Govt land registration officials ignore land confiscation claims

Villagers in the Taungoo area claim that government officials from the Land Registration Directorate are ignoring their reports of land confiscation cases.

Original landowners from Htan Tabin Township, Taungoo District, Pegu Division accuse officials from the Land Registration Directorate of avoiding meeting with them on June 20. The landowners had gone to the Land Registration office to report the confiscation of 300-acres of land taken by the Burma Army.

Saw Doe Htoo, a resident, who had his land confiscated by the Burma Army spoke to Karen News.

“The Land Registration Directorate officer told Zaw Min Oo, a land-surveyor to look into our case. We wrote a letter to U Win Hlaing, the land-surveying director to arrange a meeting. When we got to the office, they refused to come out from the office and meet with us. I don’t have any lands left to cultivate, as all of my 13 acres of land handed down to me by my ancestors were confiscated.”

The confiscated 300 acres belongs to villagers from Zee Phyu Gone, Tapaye and Pyinkhan. The villages are located seven miles from Taungoo Town. Villagers claim Burma Army battalions under the control of the Southern Command Headquarters confiscated their lands.

Villagers estimate that more than 60 families relied on the confiscated farmlands. Villagers claim that the Burma Army is now leasing the confiscated land to richer farmers who can afford the rental fees. The original landowners explained that as they could not afford the Burma Army’s rental fee they have lost the use of their land.

A villager (who asked not to be named) who is helping the farmers fight for the return of their confiscated land said.

“The original land owner asked [Burma Army] to reduce the renting fees. The army ignored the request and allowed farmers who could pay the higher fees to work the land. Farmers say that in the past they were too scared to speak out, but since the ceasefire between the Karen National Union and the government they are willing to speak out to get their land back. Villagers have reported it to the land-surveying office in Htan Tabin.”

Villagers who had their lands confiscated now have to work as daily laborers.

When Karen News tried to get a response from the Land Registration Directorate office in Htan Tabin about the land confiscation claims, an office staff responded by saying that Land Registration Director was unavailable for comment as he was in the meeting – the office staff, despite the villagers letter, said they were not aware of the farmers case.”

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