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Since 1988, the number of infantry battalions based in the Western Command, an area that includes Arakan State and Paletwa Township of Chin State, has increased from 3 to 43 battalions as of 2006. Furthermore, there are ten specialized battalions (such as engineering and communications), three tactical command centres, and three navy bases. The Western Commander, headquartered in the town of Ann in Arakan State, controls many of the lucrative businesses in the state as permission is needed for any licensing and procedures.
As in other areas of Burma, the arrival of more troops or battalions in Arakan State has also brought increased forced labour and land confiscation to make way for barracks, outposts, and other military infrastructure. Extortion and violence against ethnic nationalities' and women have also increased. As a result, there has been no freedom of movement, assembly, speech, press, etc.
Forced land confiscation without any compensation is commonplace in Arakan, especially where development projects are being implemented by the Burmese government and foreign corporations. There are currently many development projects happening in Arakan State such as the Shwe Gas Project, Kaladan Project, and several hydropower projects, which have led to land confiscation and forced relocation. As long as the expansion of the military in ethnic states of Burma continues, land will be forcibly confiscated with little or no compensation being given to the owners. The land confiscated is used to house barracks, outposts and training sites for the troops. Furthermore, considerable areas of land are confiscated for farming and gardening in order to supplement rations and generate additional income for the troops.
The State policy of increasing troop deployments has caused many ethnic villagers to flee, abandoning their land and property in the process. Even those who remain are often forced to abandon traditional customary land practices, as they are forced to grow crops or use techniques unsuitable for the land under cultivation.
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