Narinjara news

Burmese junta’s gangs of rice robbers

Kyauk-pru, 3 February:  
The Rice Procurement Team in Kyaukpru District in the western part of Burma have started to rob the villagers of whatever rice is available in the face of failure to realize even half of the targeted amount of rice collection in the present harvest season, according to our correspondent in the area.

On 3rd January, the Kyaukpru District Peace and Development Council junta chairman Lieutenant Colonel Aye Gyaw summoned all the government employees related to the rice collection drive including members of the police force, army officers and local junta leaders in a meeting and declared that the target for rice collection this year is 330,000 tinns (1 tinn = 30 kgs) for the district.   He called for total cooperation of all the concerned officials and armed forces to make the rice collection drive successful in the face of non-realization of the target though the harvest season has long been over, sources said.

In compliance of the order the rice from all the villages in the district including the village tracts of Rann-chaung, Ungdaw, Zin-chaung, and Leik-khamaw has been confiscated from the villagers beginning January 5.  The rice, according to a village councillor, is realized at twelve tinns for each acre. 

This year not only the rice-growers but also the owners of shrimp farms, salt fields, and fruit orchards are also compulsorily made to pay ten tinns of rice for each acre of their   own farmlands.  Those who cannot pay the rice toll are forced to pay kyat 1,500 for each tinn of the demanded amount of rice.  ‘This is clean state-sponsored extortion down to an inhuman scale,’ commented a village councillor.

At Leik-khamaw some seven villagers were arrested and taken to the Kyaukpru police station as they were too poor to pay the demanded toll of rice, said a source in the village council.  The arrest is also made in other parts of the district.  ‘Failure to realize the target amount of rice means demotion or even dismissal from job of the concerned township and village officials including the law enforcement agencies,’ said our correspondent quoting the lieutenant colonel.

The best arable land in the state can hardly yield 25 tinns of paddy per acre, while the price for 100 tinns of rice is kyat 150,000 in the open market, the junta pays one-fifth the actual price to the rice growers, which cannot even cover the cost for farming rice, said a local farmer.  The four townships of Kyaukpru, Rambre, Mrebon and Ann make up Kyaukpru District in
Rakhine State.

Last year the target for rice collection was nine million tinns while the fresh target for this year has been set for 9.3 million for
Rakhine State, the poorest and least developed state of Burma on the western front.  #