Sittwe (Narinjara): Many villagers have been forced by local authorities to work at a castor oil plantation in Sittwe Township, Arakan State, without any compensation, said a villager from the area.
The villager said, "The military government announced in 2000 that there is no forced labor in Burma, but in our area, forced labor is still alive and it has been used by the local authorities."
Villagers from Kwee Day, Amyint Kyunt, Par Dalike, Nga Tauk, and Chi Li Byint in Sittwe Township have been summoned by village authorities to work at the castor oil plantations.
"The forced labor is being used by the village council, Rayaka, on the orders of the Sittwe Township authority, and the villagers have to work at the castor oil plantation whenever the authority needs forced labor for the plantation," the villager said.
The authority has planted the castor oil plants on many acres of land in the area, after confiscating grazing lands that had been owned by local residents.
"Recently our villagers had to go to the castor plantation to work without any wage. We had to work there at many tasks, including putting up fences, making drains or gutters, and cleaning up brush on the plantation," the villager said.
The villagers in the area have been used by authorities at all times of the year, during both the rainy season and the dry season.
The Burmese military authorities have announced that there is no forced labor in Burma, but there have been reports that local authorities are using people as forced labor in many areas in Arakan State, where people are unable to complain of the violation to the ILO office in Rangoon.