Villagers in Mong Kung Township, southern Shan State were forced to provide wood and bamboo to government troops who are building a military camp on Loi Don mountain this week.
The Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) had clashes near Ham Ngai village tract—where Loi Tawng is located—in Mong Kung in late February. RCSS subsequently withdrew their troops from their base on Loi Don.
As the Burma Army prepares to build their own camp on the site of the former RCSS base, they have ordered villagers in both Ham Ngai and Ho Khe village tracts to send wood and 1,000 stalks of bamboo for its construction. They have also reportedly been forced to carry food rations for the Tatmadaw troops.
“For Ho Khe village, we have already sent 600 pieces of bamboo. We still have to send 400 more pieces of bamboo,” Sai Sam, who lives in Ho Khe, told SHAN. “It’s really difficult to cut down the bamboo plants and difficult to carry them to the army camp. We need manpower.”
He added that he doesn’t know when they will be able to bring the remaining bamboo required by the army, since the villagers involved are exhausted from transporting the previous 600 stalks and are taking time away from their own livelihoods to follow the soldiers’ orders.
Additionally, Ho Khe must have seven vehicles owned by villagers ready for military use each day, residents said. If soldiers need to buy food rations, they procure these vehicles.
“If they need them, they use them. It’s like portering,” Sai Sam said.
Locals have also reportedly been forced to work in the army camp on a daily basis or longer. Some have been called up to work for 10 days, after which they are allegedly allowed to return to their homes.