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Situation on the SLORC soldiers(2-2
Documented by Hsaw Wah Deh-FTUB(TUR/HR)
Situation of soldiers
Non commissioned officers' salaries vary from 600 Kyats to 1,500 Kyats,
which is obviously not sufficient for a soldier even with issued rations.
There are schools and clinics in most of the battalions for soldiers'
The SLORC creates projects to get more income for its army such
as-agriculture and farming projects, baking bricks, crushing stones,
working on roads and rail roads constructions and annexing profitable
factories (garment and cement factories).
The army owned rice fields, bean fields, rubber plantations and sugar cane
plantations can be seen everywhere. Because of the lack of the agriculture
knowledge, local villagers are forced to grow and maintain the plants.
However, the profit is not shared among NCOs and the villagers who take
care of the plants. It is completely controlled by commanders of
battalions. A rubber plantation field owned by the LIB. 205 near Thaton
was sold to the drug lord Khun Sa in 1997, but soldiers received nothing.
Some battalions baked 1 million to 1.5 millions of bricks annually and sold
bricks to construction sites at 5 Kyats per brick. Raw materials and work
force are free but the profit is mostly for high ranking officials. The
LIB. 406 from Tenisserim division baked 1.2 millions of bricks a year and
only distributed 100 Kyats a month to its soldiers and the rest of the
money is unknown.
After the international condemn of forced labor practice in Burma, the
junta changed to use soldiers instead of civilian labour on some of the
constructions. Civilians received nothing for their work contribution but
soldiers on construction sites get two extra uniforms, extra rations and
receive money for their work. LIB. 402, 406 and other battalions, which
worked on the Ye-Tavoy railroad, were paid. The soldiers received 200
Kyats for laying 100 cubic feet of stones and 140 Kyats for digging 100
cubic feet of the earth.
In fact, most of the soldiers are starving. They joined the army not for
their creed. They do not trust the leaders, because the leaders never
trust them. There is always dissatisfaction and mistrust between the
combat troops and the intelligence. However, although, there is no mutiny
yet, the junta is aware of that possibility in the army.
A former sergeant who served over 10 years in the SLORC army, now working
in Thailand expressed, "The army is good, the problem is there is no good
person in the army."
*SLORC State Law and Order Restoration Council, actually it changed name
as the State Peace and Development Council. Although the junta has changed
this name trying to change the image, as there is still no improvement on
peace and development, we still use SLORC in this article.
* LIB Light Infantry Battalion
* KNU Karen National Union