Army continues to demand that local residents work along gas pipeline in Thanbyuzayat township

November 17, 2009

HURFOM, Thanbyuzayat: Many villages  in southern Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, who are located along the Kanbauk Myaing Kalay gas pipeline, have once again been ordered to perform pipeline maintenance by the Burmese Army battalions in change of the project’s security.  

According to HURFOM’s field reporter, on the 13th of November of this year roughly 70 villagers, from 4 different villages located along the pipeline in Thanbyuzayat Township, were ordered to commence working along the pipeline. The villagers have been charged with building fences for the pipeline and reburying areas of pipeline that had become exposed by heavy downpours during the recently-ended rainy season.

U Tar*, a 50 year-old Karen resident of Waekhami village. told HURFOM’s field reporter that the headman of his village received the orders from gas pipeline security battalions Infantry Battalion (IB) No 62, and Artillery Regiment No.315, to take responsibility for pipeline maintenance. In Waekhami village, every household has been ordered to provide one individual for pipeline labor. Each worker has also been commanded to supply his own materials for covering and fencing the pipeline, such as bamboo and coconut branches. Missing a day of pipeline labor results in a 3,000 kyat fine.

“We villagers have had to take responsibility for these kind of activities every single year [after rainy season ends] since the gas pipeline arrived [in 2001]. Even though we are busy on our farms we have to work on it [the pipeline] first,” said U Tar.

According to Mi Aye Kyi*, a Waeyet villager, both men and women from her village are being forced to work on the gas pipeline; many must bring their small children with them to the pipeline, since failure to arrive for a day of work means paying a fine of 3,000 kyat to Sergeant Sa Yar Kyi, from the Thanbyuzayat-based IB No. 62.

“Villagers in Waeyet have to work on the pipeline nearly every single month. Even though we pay for security, 2,000 kyat a month, every month we still have to work on it. This gas pipeline is a kind of hell for the villagers. Since it arrived [in 1995] it not only fails to benefit them, it also harms them,” complained a second Waryet resident.

*Name changed by editor.

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