( Ponna Kyunt: 25 June 2013) : Villagers from Ponna Kyunt township have appealed to theArakan State Prime Minister U Hla Maung Tin to return back their lands which were confiscated by the government departments. They argue that nearly 120 acres of farmland, where they used to cultivate for years, were seized by various government departments showing the reason of developmental activities.
It is learnt that 20 residents from Ray Ro Byint village under Ponna Kyunt township, which is 16 miles north of Arakan capital city Sittwe, submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minster on June 19 to give back their lands which were confiscated since 1998.
In the memorandum, the affected villagers described that they have lost their farmlands, located at plot No 583 in Nget Man Gwin open field, which were prepared by their ancestors and used by them for regular cultivations.
In 1998, some government departments like Myanmar Port Authority in Sittwe forced the villagers to leave the lands, as they arguably wanted those plots to raise their workers’ welfare funds.
Since then, farmlands owners started getting few incentives, like 20 baskets of crops per acre every agriculture season. But once the farmers lost the lands, they found it difficult to get loans from the agriculture banks.
The affected villagers, at the end of the letter, had requested the Arakan State government chief to use his good office to return back the confiscated farmlands to them.
Many observers believe that the Burma government has confiscated huge areas of farmlands across the State. In some occasions, the Burma Army has also seized lands in Arakan. The excessive confiscation of farmlands has affected the production of annual crops. Hence the notion of making Arakan poverty free by the government has come out as simply unfounded.