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Army pressures Rohingya orchid farmers to sell wood



The
Burma army is pressuring Rohingya orchid farmers to sell their trees
for wood to make bricks for a new highway in Maungdaw Township.

The
highway that cuts through Rohingya and Rakhine’s farmland in the
south and northern areas of the state, follows the route of an old
road built by the British during the World War-II. Locals expect more
than 30 acres of winter seasonal farmland to be also destroyed to
make room for the road.



Villagers
have offered to help the army by providing them with wood from a
nearby forest but the army wants them to cut down their orchids. Many
of the mango, orange and lemon trees were planted about 5 or 10 years
ago with the help of the CARE international aid group.

On
Jan. 17, twenty-acres of a mango orchid owned by Molvi Ismail, from
Kilai Daung village, in Maungdaw east, was destroyed by Rakhine
villagers who needed wood for baking bricks for the road
construction. One villager said there plenty of other trees they
could have taken from the nearby mountain.
In
Gudu Sara village, 50 acres of a 200 acres orchid were cut down by
Rakhine villagers who had allegedly re-settled from Bangladesh
recently,  according to a businessman  who didn’t want
their name used.
So
far the army hasn’t been using forced labour in the construction of
the new highway.