Students paste anti-Castor-oil-trees posters in Myitkyina

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Kachin News Group 3 July 2008  

Before dawn this morning, students pasted about 200 A-4 sized hand-written posters against anti-Castor-oil-tree plantations in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state in Northern Burma, local student activists said.

The posters said 'No castor-oil-tree' and 'No military junta' in big letters in Burmese with red-coloured soft pens, a student leader Mr. Naw Awng told KNG.

The Castor oil trees are seen in front of Teacher Education College in Myitkyina.

According to student activists, the posters were pasted mainly at crowded places like grocery markets in Shwe Nyaung Pyin, Lekone, Dukahtawng (Du Mare), Yan Gyi Aung, Tatkone (Dapkawng) and Shatapru quarters in Myitkyina. The posters were also put up at the entrance of Myitkyina University and electric power-posts on the main street in Myitkyina downtown, the activists added.

An eyewitness told KNG, he saw anti-castor-oil-tree posters at the entrance of Myitkyina University around 8:30 a.m. local time.

The poster movement was at the behest of Myitkyina University students in the township organized by the local underground students' organization known as the All Kachin StudentsUnion (AKSU), the student activist leader Naw Awng said.

The AKSU was established in Kachin before the monk-led Saffron Revolution in Burma in September last year and the organization has launched non-stop poster movements against the ruling junta in Kachin state.

Aim of the poster movement

Student leader Naw Awng told KNG that this morning's anti-castor-oil-tree plantation movement was organized for the two reasons.

First, the posters were written by hand which will encourage the local people that they can reveal their attitude towards the authorities by pasting hand-written posters themselves in their communities.

Second, the meaning of 'No castor-oil-tree' and 'No military junta' on the posters were the same. This is because there is no government firm and private company buys the castor-oil fruits in Kachin state at a high human and monetary cost.  The plantation project is not beneficial to the public. Similarly, the Burmese ruling junta does not serve its people and only threaten them.

So, the AKSU strongly encourages the people that they have to oppose the junta's project the Castor-oil-tree plantation also called Jet Suu in Burmese as well as to topple the repressive military junta.

Authorities are reluctant to pull down anti-junta posters

Today, the junta authorities in Myitkyina were unusually reluctant to pull down the anti-castor-oil-tree posters from public areas in Myitkyina Township, local sources said.

According to student activists and eyewitnesses, they could see the anti-castor-oil-tree posters in different areas in Myitkyina till before noon because the reserved firefighters, members of the junta-sponsored Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) in each quarter and village, and policemen did not pull it down without orders from senior officers.

Earlier, all kinds of anti-junta posters were taken down as soon as the posters were seen in Myitkyina by local reserved firefighters, members of USDA and the police without waiting for orders, student activists said.

The problems have surfaced between the men and officers of reserved firefighters, USDA members and policemen after they were sent to relief programms in the Cyclone Nargis-hit Irrawaddy River Delta in Southern Burma since late May, sources close them said.

This is because, they had not received any medical support from their senior officers while they fell ill during relief duty for a month in Irrawaddy Delta and had to come back home at their own cost, sources close to firefighters said.

As a response, the local firefighters and USDA members in Myitkyina just let the anti-castor-oil-tree posters in their quarters and villages be, till orders came from senior officers, a resident who met a local reserved firefighter in Shatapru told KNG.

Castor-oil-tree plantation season in Myitkyina

Locals also call Castor-oil-tree -- Physic nut tree or Jatropha Curcas. Planting started in Myitkyina soon after the junta-run referendum on the draft constitution on May 10.

Residents of Myitkyina said, the Township Peace and Development Council

(TPDC) has ordered that people in Myitkyina municipal area have to grow over 300,000 Physic nut saplings on their own within this year's plantation season, said locals.

Now, each quarters and villages under Myitkyina municipal area have been ordered to plant 300,000 Physic nut saplings without any support from the authorities, according to administrators of quarters and villages.

To implement the order, each quarter and village administration has to buy a Pyi of Physic nut seeds (1 Pyi = 8 condensed milk cans) costing 8,000 Kyat (US $ 7) and employ civilians without wages in the Physic nut plantations, quarter administration sources said.

In Kachin state, the junta has ordered growing 500,000 acres of Physic nut trees for the country's future bio diesel production project, residents said.

The Physic nut trees bear fruits after one year after biding planted.

Fruit-poisoned children in hospital

The number children poisoned by castor-oil-tree fruit  are gradually increasing in the general public hospital in Myitkyina Township in the current fruit bearing season of Castor-oil-trees, said residents of Myitkyina.

On June 5 last month, 8 children aged 8 to 11 in Maymyint quarter were poisoned and sent to hospital. They ate immature castor-oil-tree fruits near their playground, a resident told KNG today.

"The instances of castor-oil-tree fruit poisoning are happening in every quarter and village in Myitkyina not.  Adults have also been poisoned," he added.

He said, the fruit poisoning causes eaters to vomit and feel dozy. However, the authorities have not cautioned through posters or signboards about not eating castor-oil-tree fruits in Myitkyina.


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