Sunday, January 20, 2008

Burma: Burma's navy uses forced labour to sell drowned cows meat

Troops from Burma’s navy who on Thursday seized a cargo boat which then sank before reaching shore, are now selling the meat from the more than three dozen cows which drowned in the accident, says a close aide to Burma’s border security forces.

On January 17, cattle traders from Rambree Township of Kyauk Pru Island were carrying 38 cows on a boat to neighboring Bangladesh through Bay of Bengal. The traders had acquired the necessary documents and paid required taxes to the Daya Waddi naval base of Kyauk Pru Township.

On the way to Bangladesh, however, the forces of another naval base at the mouth of the Dabbo Chaung river, near the southern side of Rathedaung Township, seized the boat and forced it towards to Buthidaung town.

But the boat sank on January 18, at about 11:00 pm, in the Mayu River before it reached Buthidaung, and all 38 cows died.

Then, the naval forces brought the dead cows to Buthidaung. Forced labor from nearby villages then spent the whole night preparing the dead cows to bring to the local butcher shops. The meat is on sale at the Buthidaung market today.

One Buthidaung resident said that the naval forces of Dabbo Chaung forcibly diverted the direction of the boat as they want to extort money from cattle traders. Many cows from Burma are exported to Bangladesh under the border trade agreement between the two countries.

A Viss of the beef from the drowned cows is being sold at kyat 3,000 to 4,000, compared to kyat 5,000 per Viss (1 Viss=1.63 kg) for regular beef. Because the meat was not prepared according to Muslim custom, only Buddhists are allowed to eat this beef, according to a meat seller in the Buthidaung market.

Another trader at the market said that it is unsure if the money made from the beef will go to the pockets of the naval forces or the cattle traders.

Source: Kaladan Press Network