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Jan 8, 2008 (DVB), Residents of Taunggok township, Arakan state, are collecting signatures for a petition to the International Labour Organisation to draw attention to forced guard duties imposed on them by authorities.
After the Burmese regime's brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in September, activists continued their campaign in other ways, including by distributing pamphlets and writing graffiti in the streets.
In an effort to stop these activities, local authorities have been ordering township residents to take part in guard duties since the start of December.
Households who do not send anyone to do the guard duties are faced with a 10,000 kyat penalty payment, which means that some who cannot afford the fine have to send female family members.
Other local residents who already work full-time during the day are forced to carry out the guards duties during the night as well if they are unable to pay the fine.
Taunggok township National League for Democracy has also been campaigning for residents to sign a petition calling for the release of two of its members.
A Taunggok NLD member said that 7000 people had already added their signatures to a petition calling for the release of township party secretary U Khin Hla and deputy secretary Ko Min Aung.
Any victim of forced labour in Burma has the right to complain to the ILO through the ILO liaison office in Rangoon.
Reporting by Naw Say Phaw