Arakanese farmers want to retrieve confiscated lands from former government officials

Pauk Taw: Arakanese farmers from Pauk Taw in Arakan have sent an appeal letter to township authority as they want to retrieve their land confiscated by state level officials in the Arakan state government for their own interests during the military government, said U Mrat Tun, a board member of Human Right Defenders and Promoters (HRDP).

W72Around 200 farmers led by U Maung Tha Tun from Nga Pyi Kyunt village in Pauk Taw Township sent the letter to the Pauk Taw township administrator a few weeks ago.

About 250 of their freehold land including paddy farms were confiscated by high ranking officials in Arakan state during the military government in 2004 giving the reason the land was for army funds.

However, the authority divided the land into small pieces for their own businesses after being confiscated. Most of the lands have been created as shrimp farms for their own interests.

According to local farmer sources, a former police chief  U Nyo Win,  former chief of Land survey department of Arakan state U Maung Gyi, former Arakan state administration department U Win Aung and General Secretary of Arakan state government  Lt Col Thein Kyin received 40 acres of land respectively after allocations among them.

Former official from Arakan state government Lt Col Tun Hla Aung, former official from Dakhasa Captain Aung Ko and a former commander of police force of Arakan received 30 acres of land each.

“Most of the officials who confiscated the land have already moved to Burma proper but they rented the land to local Businessmen yearly with high returns. The local businessmen give rental fees to them. It is an exploitation by Burmese officials of our hopeless people,” U Mrat Tun said.

The sending letter to authority is believed to be in the hands of the Township administrator but the authority has not replied to farmers over their letter, U Mrat said.

A numbers of Arakanese during the tenure of military government already left their state for many other places including Thai, Malaysia, Kachin Farkant and the China-Burma borders because of such atrocities by government authority.

Arakan state is rich in national resources as well as its own broad oceans but it has become the second poorest state in Burma after Chin state which is located at the north of Arakan state.

The present government has also announced plans to eradicate poverty in Burma soon after  it assumed  power but the government is silent about the return of confiscated land  back to farmers despite the land confiscation being a root cause of poverty in Arakan state.