Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Burma: Villagers forced to work on construction of model village

This is the first time in 2008; that the authorities in Arakan State Burma have set up a Natala (model) village in Maungdaw Township on January 10, according to local villagers.

A total of about 267 Natala villagers comprising 50 families were invited from Burma proper to Maungdaw Township on January 1 to 3, by the authorities to settle them in northern Arakan. For the settlement of the Natala villagers, the authorities made houses for them forcing Rohingya villagers to work in the construction after confiscating land from Rohingya farmers, an aide close to Nasaka said.

The new comers are poor Burmans, retired civil servants and former prisoners. The new comers were lured by the authorities and forcefully brought to Arakan State.

On January 10, at about 10 am, representatives of the District Peace and Development Council (DPDC) , Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) of Maungdaw Township, accompanied by members of Housing and Planning department of Maungdaw Township went to "Loung Don Village" of Nasaka area No. (4) in Maungdaw Township and seized another 50 acres of land from Rohingya farmers for distributing it to new Natala villagers. The Natala villagers will get one acre per family, said a village elder.

One villager whose land was confiscated for the new comers said, "I have no land any more to support my family members. I have no idea how I will survive without the farm land as I have no alternative source of livelihood."

The SPDC's policy of establishing "Natala village or Model village" in northern Arakan calling in Burmans from Burma proper and Rakhines from inside and outside Arakan 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 ---Burma's Border Security Force---in 1992.

Source: Kaladan Press Network