Friday, 1 August 2008

Riot Police in Maungdaw Face Hunger

Maungdaw (Narinjara): The families of riot police in regiment number 2 based in Maungdaw are facing starvation as the government salary is inadequate for their daily survival, reports the wife of one riot policeman.

She said, "I am dear to tell you the real situation among our riot police families because we are unable to stay silent during this crucial period of hunger. My husband's salary is only 30,000 kyat, but the price of normal rice is 25,000 kyat per [50 kilo] sack in the market of Maungdaw. How can we carry out our daily life with such a small salary? So many families in the regiment are facing starvation."

A source said at least ten families in the regiment are facing starvation today; another ten families will be facing starvation tomorrow, but it is not permanent hunger among the regiment families.

"I'm not sure how to say it, but it is like a rotating system where a family gets money today from outside and the family is okay for food today. If not okay, the family faces starvation. All the families' survival depends on corrupt money from outside," the woman said.

As the salary is inadequate for family survival, many riot police constables are involved in unlawful work in the area. They are particularly involved in cutting wood from the government land to sell in Bangladesh through wood smugglers.

The woman said, "Yes, many riot police are involved in wood smuggling, but some riot police are working on construction sites as day laborers, and some are working as rickshaw pullers to earn money for their family's survival. We need food, so we have to go outside to look for money."

However, the riot police also have to share their earnings with their regiment commander whenever they earn money at outside jobs.

"A riot police has to pay 1,000 kyat illegally to the riot police commander every day for permission if he wants to work outside as a rickshaw puller. Other police also have to share their earnings with the commander," she said.

Many riot police are solving their problem of hunger this way, but they are not always able to meet their families' needs. When that happens, the families must go hungry.

A source from Maungdaw said many riot police families are begging for food from monasteries in Maungdaw after facing hunger day after day.

Maungdaw is a border town in western Burma where commodity prices are double what they are in other parts of the country. Because of this, many government servicemen are unable to provide for their daily needs with the government salary, and many officials subsequently become involved in corruption in the township. #

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