Chauk villagers forced to work for army officer

Jan 1, 2009 (DVB), An army officer has been forcing villagers from Swepaukkan tract in Chauk township to leave their farm work to attend meetings and run errands for him, a local resident said.

Sergeant major Naing Htoo came to Chauk from Rangoon in July to take charge of a relay station of the state-owned Myawaddy broadcasting service.

He has regularly summoned local people who were busy works on their land to attend ‘special’ meetings and intimidated those who could not come or arrived late, the resident said.

"He is doing nothing for the peace and development of the region," the resident said.

"He ordered each village to bring him ten bundles of bamboo to the base to build his poultry farm. If the bamboo was crooked, he told them to replace it," he said.

"He has also demanded gravel and sand from them. He forces motorcyclists to transport him wherever he wants to go to without even paying for fuel," he went on.

"People have to carry out his demands though they are busy themselves."

The Chauk resident said the officer had also told villagers to organise festivals at monasteries with gambling centres.

"They even have to buy alcohol for him or oblige him when he wants to have a good time," he said.

"People are afraid of him because he is an army officer. People are even afraid to hear his voice."

With money scarce in the villages because of low crop yields this year, many villagers could not afford to contribute and faced intimidation from the officer, the resident said.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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