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Briefing: Forced Labour in Chin State and Sagaing Region, 2011 – 2012

By Chin Human Rights Organization  •  August 27, 2012

From January 2011 to date, CHRO has documented 20 separate incidents of forced labour, some involving orders to multiple villages.  50 percent of the incidents involved orders from the Burma Army (typically portering), and the other half were orders from the local authorities (typically road construction, planting jatropha, and other forms of manual labour).

In May 2011, the International Labour Organization  (ILO) held an official awareness-raising workshop in Hakha, the capital of Chin State, involving more than 160 officials, including administrators, judges, police and Burma Army personnel.  This was the first official workshop of its kind held in Chin State and an important step towards tackling the issue of forced labour in the area.  At the time of writing CHRO has documented 12 separate incidents of forced labour since the workshop took place, 50 percent portering exacted by Burma Army soldiers and the other half by civilian authorities, including the Chief Minister of Chin State.

At the time of writing, CHRO has not documented any incidents of portering or other forms of forced labour exacted by the military in Chin State in 2012.  However, as noted above, the poor infrastructure in Chin State makes it very challenging to collect timely information and much of rural Chin State is very remote and difficult to access; it is therefore very possible that portering or other forms of forced labour exacted by the military has taken place which CHRO has been unable to document.  The lack of documentation of forced labour exacted by the military in 2012 should not be interpreted as evidence of systemic change in the behaviour of the military in Chin State.  However, CHRO recognizes that it may be an early indication of efforts on the part of the military – under significant pressure from the ILO – to eradicate the practice of portering and other forms of forced labour.  As yet, such efforts are not irreversible and pressure must be sustained to ensure systemic changes in the behaviour of the military.

Download the full briefing here.

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