Township youth blackmailed into joining USDA

Feb 8, 2008 (DVB), Residents of Ramree township in Arakan state have complained that local authorities are refusing to approve road repairs unless young people join the Union Solidarity and Development Association.

Minister of transportation Thein Swe and the local military divisional commander raised 7.5 million kyat to fund repairs to the road leading to Gon Yan Taung pagoda, a township resident said.

"The military divisional commander and minister of transportation raised 7.5 million kyat in funding to make life more comfortable for pilgrims," said the resident.

"Then about one month later the township authorities announced that they are not going to release the money unless all the youth in the township join the USDA," he said.

The resident said that young people were unwilling to join the USDA after its involvement in brutally cracking down on monks, students and other protestors in the September demonstrations last year.

"The USDA has never done anything good for the country, and nobody wants to join them," he said.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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