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Damming at gunpoint(English Version)

CONDITIONS AROUND THE

CONDITIONS AROUND THE PLANNED DAM SITES 55 1inch = 25 miles Map 15: Wet-Rice Farms in Eastern Papun District

56 DAMMING AT GUNPOINT wages elsewhere. Today, however, increased militarization, forced displacement, road building, restriction on movement and other abuses by the Burmese Army are threatening food security for local populations. Since the Burmese Army offensive in 1995, a total of 50 plots of paddy fields (487 acres in total = 0.76 sq.miles) in Pa Hai Village Tract have been abandoned until today. This has meant that rice production in the village tract has been effectively reduced by 19,400 baskets (a value of about 2.3 million bath annually, at a rate of 120 baht per basket). This does not include the decrease in dry hill rice production, which the local population largely depended on, owing to the fact that the hill areas have become “free-fire” zones. In Kor Pu Village Tract, between March and April 2004, during construction of a new road from Kor Pu to Paw Hta led by SPDC troops (LIB 379), 25 plots of land (51 acres) along Thee Ro stream and Mae Ye stream valleys were permanently destroyed by the road project. It is now extremely difficult for food supplies from Thailand to be transported into the area, since SPDC established a permanent presence there. Other income for cash is very limited due to the fact all villagers have to live as IDPs. Some villagers risk their lives by buying supplies such as medicines and other basic goods (mostly from Thailand) and peddling them among the IDP communities. Lack of food is one of the decisive factors in influencing IDPs to become refugees in Thailand. IDPs prefer to face extreme difficulties and dangers in order to stay near their home area, rather than in villages under the control of SPDC troops or in refugee camps in Thailand. Even when fleeing to avoid SPDC troops, they tend simply to move around their home area. Moving to another place such as a refugee camp in Thailand is only their very last resort, when they have no choice, usually meaning they have no food. An IDP woman in Bwa Der Village of Bwa Der Village Tract described life in former, more peaceful times: “Nowadays, earning a living is not as enjoyable as in previous times. We are always worrying when we plant our crops. Before [before Burmese troop operations in the area], ah, what a wonderful time it was! We helped each other plant-

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