May 31st, 2011
By Independent Mon News Agency – Ten people were conscripted for portering by the Burmese government-run Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 563 on May 30th in Three Pagodas Pass (TPP), near the Thai-Burma border.
From Jon Kwee and Ywa Thit villages, the ten villagers forced to porter included one ten-year-old child. These villagers were forced to carry rice to Mae Thasa village, six kilometers from TPP.
The group was arrested and forced to serve as porters when the LIB troops arrived at the villager’s rubber plantations and held the villagers at gunpoint.
Released last night, Min Naing (not his real name), explained that he was captured while he and an elderly man of 72 years were cooking rice at his rubber plantation, and that he was forced to porter one basket of rice weighing around 15 kilograms.
Two soldiers, pointing guns at them, told Min Naing and the older man to leave the rice, and go with them to porter.
Min Naing explained that the military separated the group into three parts: the front, middle, and end. Four porters were made to walk at the front, while three were put in the middle of the group, and three at the end. The military separated them so that it would be harder for them to run away.
“They placed four people at the front to cut bush in order to make the route,” said Min Naing. He explained that the military is afraid of the Karen troops and did not dare walk along the main route.
The Independent Mon News Agency has tried to identify the names of all the victims forced to porter, but has only been able to confirm four: Nai Anit, 18 years old, Nai Kalar, 50 years old, Nai Sai was 70 years old, and Nai Sein Kalar.
It took 14 hours for the porters to carry the rice through the mountainous route and arrive in Mae Thasa village.
LIB No. 563 is under the control Western Military Command in Arakhan State. It has been ordered to launch a military offensive against the Karen National Liberation Army Brigade 6.
LIB No. 563 just arrived in the TPP area on Sunday. Receiving information that the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army will seize TPP town once again, LIB No. 563 arrived to tighten security in the TPP area.
The Burmese government has signed an agreement with the International Labor Organization to eliminate the use of forced labor. However, Burmese rights groups, based along the Thai-Burmese border, have reported that the Burmese government troops continue to use civilians for forced labor and portering, carrying ammunition and food, while the Burmese army launches military operations in ethnic areas.
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