The first congress of the Arakan Peasant Union is being held in Sittwe with the aim to establish a stronger peasant union and work for farmers’ affairs.
“The emergence of an organized and strong peasant union is needed to uplift the lives of the farmers, who have been oppressed throughout successive eras. This conference is held under this aim,” said U Kyaw Zan, secretary of the Arakan Peasant Union.
The conference kicked off at Alo-daw Pyae Monastery Religious Hall in Sittwe, Rakhine (Arakan) State at 8:30 am on August 12 and will be held for four days up to August 15.
Farmlands and irrigation have been seized by the military government in 1988. Businessmen also seized them to build shrimp ponds. Over 500,000 acres of farmland have been seized from the farmers in the Rakhine State. The farmers are unable to fish in the ditches they own and farm owners became workers who have to work for other people,” U Aung Win, chair of the Rakhine government’s Guarantees, Pledges and Undertaking Vetting Committee and chair of the Agriculture, Meat and Fish, Forestry, and Irrigation Working Group, told the congress.
The Rakhine State Hluttaw has established a committee to solve the land grabbing issues of the farmers and only 400 out of over 1,200 cases have been resolved within the five-year term of the previous government. Over 600 cases have been reported this year and only 120 cases have been resolved so far, U Aung Win continued.
“In Myanmar history, the Rakhine had established banks, but there aren’t any banks owned by the Rakhine in the Rakhine State now. A bank that is co-owned by Rakhine businessmen and financiers need to be established in order to uplift the lives of the Rakhine people and the farmers,” U Khaing Soe, former leader of the Arakan Communist Party, told the congress.
U Khin Maung Gyi, an official from the Rakhine Public Company, said the nature of businessmen is to work for profits and they do not consider the suffering of others, but the businessmen and entrepreneurs need to undergo a mental change in order to aim and work towards the prosperity of both sides.
“I’ve learned that the Rakhine State produces 400,000 tons of rice per year. We can get US$250 per ton if the rice can be exported overseas. If it can be exported, farmers can get good price,” said U Khin Maung Gyi.
“I’m attending this congress because I want to work for the benefit of the farmers. I will run for the Central Leading Committee,” said Daw Moe Moe Aye, secretary of the Rakhine Peasant Union from Kyaukpyu Township.
Under the leadership of Sayadaw U Seindar, the All Rakhine Peasant Congress was held 72 years ago at Kyar In Taung Village in Myebon Township, Rakhine State.
The Rakhine Peasant Union was established in September 2016 based on the decision of the Peasant Pre-Congress, which was held in Myebon Township.
Around 200 people including the delegates of respective Peasant Union from 17 townships in the Rakhine State and Paletwa Township, Chin State and observers attended the congress.