Saturday, 06 March 2010 11:48 Kyaw Kha
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - At least 100 people in southern Burma’s Mon State have fled to regions controlled by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) after local army authorities attempted to force them to join a peoples’ militia, according to Mon humanitarian workers.
Zaw Min Oo, Secretary of Mon Rescue, on Friday told Mizzima that several people are continuing to flee into NMSP-controlled areas in Mon State hoping to avoid forced recruitment into local militias.
“Local armies forced the people to join the peoples’ militia, demanding 70,000 kyats (USD 70) as a monthly fee from those who refused to join. So, people can no longer bear the situation and are fleeing,” he explained.
According to him, since February 22nd people have been moving into a NMSP-controlled area in Daway District, near the Thai-Burmese border.
The NMSP, which has a ceasefire agreement with the junta, have reportedly begun settling the villagers.
“Now NMSP local officials are relocating these people by giving them a place to live and a plot to work on. It is no refugee camp,” elaborated a rescue worker.
An editor of the exile-based Independent Mon News Agency, Nai Kasauh Mon, said that in order to effectively control the Mon and Karen ethnic regions, Burmese soldiers are beginning to form militias, as military campaigns against ethnic minorities have failed to quiet the restive populations.
However, the army as an institution does not support the militia movement, he added.
“Militia members are used as informants for the activities of Mon and Karen armed groups and are also used for security purposes in the border areas,” according to Nai Kasauh Mon.