Local authorities seize farmers’ paddies in Minbya

Minbya: Local farmers from Thetphon Village in Minbya Township in Arakan State said the township authorities seized their paddy harvests on Monday.

“Our paddies have been taken to the house of village-administrator U Sein Kyaw Win by the laborers from the threshing grounds on our farms”, said one of the farmers.

The farmer said the second director of the township administration U Maung Htwe Khine, the sub-inspector Win Naing, a constable and the village-administrator U Sein Kyaw Win were present while confiscating the paddies from their fields.

“They (the authorities) have confiscated over 4,000 baskets of paddies from our fields. We pleaded with them not to take our paddies, but they paid no heed. They just listened to what U Sein Kyaw Win has told them”,said the farmer.

The paddies are said to be from 74 acres of farms owned by the eight farmers who include U Thar Tun Sein, U Tun Thar San, Mauk Thar Tun, Maung Phyu, Than Nu Aye, San Thar Tun and Hla Win Maung from Thetphon Village in Minbya Township.

According to farmers, those farms they had inherited from their grandparents and had been traditionally cultivating were  taken by the village-administrator U Sein Kyaw Win and the local businessman U Maung Maung Tun with the support of Burmese army in 2004.

“We have the documents and receipts of revenues we had paid to the government for our farmlands on which we had been depending for our livelihoods for generations. We have started cultivating them again this season after they were illegally confiscated for years. Now the paddies in our farms are ripe and U Sein Kyaw Win has reaped them in collusion with the township authorities claiming that he owns the farms”, said the farmers.

U Thar Kyaw, a lawmaker of the regional parliament from Minbya Township, also confirmed the incident of confiscating paddies from the farmers in the area when he was contacted by Narinjara.

“I am just a parliamentarian and I have no administrative authority to arbitrate the dispute between the village-administrator and the farmers. So, I have suggested the township authorities to act fairly for their dispute. But now, I have heard that they themselves have gone there to confiscate the paddies from the farmers”, said U Thar Kyaw.

When asked why the authorities acted so without arbitrating the dispute, he said, “It is difficult to say, but I think that U Sein Kyaw Win is the present village-administrator there and he may have bribed the authorities to stand on his side.”

According to a local villager, U Sein Kyaw Win has claimed that he had to spend 3.8 million kyat to reap the paddies cultivated by the farmers.

Narinjara has contacted the office as well as the residence of the township administrator in Minbya to get his comments regarding the dispute, but both places replied that he was away.

The farmers said they are now helpless and have suffered great losses as the village-administrator in collusion with the authorities have bullied them and seized all of their paddies.