Farmers in Mandalay Region are demanding compensation from the government over what they say is a 5000-acre land grab eight years ago.
The farmers have written letters of complaint to local and national authorities demanding compensation for more than 500 acres of farmland in Nyaung Moke Sate, Ngwe Taung, Gu Taung and Thar Yar Aye villages in the south of Lewe township, in Mandalay Region.
They say 5000 acres of land was originally requisitioned for the construction of army buildings in 2005 and 2006. However, more than 4000 acres were then restored following their complaints.
“We’d like to get back our land for our livelihood because we are now in financial difficulties,” said Ko Htain Linn from Nyaung Moke Sate village in Tha Pyay Bin village tract.
The military government seized more than 5000 acres of lands around Yay Ni creek and Myauk Khone creek to house the 413th and 414th infantry regiment, but following farmers’ complaints, the then chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Senior General Than Shwe, ordered the restoration of much of the land.
Having retained the rest of the land, the government then rented it out to the farmers who had formerly owned it, charging them 10 baskets of crops for sandbank land and 15 baskets for soiled land, said Ko Htain Linn.
He said the government accepted payment in whatever crop the farmer planted on the land.
“These lands have been cultivated since our grandparents’ times. We cultivated these lands and paid taxes and selling our crops to the government at the price the government set,” said one farmer. The farmers say that in 2008 they were threatened with prison if they invaded the land.
Translated by Thiri Min Htun