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More Forced Labor in Chin State, Burma

on September 8, 2011

The Chief Minister of Western Burma’s Chin State is forcing citizens to work for no pay, according to a recent press release by the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO). 

Over the last month, Chief Minister Hung Ngai ordered civil servants to spend their Saturdays cleaning areas of the capital city of Hakha, threatening to cut their salaries if they refused.  He also forced 100 other people to work, threatening them with a fine if they did not comply. The civil servants cleaned the construction site of a government guest house and a road leading to a military base.

“They called us for forced labor when we should be working for our own survival. I had to miss out on work for my livelihood that day because of the forced labor,” a local man told CHRO.

Forced labor is common in Chin State. In the report Life Under the Junta, PHR reported that 91% of households in Chin State had at least one family member that was forced to porter military supplies, sweep for landmines, build roads, or do other hard labor.

Although Burma is a signatory to the Forced Labor Convention, the government continues to commit this human rights violation. When household members are forced to work for the government, they have less time to spend earning wages or tending their fields resulting in less income and less food for their family. PHR condemns the recent incidents in Chin State and urges the Burmese government to change this policy.

Places: Burma