Hukaung Val­ley res­i­dents de­cry Yuzana Company’s pres­ence

Mizzima Business Weekly - - BUSINESS // NEWS -

Almost all the farm­ers in two vil­lages in the Hukaung Val­ley in Kachin State have voted against the con­tin­ued pres­ence of the Yuzana Company Ltd., in the eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive area, the Kachin News Group re­ported on Oc­to­ber 14.

More than 1,000 farm­ers from Nawng Mi and Shahtu Zup on the Ledo Road par­tic­i­pated in a com­mu­nity ref­er­en­dum on Oc­to­ber 8 and 98 per cent voted against the company’s pres­ence in the val­ley, Hkun Sa, a res­i­dent of one of the vil­lages was quoted as say­ing.

U Hkun Sa, who lives in Nawmg Mi vil­lage, helped to or­gan­ise the ref­er­en­dum, the re­port said.

The Kachin News Group said farm­ers told a re­porter at the vote that they wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to ex­press con­cern about Yuzana’s op­er­a­tions in the re­mote val­ley, which con­tains the world’s largest tiger re­serve.

Hkun Sa said he was plan­ning sim­i­lar polls in other vil­lages in the val­ley.

The Kachin News Group re­port said there has been con­tro­versy over the company’s ac­tiv­i­ties in the val­ley since 2006 when it al­legedly ap­pro­pri­ated thou­sands of acres of land from farm­ers to es­tab­lish sugar cane and ta­pi­oca plan­ta­tions.

The farm­ers who lost their land did not re­ceive ad­e­quate com­pen­sa­tion, said Daw Bawk Ja, the Kachin State leader of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Force and a land rights ac­tivist.

The re­port said Daw Bawk Ja has helped farm­ers to sue Yuzana for the re­turn of their land.

A tiger re­serve was es­tab­lished in the re­mote val­ley in 2001 by the for­mer mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment and the New York­based Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety. In 2004, the re­serve was ex­panded to in­clude the en­tire val­ley, cov­er­ing about 21,890 square miles (56,700 square kilo­me­tres).

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have de­scribed the decision to es­tab­lish the re­serve as a sham, say­ing that since 2004 the gov­ern­ment had en­cour­aged mono­cul­ture plan­ta­tions and gold min­ing in the val­ley.

[Mizzima]

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