Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Burma: Forced labour continues

Residents of northern Arakan state have been forced to build more than 100 houses and a concert stage since the first week of January on orders of Burma’s paramilitary border security forces, or Nasaka, said sources.

On January 4, the Commander of Nasaka headquarters ordered the villagers of Nurullah Para of Maungdaw Township to build 100 houses for the Natala, or model, villagers, who will be resettled in Maungdaw from Burma proper on January 24. The houses will be completed by the end of this month, said villagers from the locality.

Local State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC, government authorities have provided the building materials, while Nurullah Para must supply some 100 workers each day.

Three months ago, Nurullah Para residents were also forced to construct 320 houses for Natala villages.

In Let Wadad village, Buthidaung Township, residents have to provide forced labor every day at nearby army camps, watering physic nut crops, clearing roads, cutting grass, chopping wood and other jobs, said a trader in Let Wadad.

From January 1 to 3, about 267 Natala villagers comprising 50 families were invited from Burma proper to settle in Maungdaw Township. For the settlement of the Natala villagers, the authorities made houses for them and also forced Rohingya villagers to work in the construction after confiscating land from Rohingya farmers.

The SPDC's policy of establishing Natala villages in northern Arakan, for Burmans from Burma proper, has resulted in the confiscation of land and forced labor from the Rohingya community.

Before 1992, some model villages had been built in northern Arakan. The building of model villages reportedly intensified after the formation of Nasaka in 1992.

On January 12, the commander of Let Wadad Pazun Chaung army camp of Buthidaung Township ordered the villagers of Tat Min Chaung, Kyaw Pyu Daung to provide timber poles and bamboo to build a concert stage for a Pwe (Burmese stage drama), which will begin on January 28 and run for five days.

The committee of Pwe has already sold one hundred tickets at kyat 500 each to the villagers who are able to buy—but for the common people, the Pwe will be shown without taking money from the villagers.

Source: Kaladan Press Network