Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – More than 700 acres of farmland in Taunggyi in southern Shan State have been marked off with stakes and banners by authorities, leading to local farmers’ fears that their land will be confiscated.
About 120 farmers signed an appeal letter sent to the president’s office in Naypyitaw, the Agriculture Ministry and the Shan State government on Monday, asking the government to project their property.
The letter said, “We humbly ask you to protect our farmland which is the lifeline of our livelihood.” The farmers grow wheat, garlic, strawberry and pigeon pea on their land.
Farmers said they noticed stone pillars with “cantonment area” markings on about 600 acres of farmland around Pin Ngo village on January 6.
Khun Kham Kao of Taunggyi, who helps farmers with land problems, told Mizzima that the farmers don’t know who was behind the markers on their land. In addition, police officers from Naypyitaw planted red banners on 170 acres of farmland in Pin Ngo village in December 2011, allegedly to be used for building a police academy, said Khun Kham Kao.
In a related case of land confiscation in the area in 2007, about 18 acres owned by local farmers were forcibly seized by the Hopin Hotel in Khaung Taing village in Nyaungshwe District in southern Shan State, local residents said.
At that time, farmers sent appeal letters to the state government and International Labour Organization, but they have yet to hear back from the authorities, attorney Khin Moe Moe of Taunggyi told Mizzima.
Regarding the forcible seizure of farmland, Upper House MP Aung Zin of Pazuntaung constituency asked a question in Parliament in 2010, “Does the government have a plan to resolve cases of forcible seizure of farmland owned by farmers for building factories and for implementing agricultural projects?”
Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Htay Oo answered, saying, “Generally farmland is not seized but in some cases minimal acreage has been seized when state projects have to be implemented.”