Burma (Burma): New report reveals tens of thousands facing forced labour, beatings and theft

"Everything is upside down. People's properties and livelihoods are destroyed. They are so stressed, they have become like homeless beggars on the road. I am so angry about what the military is doing to our village." A 27-year-old Tavoyan woman whose farmland was confiscated by the military in May 2001.

Based on interviews with more than a hundred Burmese migrants in Thailand, Amnesty's report reveals an ongoing pattern of human rights violations.

These have contributed to almost one in six people in Burma suffering from inadequate nutrition and a third of Children's rights suffering chronic malnourishment, according to United Nations data.

Some villagers are caught in the middle between the Burmese military and rebel armies, with both groups demanding food and money from them.

Many are forced to flee Burma to seek work in Thailand, as they are unable to produce enough food to feed their families.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Stephen Bowen said:

"The Burmese military is taking men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights away to build roads and carry heavy loads, often meting out severe beatings when they cannot do what is demanded of them.

"Burmese soldiers are forcing a population that is already undernourished to hand over food, land and labour to feed the army. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee Burma as a result.

"The situation is completely unacceptable – the army must stop living off the villagers and allow them to earn a living."

Village heads are also forced to provide entertainment for soldiers. Several interviewees explained that village headman were forced to purchase Johnnie Walker red label whiskey for the military for their "parties" and to procure good-looking single young Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights to sing and to serve senior military leaders.

One headman interviewed by Amnesty was forced to procure alcohol and young Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights on a weekly basis until he fled from his home in January 2004.

He reported that the village headmen were sent back from these parties at 2am but the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were forced to remain with the officers. The young Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights returned home later, but did not report what had happened to them.

The report Burma: Leaving Home shows how the Burmese military are exploiting the ethnic minority civilian population in an effort to break their supposed support for ethnic minority armed opposition groups.

The situation has worsened since the authorities started requiring the army to be self-sufficient.

The report's main findings include:

  • Widespread use of men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights as forced labour for portering, construction work and farming
  • Mass forced evictions, land confiscations and house destruction without compensation
  • Beating and killing of civilians forced to carry rice or other supplies for the military, if they are unable to keep up with the work rate
  • Regular harassment, abuse and arbitrary detention of civilians by the military
  • Stealing by the military of villagers' crops, livestock, household possessions, and money leaving thousands without adequate shelter and food
  • Government restrictions on the ability of UN and other agencies to assist the population by denying access to rural areas and particularly the ethnic minority border regions

Amnesty International calls on the Burmese authorities to immediately halt the practice of forced labour.

The organisation also demands an end to the evictions of civilians without due process and the requisition of personal property regardless of the needs of civilians.

View the full report online...

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