Farmer burdened with taxes on confiscated lands

Taungup: A farmer from Maunnchaung Village in Taungup Township in southern Arakan State is still being burdened with the official taxes for his farmlands that were confiscated by the army nearly a decade ago.

The confiscated lands ( Photo by Pho Htung)

“Four out of the six acres of  farmland owned by my father U Soe Aung were forcibly confiscated by the military team led by the Commander of the Military Operation Command or Sa-Ka-Kha (5), Myint Soe, and the Chairman of the Township Ex-Military Servicemen, retired Major Thein Soe Naing, in 2002-2003, but the government is still continuing to collect taxes from my father for those lands”, said the farmer’s son Khin Maung Soe.

He said his father now has two acres of land  left after confiscation but he has been paying the taxes for all six acres of land fearing that the remaining lands will be also confiscated if he fails to pay.

According to him, the lands were traditionally cultivated by his father for earning a livelihood for their family. They are situated in Ranmyoaung Village Group in the township and are still under official registration in his father’s name.

But the military army officers forcibly confiscated their lands on the pretense of state interest and have been leasing the lands to local private businessmen for their personal benefit.

Khin Maung Soe said his father wrote a complaint letter to President U Thein Sein requesting the return of the lands after it was widely reported among the local residents that those officers have recently sold off the lands to a local private businessman.

“My father has submitted a written complaint to the present government addressed to the President on the 3rd of January requesting the return of those confiscated lands to us because the lands are our ancestral properties on which we have been cultivating all through the ages. But the government is still neglecting to look into the matter though it is still collecting revenues for the lands from us”, he said.

He said that their confiscated lands are now being turned into teak and rubber plantations after the military officers have sold off the lands to U Than Min, the owner of the Min Min Jewelries Store in downtown Taungup.