Forced labour is becoming common in Buthidaung township where military ‘clearance’ operations have compelled the vast majority of the Rohingya Muslim population to flee to Bangladesh. The few remaining are increasingly being conscripted as slave labourers for the military.

The left behind are the elderly, the infirm and those too poor to leave. As the people starve in a semi curfew situation imposed by the authorities, multiple sources across the Buthidaung township say that military officials are forcing people to work without pay. The slave laborers are made to conduct hard labour for long hours often with minimal rations. Anyone refusing to do labour risk being arrested on charges of waging insurgency in 2017.

The intensity of the military operations mean that in some villages there are no people fit to work as slave labourers, say sources in the Buthidaung area. They say many are too weak to work owing to lack of food. The military has however instead looted poultry in the area taking whatever little that belonged to the people.