Narinjara news

Burmese Army force villagers to construct their quarters


Dhaka, 25 January 03:  Burmese Army Light Infantry Division 344 have been reported to have been using villagers as forced labourers in construction of quarters for the soldiers in the western part of Burma, claimed the Chin Human Rights Group based in Mizoram State in the north-eastern region of India in a report on 15th January. 


Last month, during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve the villagers of each of the villages of Ramri, Shweletwa and Para under Paletwa Township have been ordered to build two 27ft X 18 ft houses for the Burmese Army personnel in the battalion headquarters.  The time frame assigned to the villagers was between December 26 and 31.


The period being holiday season the villagers, mostly Chin Christians, requested the local military authority to shift the dateline to a few days later so that they could celebrate their Christmas.  But the request went not only unheeded but also was charged as ‘refusal to obey’ the orders of the army. The villagers were fined twelve thousand kyats for their defiance.


On the other hand, the villagers of Shweletwa Village fearing the consequences of ‘refusing to obey the army orders’ completed the two houses as ordered.  But the military taskmasters showed their utter dissatisfaction and told them that their houses were of shabby build and did not look good.  The result: another fine of kyat six thousand!


The newly arrived officer-in-charge at Shinn-let-wa is said to have refused to disclose his name and has ordered the subordinates to address him as ‘tet-kwet-hmu’ – the company commander, said the villagers.


The region of Paletwa Township lies in a hard to reach hilly area with bad communication network and most of the people live well under the poverty line.  They have almost no knowledge of how to tackle their rights violations.  Their only means of livelihood is rice growing on hills and scarce plain land that bring very little money to them, reports the group.    #