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Forced labour on road reconstruction

Jul 18, 2008 (DVB), Residents and criminal suspects awaiting charge have been forced to do hard labour to repair the Butheetaung-Maung Taw highway in Arakan state, locals said.

The road was destroyed earlier this month by heavy rain.

A local resident said about 500 people had been made to work on the road reconstruction.

"About 500 detainees from Butheetaung prison, including criminal suspects who had not yet been charged, were forced to work on the reconstruction of the highway," the resident said.

"Nearby villages were also asked to contribute 10 people from each ward and those who could not go had to pay 2000 kyat."

Butheetaung-Maung Taw highway was destroyed by a mountain landslide early this month due to heavy rain in the area.

The road is a vital border trading route between Burma and Bangladesh and local authorities were ordered by the government to get it repaired as soon as possible.

Reporting by Naw Noreen

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