PHOTO SET 2002-A: Forced Labour

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PHOTO SET 2002-A: Forced Labour

Published date:
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Forced labour is probably the most systematic and prevalent abuse committed by the SPDC against villagers throughout Burma. Village heads are ordered to provide labourers for building roads and other infrastructure, portering for the Army, constructing and maintaining Army camps, performing sentry duty at Army camps and along roads, farming for the Army and many other jobs. In addition, villagers must also use much of their time filling the constant demands from SPDC Army camps and authorities for large quantities of bamboo, roofing thatch, stones and gravel, logs, planks and other materials. Some of these materials are used for the construction and maintenance of roads, SPDC Army camps and other SPDC projects, while the rest is sold on the market for the personal profit of the Army officers. Villagers are not provided with tools or food to complete the work and are often treated brutally, some dying as a result. The labour takes them away from their livelihood and leaves them very little time to farm their fields or to earn a living. Whatever little money the villagers are able to get must be given to the SPDC to avoid having to go for the labour so they can do their own work. Village heads often receive demands from many different Army camps and SPDC authorities for various kinds of labour at the same time. Many villagers try to strike a balance by paying the 'fees' to avoid some of the labour while still regularly going for other forms of forced labour.