Magwe farm­ers de­mand re­turn of land seized in the 1990s

The Myanmar Times - - News - NAY AUNG nayaung@mm­times.com

FARM­ERS from Magwe Re­gion have for­mally sub­mit­ted com­plaints, for a third time this year, de­mand­ing the re­turn of acreage seized by the Min­istry of De­fence in the late 1990s.

Their com­plaints, which have been sub­mit­ted to Vice Pres­i­dent U Henry Van Thio, Magwe’s chief min­is­ter and a num­ber of par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees, re­late to 12,700 acres of farm­land in Sin­baungwe town­ship be­tween 1998-99.

Dur­ing this time, the farm­ers’ land was ac­quired by the Min­istry of De­fence for the con­struc­tion of fac­to­ries for the state-owned Myan­mar De­fence Prod­ucts In­dus­tries, bet­ter known as Ka Pa Sa. Farm­ers were of­fered neg­li­gi­ble com­pen­sa­tion, ap­prox­i­mately equiv­a­lent to US$0.01 per acre.

“Once the farm­lands were seized, farm­ers were told to come to take com­pen­sa­tion of K12 an acre. Some took it but some didn’t,” said farmer U Myo Tint from Ma Gyi Pin Pu vil­lage.

The ag­grieved farm­ers are seek­ing the re­turn of lands that was never utilised, or fair com­pen­sa­tion.

“We want to take back the un­used lands. For land which is be­ing used, we want com­pen­sa­tion that is cal­cu­lated ac­cord­ing to the land’s cur­rent value,” U Myo Tint said.

“There are un­used lands left over from the weapons fac­tory so we want the au­thor­i­ties to give it back to us. And then we also want a Form 7 [Land Use Cer­tifi­cate],” said an­other farmer, U Aung San, from Sar Ya Pay vil­lage.

The farm­ers have sub­mit­ted nu­mer­ous com­plaints to suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments about the land seizures, but so far they seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

In Au­gust 2012, nearly 500 farm­ers from the 13 vil­lages de­manded the re­turn of their farm­lands by sub­mit­ting letters to for­mer Pres­i­dent U Thein Sein and 34 rel­e­vant de­part­ments. The for­mer gov­ern­ment took no ac­tion to re­solve their claims.

The Na­tional League for Democ­ra­cyled gov­ern­ment has been sim­i­larly un­re­spon­sive to the farm­ers’ com­plaints so far, de­spite the party’s cam­paign pledge to re­solve all land-grab is­sues.

Ac­cord­ing to U Paw Oo, Farm­ers Network chair for the Baw Myint vil­lage area, the two for­mal com­plaints sub­mit­ted by farm­ers in May and Au­gust of this year have re­ceived no re­sponse from the gov­ern­ment.

“That’s why we have sub­mit­ted our com­plaint again for a third time,” he said.

An ex­pert in farm­land law and ad­viser to the Magwe Re­gion Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion, U Aung Kyaw Kyaw was crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the claims.

“The farm­land law states that a spe­cial team, headed by a re­gional ex­ec­u­tive, shall in­ves­ti­gate farm­land is­sues which con­cern the pub­lic. But such a spe­cial team has not been formed,” he said. “Fair com­pen­sa­tion should be paid to the farm­ers for land be­ing for mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties and un­used land should be re­turned to them.”

– Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

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