Friday, 6 June 2008

Forced labour for 'No' voters; villagers build military outpost

Khonumthung - June 4, 2008 - The Burmese military junta authorities have engaged villagers from remote areas in Chin state, Burma to construct a military outpost. Engaging the villagers as labour is the regime's way of harassing the people who rejected the draft constitution during the referendum held on May 10.

Captain Thang Cing Thang, camp commander of the Light Infantry Battalion (20) stationed in Shinletwa village in Paletwa Township, southern Chin state issued an order directing the villagers to build and fence military camps on the Indo-Burma border, a village headman in Chin state said on condition of anonymity.

On May 23, military authorities paid a surprise visit to Shinletwa village to find out who all rejected the new constitution, a village head said.

During the referendum, Shinletwa and its nearby villages in the Shinletwa military territory were said to have overwhelmingly voted "No" in the referendum, which the regime said had been supported by 92.4 percent of 99.07 percent of voters who turned up.

"The military authorities came to the village and asked villagers who had told them to reject the constitution. They also wanted to know who the leader is," a village headman said.

Those unwilling to participate in the construction of the military outpost must pay Kyat 30,000 the order said.

So far, Ramri, Pari, Sha O, Hamapi, Arakan and Hemar Te villages have paid Kyat 30,000 each to the camp commander of the Shinletwa military camp. There are 15 villages in the camp territory.

At least five villagers from each village along with the village headman from the respective villages are involved in the construction of a new military camp, according to a villager who arrived on the Indo-Burma border.

Nearby villages of Shinletwa – which have been hit by famine caused by bamboo flowering, are also facing shortage of food.
Soldiers arrested four 'vote No' campaigners in Shinletwa ahead of the referendum poll on May 7.

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