Thursday, June 4, 2009

Forced labour increases in Maungdaw Township

Maungdaw, Arakan State (KPN): Forced labour is increasing in Maungdaw Township due to the building of the fence on the Burma-Bangladesh border, after Cyclone Aila lashed the area, a local businessman said on condition of anonymity.

The storm and tidal waves have destroyed almost 80 percent of the shrimp enclosures of villagers and barrier or walls, which were recently completed on the Burma-Bangladesh border, to erect the fence, said a shrimp owner of Maungdaw Township.

As a result, the ruling military junta, which had recently carried barbed wires, cement and iron rods from Rangoon to Maungdaw Township by ships, had to take the initiative again to erect the fence in the border area.

The army accompanied by Burma’s border security force (Nasaka) recently ordered every village in Maungdaw Township to provide at least 100 labourers for four days to work at the work site, without any wages and also to take their own food. The concerned authority had already ordered the village tracts of Padaung and Donkhali of Maungdaw Township to provide 100 labourers per village. Having worked at the work site for four days, they had to return to their homes and another group had to go to the work site for another four days, said a school teacher.

On the other hand, the authority concerned invited some other labourers for fence construction from other places, such as Buthidaung and Rathedaung Townships and other villages. But, they were provided Kyat 1,500 to 2,000 per day according to their work capacity, said a local shopkeeper.

Erecting the fence on the Burma-Bangladesh border area causes a lot of hardship for the local people of Maungdaw Township and forced labour also escalated.

Besides, yesterday, the concerned authorities distributed 2 acres of land per family to the new settlers, who were recently brought to Arakan State from Burma proper. The lands were seized from the Rohingya community for Natala villagers. This also upset the Rohingya villagers, said an ex-chairman requesting not to be named.

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