Farmers threaten to ramp up protests over lost land
IMPATIENT at what they say is 20 years of delay, Mandalay Region farmers are warning they will take their protest to the streets unless the government restores their lost land. They say 3000 acres (1200 hectares) were seized in 1995 to build three government institutions, but only 1000 acres were used. They say they have been demanding the return of the remaining 2000 acres ever since.
The land is located in Zee Pin Gyi village, Pyin Oo Lwin township, Mandalay Region. The Central Fire Brigade Institute, the Police Officer Training Institute and the Central Institute of Civil Service were built on it.
Local farmer Daw Mary said, “We asked the old government for permission to cultivate the remaining land. Former Mandalay chief minister U Ye Myint told us that 200 acres would be returned, but it has not been returned. We’ve asked the new government to resolve this case. We will wait 15 days, and if nothing has been done, we will take our protest to Mandalay.
“We have no problem with the government, but we want our case resolved. We want the rest of our land back.”
About 1000 farmers already staged a protest in Pyin Oo Lwin on July 1, asking for the restoration of their lands and the right to cultivate there.
“We abided by the law in submitting our letter. We’ve written many letters to various departments, but there has been no solution yet. We started working the land, but people from the institute stopped us,” said local resident U Thaung Shwe.
U Zaw Min Aung, an official with the Farmland Management and Statistics Department of the regional government, said, “The letters from the farmers have gone to the departments concerned. My department will not be involved unless we are instructed to return the land. No committee has yet been set up to decide this. The committee will be set up at the regional and township levels to look into the letters.”
– Translation by Khine Thazin Han
Farmers protest land grabs in Zee Pin Gyi village, Mandalay Region, on July 1.