Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lack of Factories and Mills Cause Youth Migration

Sittwe (Narinjara): Burmese migrant workers in Thailand and Malaysia have been facing many difficulties, including unemployment, due to a global economic crisis, but many Arakanese are still leaving for the two neighboring countries to find jobs.

A monk from Rangoon said, "At least 10 to 20 Arakanese youths from Arakan State arrive at Danyawaddy monastery in Rangoon on a daily basis to look for jobs. Sometime women and children are among them."

The monastery belongs to Arakanese monks and is located at the eastern foot Shwedagon Pagoda in Bahan Township in Rangoon, and it is bustling with migrant workers from Arakan State.

"Some of them live in Rangoon if they find a job. But most of the youth have left for Thailand and Malaysia through two border towns - Kothaung in Thanintharyi Division and Myawaddy in Karen State," the monk added.

A monk from Aung Dhama Yitha Arakanese monastery in Kothaung said, "Some Arakanese migrant workers return to their homes from Malaysia and Thailand after losing their jobs, but at the same time, many Arakanese youth have left the country through Kothaung to look for work."

It is well known in Burma that the situation is difficult for Burmese workers in Thailand and Malaysia, but the Arakanese youths leave for these countries one after the other.

U Tha Kyaw Aung, a former politician from Owe Dan Ward in Sittwe said, "The migration of youth to neighboring countries to look for work is directly related to the central government in Burma, because the government never set up any factories or mills to develop the state economically after Burma's independence in 1948. This is the root cause of Arakanese youth leaving the state for other parts to look for work. However, the Burmese military government is happy for Arakanese youth to leave the state."

In Sittwe and other towns, there were some large rice mills constructed by British during colonial rule in Burma, but all the mills have suffered damage and are not operating.

A large number of Arakanese left their homes for Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of Burma such as Hpakant in Kachin State, a while ago due to the poor economic situation in Arakan under military rule.

During the time the military government has been in power, over 50 army battalions have been based in Arakan State as part of ethnic cleansing by the junta. Half of the land in Arakan was confiscated and is currently under the control of the army.

"We really worry about our nation and culture because we will lose our national identities in the future because of abuse by the Burmese military government against our people," U Tha Kyaw Aung said.

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