Residents in southern Shan State’s Mong Nong sub-township are claiming that their lands have been seized by the Burmese military.
Photo by SHRF: land confiscation for Salween Dam in northern Shan State.
A local source who wished to remain anonymous told Shan Herald that Burmese army Battalion No. 286, which is based near Kong Kham village in the Mong Nong Sub-township of Kehsi Township, had erected barbed-wire fencing around local properties on April 27.
“The Tatmadaw [Burmese military] Battalion 286 is located west of Kong Kham village,” the local source explained. “The commander of the battalion is Maj. Aung Kyaw Soe, and his deputy is Maj. Thin Myo Aung. They put up the barbed-wire fences about 80 feet from Kong Kham, which blocks access to the main road between Wan Mai and Wiang Gao villages.”
He added: “The lands in question belong to local villagers, who grow crops there. Altogether, they think that about 30 acres of land have been confiscated. No compensation was offered. The villagers even requested the army build a new road but have received no reply.”
During the era of the military junta, especially during the 1990s, the arbitrary seizure of farmers’ lands was a common phenomenon across the country, particularly in Shan State. By the 2000s, much of the seized land had been rented out to agri-business firms, and a massive government campaign was initiated to encourage investment in the harvesting of jatropha oil. Ultimately, the scheme failed; investors lost great sums of money, while farmers lost land and livelihoods.
According to a report in April 2016 by the Ethnic Peace and Resources Project (EPRP), the Tai Youth Organization, and the We Are Tai group, a total of over 10,000 acres of villagers’ land has been confiscated by the Burmese military, private businesses, and local ethnic armed groups in 18 townships across Shan State.
Since the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, took power over a year ago, villagers have petitioned the government for assistance in getting their lands back. However, only modest successes have been reported.
On April 28, Shan Herald reported that some 30 villagers in northern Shan State’s Hsipaw Township had staged a protest in the town, demanding that the government intervene to resolve the issue of lands which, they say, were seized by the military government over 20 years ago.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)