Man crushed during forced construction work

Feb 9, 2009 (DVB), A 50-year-old man from Kyauktalone village in Bago division was crushed to death on 6 February when the roof of a pit where he had been forced to work collapsed on him.

According to lawyer Aye Myint of the Guiding Star legal aid group, Sarlu was crushed while collecting earth from a pit in Thabyetan village tract, Daik-U township, for the construction of a village school.

The government had given village authorities 5.6 million kyat for the project, but 600,000 of this had to be given to the township's chief education officer and other officials to secure permission for the school building.

Village chair Aung Thu and teacher Aung Tun ordered villagers to contribute to the cost of the school, and forced those who could not pay to work on the building site.

Aye Myint said 70 households in the village were each forced to pay 100,000 kyat, or 30,000 less for poorer families, and those who could not afford to pay the money were ordered to carry sand, earth and stone on the building site.

"On 6 February 2009, a Shan-Karen named Sarlu had to volunteer because he was poor," Aye Myint said.

"At 5pm, he went down to the pit to fetch earth, it caved in and he was crushed by stones," he said.

"His legs and ribs were broken and he died when he reached the clinic."

Sarlu's family has received no support from the authorities since his death.

Aye Myint said he would continue to fight for justice for Sarlu and his family.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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