MILITARY CONFISCATION OF LAND LEAVES VILLAGERS IN A PITIABLE STATE IN WESTERN MYANMAR
Sittwe, 15th December 01: The residents of two villages under Kyauktaw township in Rakhine State of Myanmar whose landed property were confiscated by the Myanmar army last year have not yet been given any compensation, according to our correspondent from Sittwe, capital of the western state.
The Light Battalion 539, established at Tharak-ouk village under Kyauktaw township in 1995, was relocated to a new site 20 miles south-west of Kyauktaw, at Pain-fe-chhaung village in 2000. During the relocation process, the military fenced with barbed-wire all the landed property owned by the residents of the two villages of Kan-jauk and Pain-fe-chhaung, for establishing a new battalion headquarters there. More than twenty fruit orchards of the villagers were also confiscated in the process besides more than two hundred acres of rice paddy where the villagers also used to grow various vegetables and pulses during the dry season. Besides this the military confiscated more than fifty acres of fallow land used as pasture for the cattle in the village.
During the monsoons this year, the battalion forces compelled the villagers to plough the confiscated lands with the help of the cattle owned by the villagers, grow rice and do agriculture by forced labour, the harvest of which was reserved for the use by the family members of the battalion soldiers. At present the SPDC forces are engaging the villagers to harvest the paddy in those confiscated lands.
The villagers whose landed property was confiscated were left with not a single acre of paddy field where to grow rice for themselves. Since the owners of the confiscated fruit orchards were not used to growing paddies, they were rendered penniless and helpless as a result of the wholesale confiscation of property. The cattle, too have now to be herded to distant places for pasture.
Our correspondent added that, there are fifty-four battalions of