Following the good feel surrounding the ceasefire between the Karen and Burma government, villagers forced relocated 10 years ago returned in hope to their old village, only to find it occupied by a palm oil company.
Following their forced relocation by Burma Army, Karen villagers from the east of Myeik Town, in southern Burma began to return to their old village, only to find there was no place for them to resettle on their land as it had been taken over by companies.
Saw Myo Naing, a Karen National Union (KNU) township officer from Ler Mu Lah, spoke to Karen News about the villagers’ situation.
“The Karen villagers from Tu Byaw, Nga Ya Aye and Ba May now want to return to their old villages they were forced out of. They can no longer do so as their land and villages are now occupied by Asia World Company who are running a palm oil plantation in their village.”
Saw Myo Naing said that the villagers were forced out of their village and into a Burma Army designated relocation site. The Karen villages of Tu Byaw, Nga Ya Aye and Ba May villages were relocated by Burma Army more than a decade ago. The villagers were relocated next to a car-road between Myaik-Kawthaung.
Saw Myo Naing said.
“The relocated villagers now want start to return to their old place as the relocation camp has limited space for them and for future generations. Five families returned to their [old] village and started to build their houses on the company’s palm oil plantation. Now it has become a dispute with the company. We went to meet with them, but right now we cannot resettle the issue. We will report the issue to our district office.”
Saw Myo Naing said.
“Following the relocation of the villagers, the Burma Army gave a concession to the company for its palm oil project on the abandoned villages and villagers land.”
Saw Myo Naing said the ceasefire had given hope to relocated villagers that they can return to their old land.
“After the cease-fire between the KNU and Burmese government many villagers in our area want to return to their villages to re-build their lives. The problem is that most of the villagers’ land and their villages have been takeover by companies. This has become a major issue for the peace building process. Even after the ceasefire more and more companies have started coming into the villagers areas and taking land.”
Saw Myo Naing estimates that Tu Byaw village has as many as 80 families, Nga Ya Aye 40 and Ba Aye 60.
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