Tatmadaw Threatens to Sue Farmers for Growing Crops Near Army Base

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Soldiers block Karenni farmers from tending to their land, and are now building a wall to fence off the area.

By KANTARAWADDY TIMES

Farmers from Dawmukalar village have said that Burma Army troops threatened to take legal action against them earlier this month while tending to their farms.

Soldiers wearing uniforms indicating they were from Infantry Battalion (IB) 250 blocked farmers from entering their land on May 17, they said.  

“We were just clearing bushes on our farms because rainy season is coming. Soldiers arrived at our farm. We were worried that if we continued working on the farm, the army would sue us,” farmer Shar Reh told Kantarawaddy Times.

IB-250 seized farmland around 11 villages—including Dawmukalar—in Nwar La Woe and Chikei village tracts in 1990. Yet this is reportedly the first year that they have blocked farming in the area.

According to farmers, the soldiers said that the military will now build a brick wall to fence off the farmland. They have already reportedly begun digging a trench to begin the construction of the wall.

Locals reported the issue to the General Administration Department and officials from the land department, but they say that no one has addressed their dilemma.

Shar Reh said that the regional commander had informed villagers that the farmland would not be returned, and that he had said, “we cannot give any compensation; we won’t allow you to farm near our base.”

“If we receive our land back, we will grow corn, peanuts and rice paddies on our farms. I will continue to work on my farm. I don’t know how to work in another job,” farmer Lee Reh said.

The Karenni State Farmers Union released a statement on May 21 calling for farmers not to be blocked from their own land and for IB 250 to permit farmers to carry on with their work.

“It’s cultivation time… The army should respect what farmers are doing,” Karenni State Farmers Union chairperson Tu Reh said.

The farmers union also urged political parties to get involved in resolving land issues.

“The army and the government must solve this land problem with a big heart. If not, the problem will grow and become more complicated,” Kaw Reeio, who is working with the union, told Kantarawaddy Times.

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