Mohyin residents forced into construction work

Jan 2, 2009 (DVB), Local people from Mohyin township in northern Burma's Kachin State have been forced to take part in the construction of an artillery base and radar station.

The base is being built six miles away from Bilu, a local resident said.

"From Bilu, you have to cross paddy fields and climb the mountains," he said.

"Roads are being built and members of the GE corps can be seen by the roadsides."

It is not known which artillery battalion is leading the construction of the base.

Local residents from Bilu and the surrounding villages have been forced to contribute one person from each household to work on the project, the resident said.

"When we told them we could not come they told us to give money, so I had to pay, several times," he said.

"The amount of money I had to pay was not the same each time. I have had paid more than 8000 kyat so far."

Another local resident told DVB that farmlands had also been confiscated for the project.

Military analyst Htay Aung of the Thailand-based Network for Democracy and Development confirmed that the Burmese army has been expanding its air defence system throughout the country.

"Radar stations built during the Burma Socialist Programme Party era are outdated as they cannot detect incoming airplanes from a distance," he said.

"The new ones are more advanced and have a longer range."

Equipment and technology needed for the radar stations have been bought from Russia and the stations have been built under the close instruction of Russian experts.

Reporting by Arnt Phone Myat

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