Thursday, 28 May 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Prisoners used as labourers from Buthidaung jail who have been working on the Maungdaw-Buthidaung Road in northern Arakan, Burma, have been afflicted by Malaria and are fatigued following forced labour to reconstruct the Maungdaw-Buthidaung Road as of July 9, by local authorities.   The prisoners have to work from 6 am to 6 pm at the work site. They are brought back to the jail precincts by vehicles. After having food at 10 am at the work site they are allowed to take rest till 1 pm. Food is sent from the jail and the prisoners work in civilian attire while the policemen stand guard.  But the work is hard and the food is insufficient as they are fed prison diet.  As a result, prisoners are suffering from malnutrition and are becoming weak. They are also afflicted by malaria as the work site is in the mountains. At present, nearly 100 prisoners are affected. They are not allowed treatment from out side doctors but get treated treatment in Buthidaung Jail.  Presently, 400 prisoners of 500 prisoners have been working on the road site. Though the authorities plan to ply cars on Maungdaw-Buthidaung Road as of July 25, they will not be able to do so because of a reduction in prison labourers.  Communication problems on the Maungdaw-Buthidaung road have led to a rise in price of essential commodities in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships. People from Maungdaw and Burthidaung Townships are facing a famine like situation.  Villagers of Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships now are apprehensive of being forced to work on the site as there is a shortage of prisoners to work on the road construction.  The Maungdaw-Buthidaung Road was badly damaged along with some bridges due to heavy rain in the first weekof July. The road is 16 miles long of which five miles have been totally damaged and vehicles are not able to ply on the road. Passengers are unable to travel and down from Maungdaw Town by car.  Villagers from both townships are also forced to repair the Maungdaw-Buthidaung Road without any support from the government. The road is a key transportation link between Buthidaung and Maungdaw Townships.