Thursday, 13 August 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Officers from Burma’s border security force, Nasaka have been coercing villagers in Maungdaw Township to work on a road project along the Burma-Bangladesh border fence area in greater numbers following national elections earlier this month, said a village leader on condition of anonymity.

The village leader said that Lieutenant Aung Myo Sein from Nasaka headquarters in Maungdaw Township urged residents from Maung Ni Para who have prawn cultivation pond to provide 10 laborers daily to work on the road beginning on November 27, offering 2,000 kyats per day for each worker.

However, Zahir, 28, one village youth said that in practice the wages are rarely paid. He added that he and another Abdul Manan, 45, were detained and put in stocks for several hours after questioning an officer about the unpaid wages.

Villagers from other areas of Maungdaw Township have reported that Nasaka officers have forced residents to pay up to 10,000 kyats per household to fund the road project.

One village elder said that in some areas, one man from each household has been required to work on the road, while also supplying his own food for up to 10 days consecutively.

The elder added that funding to pay workers had already been disbursed by the general engineering (GE) team in charge of the road to Mazi (labor leaders) and the Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) at a rate of 2,000 kyats per day, but that most of the money never reached the laborers.

The Nasaka Area 6 commander in Maungdaw Township secured the contract for building the road, according to a Nasaka aide who declined to be named, and that the project had been divided into several plots.

The aide added, however, that while the commander received between 40,000 and 50,000 kyats per plot, only about 24,000 kyats were being paid out to relevant authorities for the plots.

In southern Maungdaw, Nasaka officers have reportedly forced residents to work on a border fence project, requiring villages to provide one member per household for the work since November 26 and threatening legal action for all who refuse.

A village elder in Maungdaw said that Major Aung Hinn Zaw, sector commander of Area 8, has initiated a dam project on the Myint Hlut stream for the purpose of prawn cultivation to benefit the border security force, but that he has told local residents that it will help with paddy cultivation for area villages and seeking laborers from among surrounding villages by threatening fines if anyone refuses.