Landowners in Hpa-an Township are frustrated that they have to pay yearly rent to use lands that once belonged to them, but were confiscated by the military in 2003.
Villagers claim that the property, that includes land from four villages in Aein Duu village tract, costs the villagers 300,000 kyat a acre in fees paid to the military to continue farming on it.
“I had to move out the same night when the government military troops came to grab these lands,” said Saw Thwaik, a villager from Chaung Tha Ywar Thit.
“My family was forcibly driven away. None of the villages dare to live on the land. Now, we have to rent the lands that [once] belonged to us, but that’s impossible.”
In 2003, Burma Army Infantry Battalion 310 confiscated more than 500 acres belonging to 69 villagers from Shwe Pyi Taung, Kawt Kha Mein, Chaung Thar Ywar Thit, and Moke Ta Kwee villages in the Aein Duu village tract.
Soldiers from Infantry Battalion 310 forced farmers to sign waivers transferring official custody of their stolen land to the military, the farmers claim.
“The military troops summoned us,” land grab victim Nan Tu said. “We were asked to sign on the paper. We dare not to sign it. Then we were summoned day-by-day. Finally, the villagers had to hide from them.”
Farmers reported the theft of their land to the government’s defense ministry, agricultural ministry, and to a land investigation commission, as well as other departments. Farmers claim Burma Army soldiers also rent the land out to other business interests.
“We submitted our letter a number of times to relevant departments. However, there is no response yet. It makes the farmers suffer,” U Ni, who assists villagers with the appeals, said.
“They [farmers] also could not stand to lose their lands any more. Finally, we will stage a protest if our proposal does not succeed.”
Villagers said that they have seen no sign of government intervention on behalf of their stolen land claims.