Dozens of Villagers Forced to Porter in Three Pagodas Pass

June 8th, 2011

By Independent Mon News Agency – Dozens of ethnic Karen from Aplon and Myaing Thayar villages in Three Pagodas Pass were forced to porter on June 6th by Burmese government troops.

The government troops are using prisoners for portering at their military column in Karen State ( Photo: FBR )The government troops are using prisoners for portering at their military column in Karen State ( Photo: FBR )

These government troops, from the Light Infantry Battalion No. 373, commanded by the Western Command in Arakan State, took 10 villagers from Myaing Thayar village and forced these villagers to carry backpacks and baskets to Aplon village.

Explained by an Aplon villager by phone to the Independent Mon News Agency on Tuesday, once the troops and porters arrived in Aplon village, the [LIB No. 373] troops took 24 more porters in order to send them to Mae Sa Lee village.

The Aplon villager further explained that some porters were forced to walk ahead of the troops [as human land mine triggers], while some porters, including women and older men were placed in the middle of the battalion.

Villagers were released from portering in Mae Sa Lee village at 6 pm on June 6th.

The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) Brigade 6 ambushed the LIB No. 373 on June 6th between the villages of Myaing Thayar and Thet-Kae, killing a captain from the LIB No. 373, whose name has not been confirmed yet.

“We used a mine to kill him,” said a captain from KNLA Brigade 6. In fact, the KNLA used a trip wire that set off the mine when the troops touched it.

The LIB No. 373 had been commanded to crackdown on KNLA troops after the Three Pagodas Pass Military Intelligence office was bombed on June 5th, killing one military intelligence officer, one nine-year old girl, and wounding four people.

Fighting between the KNLA and Burmese government troops is a regular occurrence in the Three Pagodas Pass area because it is a stronghold of the Karen armed group.

Government troops often use villagers in the surronding areas of Three Pagodas Pass to carry supplies or traverse the jungle roads.

Ten people were also conscripted for portering by the LIB No. 563 on May 30th to carry rice to Mae Kha Sa village, six kilometers from Three Pagodas Pass.

Despite the Burmese government singing an agreement with the International Labor Organization to eliminate the use of forced labor, even the newly instated Burmese government disregards the agreement.

Burmese rights groups, based along the Thai-Burmese border, have also 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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