Military using slave labor to fortify crony coal project in Shan

Military using slave labor to fortify crony coal project in Shan

Approximately 100 civilians have been used as military porters to aid in the construction of a new military outpost in Naung Hee villact tract in Namsan township, the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) said on April 19.

Residents of Nam Mot village say they were ordered to send one person per household to partake in the project.

Those taken say they received orders to complete the structure within three days after 35 soldiers under the Burma Army’s 553rd Infantry Division hosted a meeting with a village head in late March.

The following day, a total of 106 villagers were forced to dig a trench, cut wood, and make fences.

The location of the new outpost and the coal mining project (Source: Shan Human Rights Foundation)

The outpost is said to be located around 15 miles from the village, and constructed on land grabbed from a local landowner and occupied by the army without consent or compensation.

Locals believe that the outpost will provide security for a coal mining project one mile from the site operated since November 2021 by the Mandalay-based Ngwe Yi Pale group of companies, a crony outfit which has faced resistance from the Shan State Army after partnering with the military to appropriate village land in the region.

The SHRF recently revealed that the commander of the military’s Northwest Command owns one-third of all shares in the mining project.

According to the human rights group, the on which coal is being mined was also forcibly seized by the company despite the protests of residents.

The groundwater and farmland in the area are said to be central to the livelihoods of local people.