Narinjara News


Sittwe, 12
th December 01:  An island which had been used by the nearby villagers for growing firewood and raising fish for community needs at the mouth of the Mayu river in Rakhine State has been leased to a Muslim businessman by the State Peace and Development Council junta of Myanmar, according to our correspondent from Sittwe.

The island of Tharak-prung had been used through ages throughout the history of Rakhine as private land for purely the villagers' use.  The junta in 1997 forcefully confiscated the island by the help of Light Infantry Battalions 355, 356 and 357 stationed in Rathedaung township of the western state.   After the confiscation, the villagers from the nearby villages including Kudaung, Shwe-laung-daung, Sagaing, Krak-ro-hseik, Kanbrung and Min-gan-chhaung on the eastern bank of the Mayu river, and Laung-chhaung, Tharek-chhaungKala-chhaung, Hung-dang, Ran-aung-brung, Khamaung-dung and Aung-hseik on the west bank of the Mayu, were forced to work by the military in the island for constructing shrimp farms for the use of the military.  For two consecutive years, the villagers in the area could not grow paddy well in their fields as they had to offer slave work for free in the confiscated island.

       From the year 1999, the island has regularly been leased to the highest bidder.  This time the highest bidder was, Hla Myint, a Muslim from Buthidaung, who got lease of the island for the year of 2002 by paying 17.5 million  kyat to the SPDC coiffure in November this year. Hla Myint has also received the permit for carrying goods between Buthidaung and Maungdaw from Military Intelligence 18.  The island has since been sealed off and no firewood collection and fishing is allowed to the people of the nearly one hundred nearby villages who have been using the natural resources of the island from time immemorial, and the suffering of these riverside villages now know no bounds. 

The SPDC export the shrimp grown in the confiscated public-owned shrimp fields of Rakhine State where extensive forced labour was used to make the shrimp farms to the international community including the European Union, a renowned businessman of Sittwe told our correspondent.  #