Dawei farmers take to the streets to demand their land back

For the first time in decades, farmers in Dawei Township held a demonstration in Dawei City in an attempt get back farmlands returned to them that were confiscated by the former military regime.

Ko Tun Tun Win, a farmer who led the demonstration accused local government officials of implementing development projects on confiscated farmlands without informing or negotiating with owner farmers.

Speaking to Karen News, Ko Tun Tun Win said.

“As the political situation has become a little open, we are now protesting against the government because they [government] are carrying out their projects without negotiating or consultation with farmers. The [government] actions are leaning back to dictatorship, that’s why we are protesting.”

Ko Tun Tun Win said that it is hoped that government officials will listen to the farmers’ demands and will negotiate with farmers to resolve the problems. But Ko Tun Tun Win warned that if the government officials do not take any action on the landowners demands, farmers will continue their protest.

More than 5,000 villagers from Dawei, Thapyay Chaung, Za Loon, Kutot, Auk Yephyu and Moung Makan took part in the two-hour-long protest.

The protestors shouted out for the government to take notice of six points, including return of confiscated land, the right to register the confiscated land, be paid compensations, and to stop the implementation of development projects on the confiscated land.

A farmer from Yephyu village who took part in the protest said.

“I had 14 acres of farmland, but gradually it was all confiscated. They [govt officials] look only to themselves. They do not think of our farmers. They are very ‘dirty’. We don’t want to suffer. We want them to be sympathetic to our situation and to find ways to resolve this problem.”

In 1990, the former military regime confiscated more than 300 acres of farmlands from 50 farmers in Dawei Township for building homes for civil servants.

After 2010 election, the government continued the projects and have implemented a private hospital project, communication office, ministers housing projects, fisheries department offices, tax office and religious affairs office on land that was confiscated.

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