More on forced labor
More on forced labor
Hot chillis for the Army
Villagers from Mongkhark, eastern Shan State, told S.H.A.N. recently they had been growing chillis for the local battalion of LIB (Light Infantry Battalion) 327 since June.
Their task was multifold: they had not only to set apart 1 acre of their own farming land for the purpose, they were also made accountable for the seeds, fences, fertilizers and daily care, said villagers from Kengpin, Mongkhark Township. Kengpin has about 30 households.
The same thing is happening in other village tracts of Mongnoong and Namwok, where people there are ordered to grow not only chillis, but also mustard and cucumber, they said.
"We are already overburdened by the work in our own farms," said one. "The commanders have a lot of men who do nothing. But instead of ordering them to do the work, they have been ordering us instead. I don't understand it. But I'm afraid to ask. Maybe the Burmese army don't want us to live here any more, and is doing all it can to make our life a living hell".
Endless job of repairing road for the army
There is a dirt road 2-furlongs long going up from the main road to the IB 244 battalion post in Kengtung. Since 19 August, the people of Banlawng (28 households) Mongzem Tract have been taking turns to repair it.
Every day from 07:00 to 17:30, villagers dig with hoes brought from their homes under the idle but watchful eyes of 25 soldiers.
"In a way, we are even worse off than ordinary convicted prisoners, whom at least they have to feed. We have to bring our own food," said a villager.
Working free in one's own confiscated field
Since August, all land on both sides of the Kengtung-Mongkhark road, comprising 800 acres in all, has been declared an official possession. Villagers in at least 5 tracts, namely, Wanmao, Yanglong, Yanghok, Kardtao and Lamong, who had their fields and gardens alongside the road, lost them all without compensation, said a villager from Kardtao on 4 October.
"The only compensation was that we were told to work in these fields, that once used to be ours," said the villager. "Since mid-September we have been growing soybean, gram-peas and potatoes for them."
It was a demanding job, according to him, because it was harvest time for their own rice fields. "But it would be worse if we refused to work for them," he said.
The confiscated land was divided among the army, police, local administration and other government departments, he told S.H.A.N.
"50 acres of them went to the Forestry Department," he said. "And Kardtao (600 households) people have become its serfs since last month."