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NLD Statement 69 translated

National League for Democracy
No:(97/B), West Shwegondine Road
Bahan Township, Bahan

STATEMENT 69(6/99)(translation)

1. Information has been received about the forced labour demanded by the
Township PDC for the excavation of a silted up dry creek (one and a half
miles in length) in Pegu Division, Pegu District which runs through
Moutala village and connects with Thanatpin creek at Kyone-jou.

2. Cultivators and labourers from the villages of Saing-te , Moutala,
Oh-pho, Ka-twin-chan, Shwebo-su, Taungthu-su and Pjun-pauk have had to
give forced labour. The ward PDCs demanded that every household complete the 
digging of 10 pits each since the 30th April 1999.

3. This was how the operation began. The villagers were notified by the
respective village PDCs that on the morning of the 30th April at the
sound of the beating of an iron bar, villagers would have to assemble
with their mattocks, chopping hoes, and baskets at the designated area
where their forced labour was required. Penalty for non-compliance was
fixed at 200 Kyats per pit which would amount to Kyats 2000/- for 10
pits (half the amount was to be paid in advance). They were warned that
consequences for non-compliance or non-payment would be dire meaning
that action would be taken against them in accordance with the
provisions of the Village Act.

4.  This being the commencement of the rainy season, cultivators are
busy preparing for the cultivation of their crops. Most of the villagers
are daily wage earners having to cope with soaring prices (poorest
quality rice costing Kyats 100/- one pyi and Kyats 640/- a viss of oil).
Problems and hardships keep mounting on them from day to day.

5.  At Oh-pho village, the cost of not supplying labour is Kyats 3000/-
per household. Information received is that every household in the town
of Pegu had to contribute Kyats 600/- for the construction of a moat and
that the last date for such payment was 15 May 99.

6. We strongly urge the authorities holding power to have compassion on
people who are facing such physical and mental hardships and to refrain
from making such demands on the poverty stricken villagers.  We denounce
the practice of applying force and threats and the failure to appreciate
the surrounding circumstances of a given situation.

Central Executive Committee
National League for Democracy

2 June 1999.

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