Men from villages in Loikaw Township, Karenni State dare not sleep at home because they are scared they will be taken away and forced to work as porters for the Burma Army.
U Nay San chairman of Nwar-La-Woe Village-Tract told Kantarawaddy Times that men have been sleeping in the fields or in different townships since 26 February.
A villager from Lel-Htwel Village in Loikaw Township said: “We dare not sleep at home because of the news that the army is arresting men and forcing them to be porters, so we are sleeping in fields. In the late evening, around 8 to 9pm, the whole village is so noisy [as men leave their homes] because people are saying that the army will come and arrest men and force them to be porters. [This has happened] since people from other places phoned some of the villagers and told them to be careful.”
After reports emerged of five men being arrested by the army in Lay-Phon-Laay village for forced labour Kantarawaddy News reporters went to investigate and found out the rumour was untrue.
However, the reporters observed that the men had run away from the village leaving only women and old people.
One of the reporters, Phe Bu said: “We heard that five people from Lay-Phon-Laay village were arrested. The villagers told us no one had been arrested there, but that the men did not dare sleep at their homes.”
Phyo Wai Aung, a reporter from Loikaw Town said: “Villagers from Kone-Thar village ran away from their homes last night. People from Pyar-Ka-Ne village are also scared.
“Some people from villages who have previously been arrested and forced to work as porters are scared because of this rumour, particularly as the government, political parties, organisations and administrative bodies have not yet announced whether it is true [or not]. So, people from Loikaw and Demawso townships are scared.”
U Nay San the chairman of Nwar-La-Woe Village-Tract said that village heads would request that the government and relevant departments give them news and tell them what the real situation is.
Translated by Aung Myat Soe English version written by Mark Inkey for BNI