Friday, July 17, 2009

Tunnel Troops’ Families Look to Occult for Help


Astrologers and soothsayers in Burma are reportedly being consulted by an increasing number of people who haven’t heard for months from family members of the Burmese army’s Electrical and Mechanical Engineering section working on the regime’s tunnel construction projects.

Some are practicing yadaya, or magic rites, in the hope that family members involved in the projects return home soon and unscathed.

Superstitious Burmese commonly practice yadaya to ward off misfortune or to bring good luck.

Concern about the fate of officers and soldiers assigned to the tunnel projects has grown following publication of reports about the secret work.

Several photographs of a tunnel construction site were posted on news Web sites in recent weeks, including the Democratic Voice of Burma, Yale Global online and The Irrawaddy, and have subsequently been circulating widely in Burma. The photographs and video material came from a number of sources, including the Burmese military and Burmese activists.

Family members are reportedly worried that after the completion of the secret tunnel-construction project, the regime may not want the officers and soldiers involved to communicate with the public.

A well-connected Burmese editor based in Rangoon told The Irrawaddy that some of the projects are almost complete and at an “important stage.” He believed that the regime
won’t allow soldiers and officers who belong to the engineering force to return home this time.

An astrologer who provided yadaya advice to some family members told The Irrawaddy that a group of female karaoke singers is often brought to Naypyidaw to entertain the officers and soldiers.

The astrologer said that his clients included some family members who had visited Naypyidaw to try and meet soldiers and officers from the engineering department.

“They have seen some tunnels near Naypyidaw and they also heard the sound of testing missiles that misfired,” he said. “They come and see me to get an advice of how to get out of the tunnel project.”

According to a MoU signed between Burma and North Korea in November 2008, Burma plans to build with North Korean technical assistance a military headquarters facility with a maze of underground tunnels around Naypyidaw, the country’s remote capital.

The government is also believed to be building underground silos to house anti-aircraft missiles, radar equipment and other military installations.

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