Narinjara News

Forced labour in construction of gas pipeline(?) in Burma

Kyauktaw, 14 June  03
: Fresh reports of forced labour in northern part of Rakhine State in western part of Burma have been reported by our correspondent.

In a bid to construct road and possibly, gas pipeline to the north-eastern part of India large-scale use of forced labour has been made in the townships of Kyauktaw Township in Rakhine State and Paletwa Township in Chin State in the western part of Burma since the end of last year. 

Soon after the joint Indo-Burma survey of existing jungle paths in the beginning of this year forced labour in construction of the road to the Indian border has taken up momentum.  Hundreds of people, men, women and children could be seen streaming to the worksites everyday at the village tracts upriver the Kaladan including Tarwaing-oing, Mreik-wa, Chin Lat Wa, Nwge Let Wa, Kung Chaung, Miza , Milet wa and Tinnma

The labourers have been forced to bring their own food, water, medicine, and tools to dig earth, break blocks of stone and dig drains.  The Burmese military taskmasters could be seen supervising and bullying the forced labourers.

The summer heat and lack of safe drinking water added to the problem as water-borne (intestinal) diseases broke out in pockets of the hard to reach jungle areas a few weeks ago.  At least seven people have been reportedly killed in and around Letpanwa under Paletwa Township alone, our correspondent said.  The diarrhoeal disease also contaminated some border villages on Bangladesh side claiming at least nineteen lives at Mawdokwa Village

“This road can in no way be considered as a simple road leading to the north-east India because there will be gas pipelines installed in a later date for the export of the Rakhine (Arakan) Gas to India.

The present State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) junta will export the gas to India to fatten its coffer, disregarding the people of the region where there is no infrastructure development, and use the money received by selling gas to wholesale militarization of the country to stay forever in power, showing utter disregard to the people’s aspirations for democracy”, a local businessman said.

“The people of undeveloped Rakhine State, being kept in the dark, hardly know that their gas resources is going to be exploited by the Burmese junta and the greedy gas giants from India, sidelining them, and adding to the Burmese junta’s pocket billions of US dollars annually that the junta would use in buying arms and ammunitions,” another a political leader said. 

Prior to 1988 there were only three infantry battalions, whereas at present the number of battalions have been increased to about sixty including LIB 20 in Sittwe, LIB 34 in Kyaukpru, and LIB 55 in Sandoway, our correspondent concluded.  #