Burma Army: only villagers who sign contract can work confiscated land

Villagers from the Taungoo region claim that Burma military officials are offering to contract local farmers to work land that was confiscated from them by the army during the previous military regime.

Villagers said that the military officials responsible are from the Bayingnaung Military Training Center in Taungoo that is under the Southern Military Command.

Villagers alleged that Burma Army officers who were responsible for seizing their farmlands are now telling local farmers if they want to work on their land they have to sign a contract.

A Pastor from Thandaunggyi told Karen News that the Burma Army is offering villagers a contract entitled “Agricultural land concession Contract” that includes four clauses that makes clear the land is owned by the army.

The pastor said that villagers are caught between needing to work and trying to win back their confiscated land.

“Only two people have signed the contracts the rest are still thinking about it. During this time of building peace the Burma Army should just return the land to the original owners.”

The disputed lands total around 400 acres, and Karen villagers originally worked the land until the Bayingnaung military training center confiscated it in 1995.

A villager from Thandaunggyi explained to Karen News what the Burma Army contract contained.

“The army told us to sign the contract which contain four clauses – 1. the lands had been recognized by the Land Registration Department as army owned lands, 2. villagers may work and cultivate the land as long as the army are not using it, 3. no payment needs to be paid to work the land and 4. only individuals who sign the contract will be entitled to cultivate the land.”

Villagers said the families of Burma Army soldiers used to grow cardamom on their lands as it is good fertile land.

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