Farmers Refuse Alternative Plots Offered By Govt
By Network Media Group
Monday, May 11, 2020
Kayah farmers whose land were taken by the Tatamadaw have refused alternative plots offered by the government because they say it’s already owned by the village.
Tuu Reh, who works with Karenni State Farmer Union, said the 45 acres the farmers were offered is already owned by villagers from Dawsoshay. Only some of those whose land was confiscated were offered the deal, he said, and accepting it will “create division” in the community.
Before the government presented the arrangement to farmers late last month villagers observed government staff measuring plots at the base of a mountain near Dawsoshay.
Nine farmers from Kayan Kyatkhu and five from Dawsoshay were offered the plots and then asked to sign a document regardless of whether or not they accepted the settlement.
“They offered us land plots that are inconveniently located and they didn’t return our original farms,” said a farmer from Dawsoshay. “We expected to get our farmland back that was confiscated by the Army.”
Over 400 acres of land was confiscated by the Burma Army’s artillery battalion-360 between 1989 and 1991. Despite this, many continued cultivating their land until 2014 when the Tatmadaw forbade it. Last year in protest, farmers tore down fencing that the Army had erected around the land.
Tuu Reh told NMG the “Army doesn’t plan to return their farmland” and a brick fence has already been built around it. Before this, the land was sitting idle but the Army still wouldn’t allow the farmers to cultivate it. When they tried they were arrested and some received fines or jail sentences. The “farmers have suffered mental trauma.”