Nicolas Haque; 27/10/09
On Myanmar’s side of the Naf River that marks border with Bangladesh, labourers are hard at work building a fence that will prevent them fleeing persecution. They will not be paid for their work. Instead the men, who come from the persecuted Rohingya ethnic group, have been coerced into erecting the 230km long fence by the threat of violence against their families. The Rohingyas are a distinct ethnic group from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The authorities in Yangon have refused to recognise them as citizens and they have been persecuted for their cultural difference and practice of Islam. For many, life in Myanmar has become so difficult that they have fled across the border to Bangladesh. Over the past year 12,000 Rohingyas have been caught crossing the border illegally. Now they are being forced to build a fence to prevent such escapes.