Kyauk Taw: Local Arakanese farmers said they wish that the higher authorities of the nation would take fair and just actions after their farmlands were forcibly confiscated by army battalion LIB-539 in Kyauktaw Township in Arakan State.
The LIB-539 is said to have forcibly grabbed over 100 acres of farm that are situated two miles west of Kyauktaw main town near Tharat Oak Village from the local farmers without providing any compensation in 1990 claiming that it needed the lands for its station.
The battalion however had stationed there for about three years after confiscating the farms and moved its station again to the foot of Kansauk Hill situated between Kyauktaw and Ponnakyaun Townships.
The farmers say it perpetuated forcible confiscations of 600 acres of their farms around the Kansauk Hill in a similar manners as well.
“The army has not returned the confiscated farms of more than 100 acres that are situated between Kyauktaw and Tharak Oak to the farmers though it has shifted its station to the Kansauk Hill. It has left the farms renting on contract to a businessman known as U Chan Aye Thar from Chin Rwa Ward in downtown Kyauktaw. The farmers have to cultivate their farms after hiring from him at a rate of 20 baskets of paddies for an acre. In fact, the army should have returned the confiscated lands to the farmers because it has already shifted its station from there”, said one of the farmers.
The farmer said they have written and requested the higher authorities to return their confiscated farms as the army battalion has already shifted to another place, but no one has taken action for their request yet.
“The army confiscated those farms for its cantonment. Now it has already moved from there and it should give back the farms to the farmers. The farmers also want back their farms. They are still expecting that they will get back their farms from the army one day”, he said.
It is learnt that the LIB 539 has confiscated 600 acres of farms on the western side of the Kansauk Hill since it has based its station at the foot of the hill and that it has now continued to grab another 120 acres of farms on the eastern side of the hill, which are owned by the farmers from nearby Preinchaung Village.
The army battalion is said to have erected signboards that read “Cantonment” on those 120 acres of farms, which the farmers have been living on for a generation by cultivating paddies, on the 15th of this November.
A Buddhist monk from the area also said, “The farmers never want to lose their farms because the farms are their lives, but the army has forcibly confiscated many acres of their farms, more than the acres it really needs for its station. So, they are now wishing the army will return the farms unnecessary for its station.”
The responsible officers of the LIB-539 are also said to have been forcibly collecting yearly tolls from the local people who have been traditionally living on grown vegetable plantations and fruit-gardens near their army camp.
The local residents said the Burmese armies forcible confiscation of arable lands from the local farmers is one of the main reasons behind poverty.