Ten townships in road construction projects
Visitors in Chiangdao District, Chiangmai province this week spoke of thousands of people in southern Shan State being involved in the construction of a railroad and motor-roads, reported a S.H.A.N. correspondent yesterday.
On 22 November, Lt-Col Myint Soe Naing, the new commander of IB 66 (Namzang) issued orders to 4 townships in the area, namely, Hsihseng, Mawkmai, Langkher and Mongpan to work on the Hsaikhao-Mongnai railroad. Whereas two other townships, Namzang and Mongnai, had been assigned the 45-mile section between Mongnai and Koong Marklang in the west, the 4 were allocated the 58-mile section between Koong Marklang and Hsaikhao in Hsihseng Township further west. In addition to packing their own provisions for 17-18 days, the villagers had to bring knives, hoes and rakes.
"Initially the Burmese had demanded 150 conscripts from each township," explained a source. "But our headmen and elders had requested the commanders to make allowance for the fact that it's harvest time for most of our crops. So the quota was reduced to 120 in Namzang and Mongnai and 100 in the rest."
Total labor by shifts will amount to 24,000 by October next year according to official reckoning. (S.H.A.N.'s report on 4 December put the number at 48,000. S.H.A.N. sincerely apologise for the mistake _ Editor).
Women were also reported to be among the forced laborers from the said 4 townships: Hsihseng, 37; Mawkmai, 36; Langkher, 40 and Mongpan, 38, totalling 151.
Three townships for a 40-mile motor-road
Meanwhile, people in three other townships have been involved in the construction of a motor-road from Wanzing in the southern part of Kesi Township to Laikha in the west since 16 October.
"We had just finished the road from Kholam (in Namzang township) to Wanzing (about ten miles) and now this," complained the source from the area. He said it took them nearly two months, 16 August - 10 October, to complete the assignment. "Now we don't know how long it will take to finish the present one."
The three townships engaged in the project are Laikha, Kesi and Loilem. "There are 240-250 conscripts in each 15-day shift, among whom are people as young as 14 and women," said the source from Kesi.
Another three townships on road construction
Three other townships, Namzang-north, Kunhing and Mongnai-north, have since 1 June been building another 40-mile motor-road from Kholam in Namzang township to Kengtawng in Mongnai township.
"Labor for the military, especially those in Kengtawng, is with no end in sight," said the source from Mongnai. "Apart from the road construction, we are also engaged in the construction of their battalion posts in the area.
"Worse, we have to sell them 3-5
viss of opium per household this year whether we have time to tend
to the poppy fields or not."
He said he was worried about the intense cold that might clog the opium sap from their pods. Some areas along the border have already been devastated by the severe cold, although a bumper crop had been anticipated.