Graveyards, Not Labor Camps
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Graveyards, Not Labor Camps


By Bo Kyi AUGUST, 2007 - VOLUME 15 NO.8


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The Taungswun/Mupalin Quarry in Mon State is notorious for the number of prisoners beaten to death by guards and suicides by jumping into the quarry pit.

In order to avert international pressure, the then State Law and Order Restoration Council, Burma’s ruling body, issued two secret directives in 1995 concerning the use of forced labor o­n development projects. Directive No.125 instructed all State/Division Law and Order Restoration Councils to stop using unpaid labor in national development projects. It stipulated that “in obtaining the necessary labor from the local people, they must be paid their due share.” Directive No. 125 also instructed local authorities to “avoid undesirable incidents,” so as not to cause “misery and suffering to the people in rural areas.”

Directive No. 82 instructed the Rangoon Division Law and Order chairman and the Ministry of Agriculture “to stop the practice of obtaining labor from the local people without monetary compensation” in the construction of dams in Rangoon Division.

Despite legal restrictions o­n the practice and increasing pressure from the International Labour Organization, Burma’s ruling junta continues to use forced labor throughout Burma.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has not been allowed to visit prisons and labor camps in Burma since 2005, and conditions for prisoners are getting worse every day. The death toll in labor camps has risen because of torture, exhaustion, malnutrition and the complete absence of medical treatment.

Labor camps have become graveyards for prisoners. Those without the resources to buy their safety are afraid of going to a labor camp because they know they will likely never again return to the society they left.

Bo Kyi is joint-secretary of Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)



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