Prison Authorities Sell Convict Labor in Arakan

Ponna Kyunt: The authorities of the prison labor camp in Thaytaw Village in Ponna Kyunt Township in northeastern Arakan State have been hiring out prisoners as day laborers to the local private industries to raise “prison funds”.

One farmland owner in the area told Narinjara that the officials of the prison camp hire out prisoners at a rate of 2,000 Kyat each per day to the local farm owners for agricultural work in the area.

“We have to hire the prisoners from the labor camp as day laborers for our cultivation because we have a shortage of laborers in our area. We have to pay 2,000 Kyat and provide two meals for a prisoner working on our farmland from 7 am to 4 pm each day. At present we are using them for reaping and carrying our paddy harvests,” said the farmer.

He added that there are nearly 50 prisoners at the labor camp and camp authorities hire them out to farmers as well as to other industries in the area, and collect their wages themselves. “The camp has been hiring its prisoners not only to us but also to other private industries in our area, and also using them for its own firewood trading. Its officer, U Win Maung, usually collects the prisoners’ wages from us, saying they have to use the prisoners to raise funds for the prison,” he said.

According to the source, the prisoners at the labor camp are being sent from prisons in Sittwe and Buthidaung for three-month terms to serve their sentence of hard labor before completing their jail terms, but the labor camp authorities are exploiting the prisoners’ hard labor to make money to line their own pockets on the pretense of raising funds for the prison.