Saturday, August 8, 2009

Forced militia training conducted in Ye Township

HURFOM (Rehmonnya): On July 3rd, the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 343 led militia training in Ye Township. The LIB forced residents to choose between participating or paying a 6,000 kyat fine.

Nai Myo, a Arutaung villager explained, “At about 9:00 AM the village headman Nai Htun Thin announced every household has to attend the militia training, which [was] lead by the LIB No. 343. He said that this announcement came from the LIB No. 343, and everyone must follow the policy. He said the LIB No. 343 needed about 50 people from our village to attend the training.”

“One of my cousins had to attend the militia training because his family couldn’t afford to pay,” Nai Myo continued. “My cousin said ‘they just taught us how to beat people, and how to control the villagers. They didn’t allow us to hold real guns; they just gave us bamboo sticks to pretend with. One sergeant and 5 soldiers trained us, and about 20 villagers attended the militia training.’”

In the instance of Aurtaung village, most residents chose to pay rather then attend the training. Nai Myo stated, “In our village, we have about 1000 households. Most people were paying money instead of attending the training. Therefore, the authorities collected a lot of money during the militia training.”

Similar incidents of forced militia training and irregular taxation have occurred in the villages of Sonnatha and Ah Phor.

A Sonnatha villager said, “In our village, the village headman Ko Myo Win collected 6,000 [kyat] from each household for the militia training. But we didn’t hear who had to attend the training – I think everyone one in the village paid. There are about 500 household in our village.”

“In our village the authorities set up a signboard for the announcement. The village headman said that the authorities needed about 200 villagers to attend the training,” an Ah Phor villager explained. “If a household didn’t have a son or father, they could pay 6,000 kyat for the training. Everyone else was forced to join the training.”

A political investigator based in Ye Township concluded, “They are preparing for the coming election and an uprising in the villages. In addition, they are preparing to prevent people from uprising if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is kept in prison.”

(Editors Note: All names have been changed for security reasons)

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