Villagers in Karen State are less than ecstatic that more than 232 acres of farmland, confiscated by the Burma Army and other government officials will be returned to them. The National League for Democracy Government’s Land Management Group, based in Karen State, said the land would be returned to its rightful owners.
Villagers said the 232 acres are just the tip of thousands of confiscated land stolen by the Burma Army. The villagers also told Karen news that the returned land was poor farming land and the NLD needed to do more and to do it quicker.
The Karen State Chief Minister presented the land titles back to the owners officially in Kantharyar Hall, Hpa-an on June 17.
The farmlands were confiscated by the Burma Army Infantry Battalion #338, #339, the State Prison Department and the former No.2 Ministry of Industry. The farmlands are located in Than Moe Taung village in Thandaunggyi Township, Lekhana village in Pa-an Township and Kawt Hlaing village in Hlaingbwe Township.
U Naing Aung, the Department Head of the Land Management and Land Revenue spoke to Karen News about the issue.“The returned farmlands have been scrutinized and considered to be unnecessary used [by State officials]. We also looked at the condition of the farmlands, whether it was worked by the farmers or not, before returning them.”
U Naing Aung said that return of the land titles are temporary as there are still paperwork that needs to be processed before it can be made permanent. He said that according to the law, the landownership process will take 89 days, but in order for the farmers to work their farms, as it is now the growing season, a temporary title was issued.
Despite the win, villagers, like Saw Paut Pyar, are not happy. He said there are still thousands of acres of confiscated land that needs to be returned to villagers.
Saw Paut Pyar is from Kawt Hlaing village, where some of the confiscated farmlands were returned. He spoke to Karen News and said.
“The returned farmlands are still only a few. In our village there have been lots of farmland confiscated by the Burma Army – they do nothing with the land. The farmland that have been returned are far from our village and not good for growing crops.”
Saw Paut Pyar said that if confiscated farmlands are to be returned, it should happen fairly.
“They should return the farmlands equally [to everyone] – not with favouritism. As for me a lot of my farmland was confiscated, no farmland has been returned to me until now.”
Villagers said that farmers want the government to return their farmland, that had been confiscated by the previous military government since 1991.