No hope for reform on Burma's slave railway
Sunday 10 September 1995
Funded by Total of France and Unocal of the US, the pipeline, cutting across rebel Mon territory, will provide Thailand with 525 million cubic feet of gas per day under a 30-year contract worth pounds 250m per year for the military government, the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or Slorc.
The 110-mile long railway will facilitate the deployment of Slorc troops in the rebel zone, but the more immediate concern for the Mon is the forcible relocation or destruction of their villages, and the forced conscription of civilian labour. The New Mon State Party estimates that up to 150,000 people were used in last year's dry season on the construction of the railway. Conscription involves the arrival of Slorc troops at Mon villages and the demand for one person per household. If no man is available, they take a woman. If no woman, a child.
At Payaw refugee camp there are plenty among the 3,500 people to testify to Slorc atrocities. Jo Sein, aged 40, spent 12 hours every day digging up to 20 feet for the laying of the track in the mountainside. He escaped during the night, risking his life, arriving at Payaw after a three-day walk through jungle.
Nai Sor Teh, aged 35, worked for a month on a different site chopping trees. "Those not wanting to work from illness were beaten with rifle butts." But the workers, he said, had no toilet facilities and fell ill due to the lack of sanitation. There were medical supplies, but only for the troops. Workers had to bring food to supplement the few rations shared between them daily. "The Slorc are dividing families; they take from us the chance to earn a living." Nai Sor Teh says that the labourers encouraged children at the site to rest, but the soldiers beat them and ordered them to work. Some children were as young as 12.
At the NMSP Tavoy District camp, Nai Ban Ya Mon interprets the softly spoken words of a shy 21-year old woman, Mi Sheinta, from Demokran on the west coast. She said soldiers arrived at her village, and ordered people to leave their homes after throwing their possessions into the sea at gunpoint. Two village heads were beaten for resisting and the village was burnt to the ground.
Thailand's policy of "constructive engagement" with Burma continues to operate on the basis of economic interest. For the Mon, civil liberties are clearly connected to trade and investment. One of their concerns is to link human rights issues to the broader economic ones.
Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts
Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title
- 1 Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration
- 4 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 5 Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver allegedly kicks gay couple off for kissing
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...
£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...