Fri 5 Oct 2012
Filed under: Inside Burma,Military,News
Since June, the new government has regained its full membership in the International Labor Organization (ILO) after promising to eliminate forced labor by 2015 and to put the military under civilian laws concerning forced labor, but rampant use of forced labor by the military is still being reported in several Shan State townships, according to Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) in its September report.
Altogether, at least 8 townships in Shan State are confirmed as forced labor users:
Civilians have been used to build and maintain infrastructure (motor-roads and rail-roads) and military facilities (bases, camps and strongholds). They are also used to serve as guides and porters with military patrols, and gathering firewood and fetching water for the military camps.
In Mongnai, villagers were told they had to do all these things because it was their “inherent responsibility” as civilian citizens. They were also warned not to say “unpaid forced labor” because they were only performing their duties.
In addition, the report says villagers in Mongnai and Mantong were also required to provide Burmese military bases with:
3 viss (1 viss = 1.6 kg) of chickens and 1 bottle of cooking oil every 5 days in Mongnai
2 chickens and a gallon of rice whiskey on a daily basis in Mantong
Article 359 of the 2008 constitution “prohibits forced labor except hard labor as a punishment for crime duly convicted and duties assigned thereupon by the state in accord with the law in the interests of the people.”
Hong Kong-based Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) had reported to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2009 that statements of fundamental rights of the citizens in the charter were “farcical and at every point qualified.”