayardaw and Thantse. Many come and work in the mines.

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