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Burmese convicts ‘forced to serve on front’

Dramatic testimony from escaped prisoners has revealed how the Burmese army is forcibly using convicts to serve as porters on the frontlines in military operations against ethnic tribes. Prisoners have been tortured, used as human triggers for landmines and - in some cases - summarily executed, according to human-rights groups.

Plucked from Burma's crowded jails scattered across the country, the prisoners are driven to operations in the east where troops are battling ethnic Karen rebels, who have opposed the state since its independence in 1948.

"We were carrying food up to the camp and one porter stepped on a mine and lost his leg," one prisoner, who subsequently escaped, told rights activists. "The soldiers left him; he was screaming but no-one helped. When we came down the mountain he was dead. I looked up and saw bits of his clothing in the trees."

Another prisoner forced to carry supplies told about being shot after he and a group of 15 other prisoners ran away from the battlefield.

Belfast Telegraph