Lahu villagers relocated ahead of ‘new city’ project

Ethnic Lahu villagers in eastern Shan State say they are being forcibly relocated to make way for a new city project initiated by the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

The local residents told Shan Herald the evictions started in early July.

“The Wa authorities are forcing Jar Taw Khar Lahu village to relocate. The village has 32 households,” said Aik Nat, the village elder. “The Wa authorities are confiscating the villagers’ farmlands after making them sign papers. They confiscated the farmlands near Loi Sit Main Mountain in early July without paying compensation. The villagers are crying over it.”

The village, in Mine Hpyat/Mong Hpyak township, is under the control of the UWSA’s 468th Division, according to local officials.

But a UWSA commander said the villagers have misunderstood, the project is for them. Mong Hpyak-based battalion commander Ah Fong said the new city will improve the area, allowing the residents to live with modern amenities. He said 3,000 acres of land are being used for the project. Mountains are also being blown up and farmlands are being filled in with earth to prepare for the settlement next year, he added.