Thursday, January 28, 2010

Locals Extorted for Army Propaganda Troupe


Pauk taw: A Burmese army performance troupe is roaming from one town to another in Arakan State to put on public performances that propagate junta policies through several kinds of dramas.

The army troupe performed two nights in Pauk Taw Town, 20 miles east of the capital Sittwe, on 11 and 12 January, 2010.

During the performance, Pauk Taw authorities forced businessmen in the town to contribute large sums of money to the troupe.

A businessman from Pauk Taw said, on the condition of anonymity, "I am the owner of a small rice mill. So I was forced by authorities to donate 20,000 kyats to the troupe. Similarly, goldsmith owners and shrimp farm owners were also forced by authorities to pay the same amount to the troupe."

Some government and non-governmental organizations, including the Union Solidarity Development Association, the police, and the municipality also had to pay funds for the troupes.

A clerk from the Pauk Taw Municipal office said, "USDA donated 30,000 kyats, the Municipal office donated 40,000 kyats, and the police force donated 30,000 kyats for the army troupe on the days."

However, these organizations and departments collected money from the public to pay for their donation.

The businessman said, "We have to pay every year whenever the troupe comes to our town. If we refuse to donate our money to the troupe the authority will deprive us of business opportunities in our town. We are afraid of such retaliation from the authority so we pay the funds for the troupe."

According to a local source, the army troupe received at least three million kyats in Pauk Taw for two nights of performances.

The army troupe also performed in Maungdaw on the western border during the last week of December and many businessmen and syndicates there were forced by authorities to donate money as well.

The army troupe was formed by army families in order to organize people in Arakan to support the military government. During the performances, the troupe performs many dramas that are against the pro-democracy organizations and opposition groups as well as the ethnic revolution groups, particularly the Karen National Union.

Ref: Narinjara


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