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Burma update news Aug 9

Burma Update News August 9, 1995 
Burmese Army Uses Civilians As Slave Labor In Shan State

Dawn Gwin(ABSDF), August 9 - 

Thousands of villagers in
Shan State are being forced to re-pair Aung Ban - Loikaw railway line
since last month after it was destroyed by train accident during last
year.  The villagers from Pae Khone and Paing Laung township,
south-eastern part of Shan State have been forced to re-construct the 260
feet-long railway line.  According to a source, about 50 villagers from
each village are ordered to contribute their labor for five days to
re-construct the railway line from 7 am to 4 pm except 10 minutes brake
after every hour.  The villagers also have to bring their own food.  To
improve the Burmas pre-colonial time of infra-structure, the Burmese
military regime are using hundred of thousands of civilians as slave labor
through out the country.  Burmas poor transportation and lack of basic
infra-structure are part of the reasons that foreign investors are
reluctant to jump into Burma.  To improve the basic infra structure in
Burma as soon as possible, the Burmese army are using civilians as slave
labor.  Several thousands civilians from slave labor camps especially from
Mon State had escaped into Thailand during the past six months.  Soldiers
from Light Infantry Division 336, police officers and members of the Union
Solidarity and Development Association(USDA) in Pae Khone and Paing Laung
township are guiding the villagers at the railway line construction site
for fear that they might run away, the source added.  According to one
eye-witness, many villagers were being taken as porters for the military
partrol unite in Shan State after their 5 days of labor contribution had
finished.  About one million villagers in Shan State were forced to build
106 km long Aung Ban- Loikaw railway line in 1992 and it was officially
opened during 1993.  About 70 villages in the areas were also forced to
relocate in order to give the way to build the railway line.  Last than
one year after the line was opened, a passenger train was run out of the
railway truck, killing hundreds of people on the train and destroyed some
parts of the line.  Because of the villagers were forced to contribute
their labor, they were not thinking about safety and quality of the
railway line but they were only thinking about to finish the line as soon
as possible, according to the source.  End 
ABSDF News Agency