Protesting Karenni farmers threatened by army commander

Over the past few years, farmers across the country have begun demanding the return of their land from the Burmese Army by staging “plough protests". (PHOTO: Han Win Aung)
Karenni farmers, who sent a letter to Commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing asking him to intervene in a local land dispute, say they have now been threatened by local military commanders.

According to TuReh, a farmer from So-Lyar-Ku village in Pruso Township, a group of local farmers sent the letter to Burma’s military chief in Naypyidaw on 18 August, claiming that the army had seized and confiscated 1,200 acres of land since 1993. He said that in May of this year, more than 200 villagers had taken to campaigning through “plough protests” to draw attention to their plight and to call for the return of the farmland.

He said that on 29 August, the Burmese army’s regional control commander in Karenni State, Col. Saw Min, called on two representatives of the farmers, Su Reh and Dee De, to his office to meet with local administrative authorities. But when they attended the meeting, the two farmers were told that no land will be returned and that if they attempted to continue their plough protests, they would be charged.

“The commander said that there was no way the military would hand back the land,” said TuReh. “He said that the army could destroy the farmers’ crops any time they wanted, so we should be aware that if we continue to protest, they would use force against us.”

DVB was unable to reach Col. Saw Min for comment.

The villagers now say they will continue to fight for their land, and will take the matter to the land seizure investigation committee and the Union parliament.

They told DVB on Monday that they had also requested the Karenni National Progressive Party to intervene on their behalf.

By NANG MYA NADI (DVB)

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