Major Khin Maung Ye, LIB 266, ordered the three villages: Saikah, Ruakhua and Ruabuk to present one person per family with their own tools and food in reconstructing road between Sopum and Sihhmuh village. The villagers have started reconstructing the road since 23rd September because they did not dare to resist the order. As most the Chin people are farmers they have no time to work in the fields.Escape in fear of arrest: Hre Ling and Sui Ceu had escaped to Bualpi village, Mizoram State of India when a troop led by Major Khin Maung Ye came to arrested them. The army accused them to be supporters of CNF. Later on, friends and relatives send their families to them on September 8. Sui Ceu has 4 children and Hre Ling has 5 children. They said ” It is not easy for us to depend on friends for our living in Bualpi”.
SPDC USED FORCED LABOR TO REPAIR ROAD
1. (Date of receiving report: 30th September 1999)
On 25/9/1999, Burmese army Company 3 Commander of 268 Battalion stationed at Tibual Camp, Falam Township ordered 20 villages along Falam-Rihkhawdar road to repair the road (which extends up to the Indian border). (See attached order)The number of laborers from each village ranges from 15to 30 depending on the size and the population of the village. They had to bring their own tools and ration for three days. They were not paid for their labor. The soldiers warned them that any village that failed to contribute “unpaid laborers” will be considered supporters of CNF, and that severe action will be taken against them. No village dare nor defy the order.
( Order Translation )
Impression of round seal of the 268 Light Infantry Battalion Company 3
Village Peace and Development Council
Hnathial village (Old)
Subject: Invitation for ” voluntary labor”
Regarding the above subject, you are hereby informed that you organize 15 adult men from your village to volunteer for the reconstruction of the motor road between Falam and Rihkhawdar, which was damaged as a result of erosion and heavy landslide during the monsoon. The heavy downpour had also caused flood that damaged bridges. Led by yourself, 15 volunteers from your village have to bring hoes, shovels,saws, harrows and other tools, which will be required for the road construction. You also have to bring rations for three days during your work. You have to reach Hmunthar village to notify yourselves by 28 September 1999. Defaulter village will be considered as active supporters of CNF and severe action will be taken for defiance of order.
A new army camp in Lentlang
The villagers around Lentlang are now facing problems, as they do not have 800 kyats to give Myo Kyaw, the commander of Battalion 268, Company 2,based in Falam, Chin State. He made an order throughout the area that one person from each family must see him or pay the fine in his camp which he ordered the villagers to build on September 1, 1999. Many of the villagers were too busy to see him timely, as it was the crucial period for their farm works.
MEETING FOR VARIOUS KINDS OF WORKS
Captain Min Zaw, Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 55 (Ngapali battalion), No.3 company commander, based in Arakan State, took a position as camp commander of Shinletwa, Paletwa Township, Chin State on July 25 1999. On Sunday of 1st August 1999 he summoned a meeting of 9-village tracts in the area. Knowing the fact that Chin people are Christian and observe the Sundays, the army personnel intentionally summoned a meeting and forced the villagers to serve as porters on Sundays. In the meeting, they ordered villagers to build a house for the army at the center of every village around Shinletwa. The 9-village tracts to be completed within one month. In addition, they ordered villagers to deliver(4′ by 2′) mat and 8-pieces (18′ by 6′) of woods to build woodenboxes to the army camp before the end of September without fail. The commander fixed the price of chicken at 300 kyats per viss (about1.5 kg, actual price for one viss of chicken is Kyat 750). They ordered the villagers to deliver only hens since those are tastier than cocks.Capt. Zaw Min also restricted the villagers not to sell rice anywhere except to Sinbowah and Sinletwa villages where there are army camps. Rice is the sole commodity of the farmers for their earnings. He also made a restriction that no household in the village should sell rice more than three times ayear. The soldiers depend freely on the rice of the villages whenever they go for patrolling. Capt. Min Zaw made an order that 18 people, two each from the 9villages, must be reserved to serve the soldiers. Six villages have to serve, in a routine-wise, in the army camp for 7-days a week for emergency needs and to serve as porters. The villagers who serve in the camp have to bring their own food. The commander announced that anyone missing in the camp would cause a fine of 1500 kyats. Since the villagers were busy with their farm work they had to arrange the money by selling rice or cattle and pay the money to the commander. Now it is said that the commander is in full pocket with the money he took from the villagers. The commander also ordered the villagers to reconstruct the roads and clean even dried leaves and branches on the roads between villages. All the VPDC’s Presidents are forced to attend the meeting everymonth. The place of the meetings is 5-day walk (to and fro) from their own villageand all the expenses(including foods) are also incurred by themselves.
Civilians engaged in road construction as forced laborers
Date of interview : 4.7.99
Name : Ngun Hmung (Village tract chairman)
Age : 40
Gender : Male
Occupation : Farmer
Village : Khua Bung (A), Thantlang Township, Chin State
Nationality : Chin
Religion : Christian
Family member : 8 including 6 Children
By using the name of ” Border Trade between India and Burma” the military government of Burma, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), constructed roads merely for better links between army camps in the border areas. The junta forced the people to construct road between Hriphi army camp and newly constructed Vuangtu camp, which is 13 miles in distance. One thousands villagers from the surrounding 30 villages were working for this construction as forced laborers. Moreover, these laborers had to carry their own tools, equipment and ration supplies during the road construction, which lasted from 1st February to the first week of June. The soldiers guarded the laborers and threatened that the entire concerned villages will be punished if anyone from any village ran away from the work site. The laborers were forced to work from dawn to dusk and were allowed to sleep only by their respective work sites where the soldiers assigned them. No medical treatment was given to the sick during the construction. The army allotted the work to each village and the villagers were forced to finish their allotted work before the first week of June that started from March 23. Major Khin Maung Ye, from Company 2 of Hriphi Camp and 2nd Battalion Commander of LIB 268 stationed in Falam, was directed to supervise the construction. Known among his inferiors who helped supervise the construction were Sergeant Nyo Win, Corporal Win Kyiang and Corp. SoeMyint. Firing 5 or 6 shots in the air the Major would often threaten the tired laborers with dire consequences if they did not follow his instruction. Therefore no one dare to complain their tiredness and had to stay calm. Sometimes the laborers were even robbed of their rations such as rice, dried meats that they brought from the village. The soldiers also stole five hoes from the laborers, which were brought from ZaBung village. Moreover, 4 persons from each village along Thantlang and Hriphi were forced to carry an empty diesel tank (50 gallons-capacity) from one village to another – any group that could not carry the tank were punched and beaten. The age of the laborers from each village ranged from 67 years to 15 years, including school children. Among the laborers who worked in the road construction were 3 elderly men, over 65 years, 3 widows and 5 school children from ZaBung village; 4elderly men (around age 50) from Zephai village; 1 elderly man and 4 middle school students from Nga Lang village and people from different age group even children and some Christian religious teachers from Hriphi village. While working on the construction, Ni Awi, a 23-year-old youth, son of Nun Hei from Hriphi village fell off the wall of the road and broke his right arms. Ram Cung, a 17-year-old youth, son of Hei Mang received serious chest and back injuries from the same incident. No medical treatment whatsoever was given to the victims. The newly constructed road had crossed private farms owned by HramThang, Sui Mang, Lian Te and Hre Cem of Hriphi (B) village were destroyed. The farmers received no compensation so far. These farmers are likely to face serious difficulties in the coming year, as their farms were destroyed without compensation. According to a reliable information, despite reportedly sanctioning Kyats 500000 and 140000 worth diesel for bulldozer. However, nothing was spent for the construction, instead forced labor was used. After completing the construction the laborers were forced to work on the army farms.
Force to construct police station and army camp
Name : Zamulaage : 35
Gender : Male
Occupation : Farmer ( presently Chairman of Shiao village tract )
Religion : Christian
Family members : 6-Children
The police station in charge and army/company commander of Shinletwa, Paletwa township, jointly, forced the villagers to construct police station and army camp. The villagers were divided into two groups. One group was assigned to build police station and the other was assigned to construct army camp. Para village, Shewlike village, Yayitaung village, Gonepin village, Pondmao village, Kyupyahtin village, Pyiwa village and Khone village were assigned to build army camp. Under a watchful eyes of the guards the villagers were forced to work from morning 6:00 until 5: pm without taking rest. No medicine was provided for the sick from the authorities. At night the villagers had to sleep at the place where the authority had specified. The villagers were warned that anyone who escape from the work field would be severely punished. The villagers had no time even for bathing. “The two constructions simultaneously started in February of 1999. As our group could not complete the construction in February they told us to come back in March. However, I could not go back to the construction because I was busy with my farm works. So when I went for the meeting in the beginning of May, the commander questioned me why I did not show up in the construction work and I was kept under arrest ( kept in the army camp). I requested the commander to allow me to stay in the village because I was so uncomfortable to stay in the army camp” said Zamula. He also added, “even though the commander allowed me to stay in the village, I had to give my signature twice a day at the camp. Moreover, the authority asked me to pay Kyats 500 for the cost of papers and pens”.
Collecting Cane Sticks From Villagers for Army
Name : Ngo Sa Age : 45 Gender : Male Religion : Christian Occupation : Farmer / vallage in charge of Tlaupi village Family members : 8 members(6 children, husband and wife)
Major Hla Ko Oo from LIB 740 ( Myaut Oo battalion ) of Arakan State was appointed as the company commander of Shinletwa army camp in Paletwa township, Chin State. He called the villages in the area to attend the meeting every month. In Shinletwa area there are 9 village tracts: Para tract, Shewlake, Ponemoo, Gonepyine, Shiao, Patheinplan, Maobin, Sineowa and Shinletwa.
In January of 1999 Major Hla Ko Oo, camp commander, summoned villages’ Chairmen and Secretaries of the 9 village tracts for a meeting. He ordered to bring 1,500 cane sticks from each village tract to the army camp in February. The total number of 13,500 cane sticks had to be sent by the 9 village tracts.
The canes were carried through riverine route to Akyap and sold them at 50 Kyats per cane.They were not paid for their labors at all.They just did it for the army’s profit. The forest where the cane plants are available is very far away from the village, and therefore they were not able to get them. Since the villagers are very poor, they had to sell their domestic animals and even rice which they kept for themselves to pay the army because they were not able to provide the canes which the army demanded. “That’s why I paid Kyats10,000 which I collected from the villagers for 500 cane at the rate of Kyat 20 per cane to company commander on 22 March 1999” said Mr. Ngo Sa, the incharge of Tlaupi village . The consequence of such kind of inhuman treatment by the army, the villagers now have faced shortage of food for the year to come
In the end part of March 1999, Major Hla Ko Oo was transfered and Capt. Than Naing Oo from LIB 233 Bothitaung Battalion replaced him as company commander. Capt. Than Naing Oo followed the footsteps of the previous commander. He summoned for a meeting every month. “He ordered us to give Kyats 4,000 instead of 200 canes. So I went to the army camp and paid it. A total which I paid was Kyats 14,000” said Mr. Ngo Sa.
KYATS 20,000 PER VILLAGE TRACK FOR ARMY HQR SCHOOLS
In June 1998 SPDC issued the order to close down all self supported private schools in Chin State. While ordering to close down self supported private school in Chin State, the SPDC army forced Chin villagers to pay for construction of army Headquarters School. Lt. Col Saw Thun, the commander of LIB 538 ordered 18 villages that under the command of Sinletwa army camp in Paletwa township has to contribute 18-ft. long 400 poles of bambo and 100 cubic feet wood to construct Battalion 538 Headquarters School before November 15 1998. The army warned and threatened the villagers that they had to pay three times if they could not meet the requirement before the dead line. It was harvesting period and the villagers were busy with their farm works. When they pleaded to the army for forgiveness, the battalion commander told them to pay Kyat 20,000/- per each village tract. There are 6-village tracts.
( Excerpt from Interview with College Students, January 1999 Issue )
Question : Did you have to do voluntary labour while you were student?
Ngheta : The Let Pan Chaung villagers are forced to work on road construction every year. The villagers have to repair all the roads linking the various villages in the township. They also have to repair the bridges. This work is usually taking place in the summer. Every villager ends up doing one day of road work per week for 4 or 5 weeks every year. Then, in the rainy season, we have to repair the dam and canals for irrigation. There is little rain in Kaley area, so the villagers have to use an irrigation system to grow their crop. The dam is built with stone and mud, so it often breaks during the monsoon, and we have to go and repair it. I often missed school or arrive late in class, because that dam is quite far from our village. I am the only young man in my family, so I always have to go. The labour is ordered by Village PDC, and everyone failing to go to labour is fined 100 Kyats.
Muana : In Tahan quarter, the largest forced labour projects have now been completed: the Kaley to Gangaw railway and the Ye Chaung hydro dam. Since then, people are ordered to clean the ground in front of their house and to paint the façade, the fences and the trees around it whenever a high-level leader of SPDC is coming to Kaley. This is happening 4 or 5 times a year. We were also forced to build a platform in front of our house because the main road is a little higher. Also every household had to build a drain for sewerage water in front of his house. The Township PDC gave the measurement and ordered it to be built with brick and cement, but they did not provide the material.