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Narinjara News: Arakanese Farmers Want Their Land Back

Arakanese Farmers Want Their Land Back

Arakanese farmers whose land was forcibly confiscated by the Burma military hope the government will intervene in the ongoing dispute.

Army battalion LIB-539 stole over 100 acres of farmland two miles west of Kyauktaw Town near Tharat Oak Village without providing compensation to the farmers, in 1990.

The battalion was stationed there for only three years before relocating to the foot of Kansauk Hill, between Kyauktaw and Ponnakyaun Townships, where they confiscated an additional 600 acres.

Farmers who had their land stolen on the original battalion location had no choice but to pay a Kyauktaw business man U Chan Aye Thar twenty baskets an acre to cultivate rice on their original plots.

“The army should have returned the confiscated lands back to the farmers after moving their camp,”
said a farmer.

Farmers sent an open letter to the Arakan prime minister on Nov 14 pleading for their confiscated farms to be returned. They are still waiting for a response.

In early November the army forced farmers at gunpoint off 28 plots and stole their harvests over 120 acres. One farmer described the soldiers as acting like “they were attacking a rebel base”. They pointed their rifles and forced farmers to vacate their farms “by the time they counted to ten”. The military has recently erected cantonment signs on the contested land.

Arakan MP U Saw Nyein confirmed that the latest land grab happened when contacted by Narinjara.