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Army employs forced labour to build camp in Matiranga

Received 28 Aug 05

An army commander in Matiranga under Khagrachari district is alleged to have constructed a camp employing forced labour and with construction materials collected forcibly from traders.

In July this year the camp commander of Parshuram Ghat under Ballyahcari Captain Mahbub ordered the bamboo traders of the area to supply bamboos free of cost for the construction of the camp. Non-compliance of the order would be dealt with seriously, he threatened.

For fear of reprisal the traders supplied, of course free of cost, bamboos and other materials necessary for the construction of the camp.

After that the camp commander called the Karbaris (village head) and Union Parishad members of 14 villages to his camp and ordered them to send at least one able bodied male member from each house of the 14 villages to give physical labour to build the camp. He also threatened to take serious actions against anyone who would dare to disobey his order.

Finding no other way, the villagers were compelled to comply with the order.

It was season for planting paddy in the field. But the villagers had to provide free labour for the construction of the camp instead of working in their own paddy fields. They worked for 15 days on end to complete the construction of the camp. They were not even paid a penny for the whole work they had done, although the commander is believed to have been paid by his higher authority for it.

The villages forced to supply free labour are Hazachara, Rabindra Para, Taruni Member Para, Damai Para, Indra Moni Para, Joy Kumar Para, Zamani Para, Bil Para, Jum Chara, Shanti Moni Para, Baney Kumar Para, Upendra Para, Nilonga Para and Rajendra Para.

Apart from providing forced labour, the Karbaris and the Members are also being forced to present themselves in the camp once in every month.

International conventions as well as the constitution of Bangladesh banned forced labour in any form. Section 34 of the Constitution of Bangladesh states: All forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

Nonetheless, some despot-like army officers don’t give two hoots about the supreme law of the land and become laws unto themselves.The curious thing of all this is that they are never punished by the State for violating the constitution and other national as well as international laws.

Source: UPDF

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