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Forced Labour, Extortion Persist in Chin State

 Villagers in Chin State are still facing forced labour and arbitrary extortion committed by Burma Army soldiers on patrol and local government authorities, sources from the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said. 

Captain Zarni Htun and four soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion No. 274 ordered four villagers from Bukphir, Tedim Township to carry an electric generator and their military rucksacks up to Darkhai village in Tonzang Township for about 12 hours in mid October. 

One of the villagers, who eye-witnessed the situation, told CHRO that the four Chin locals, aged between 20 and 30, did not receive any payment for their labor for the two days that they were forced to work.

In May this year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) made a visit to Hakha, Chin State, and conducted an awareness-raising on the issue of forced labour with the local authorities involving more than 160 officials from across the state. 

Around mid last month, Chin locals from villages sharing the road connecting Falam Town of Chin State and Vaphai, Mizoram State of India were forcibly asked to work on road maintenance and to repair bridges in preparation for an inspection visit by the Minister for Transport of Chin government. 

CHRO's sources revealed early last month that Burma Army soldiers based in Bukphir village, Tedim Township shot a pig belonging to a local farmer for their military ration. 

The soldiers were reported telling the Chin owner they took one-third of the meat for the cost of their bullet, adding: "They had mistaken the pig for a wild boar in the jungle."

Since July this year, soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion No. 304 on duty at the gate of Matupi Town, Matupi Township have been collecting 2,000 kyats from local travellers who do not bring their identity card with them on demand. 

One local Christian pastor, whose details are kept anonymous, was also forced to pay the demanded fees on 31 August 2011, according to a source from CHRO. 

Almost 92 percent of people surveyed in Chin State had been subjected to at least one incident of forced labour in the year before February/March 2010, according to a January 2011 report 'Life Under the Junta: Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity in Burma’s Chin State' by the Physicians for Human Rights.

Credit : Van Biak Thang

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