Mawlamyine Municipal Department to bar local farmers from access to farm land

September 28, 2018

HURFOM: The Mawlamyine Municipal Department tried to fence a 235-acre paddy field farmed by the 23 local farmers in Thar Yar Aye Ward, Mawlamyine, Mon State on September 15th 2018.

The farmland has been confiscated by the department since 1999, but the department has not done any with the land yet, so the original owners have been farming paddy rice on the land. However, the department, now, has tried to fence the farmland in order to bar the farmers from farming on the land. The farmers have decided to oppose the abusive act by the department.

We, the farmers, have received tax receipts every year [we pay the tax for our farmland every year]. But this year, the Land Record Department has released a hand-written document that we have unlawfully invaded the land. After reading the statement, we were worried and went to the Land Record Department to make an inquiry. The department replied that they did as they were instructed from above. We’ve been working on this farmland since our great-great-grandparents. Now the municipality has tried to fence the land. Being aware of that, the farmers have opposed the action,” said Khin Maung Nyein, a local farmer.

According to the Mon State Parliament, the Municipal Department did not follow the “Land Acquisition Act” when confiscating the land. And the Mon State Parliament reported the case to the Central Committee for Scrutinizing Confiscated Farmlands and Other Lands in April 2018.

As the municipality has tried to fence our farmland, we feel worried when doing our farm work. After the confiscation, they did nothing with the land. The staff from the Municipal Department daren’t fence the farmland and went back as there were too many farmers who opposed them. But one day, they’ll come back and destroy [our property],” said U Tin Ohm, a local farmer.

The local farmers have been farming rice and raising livestock on the farmland for their living, and some farmers have built huts and stay on the farm as they have no house to live in, according to local farmer Daw Than Htay.

The Municipalilty said we unlawfully invaded the farmland and tried to confiscate our land. [In fact], we’ve been doing our living honestly. If our farmland is fenced, we will have nowhere else to go. Our livelihood totally relies on this farmland,” said a local farmer Daw Yin Than.

The issue of fencing the farmland and expelling the local farmers has been reported to the Mon State Parliament Committee for Scrutinizing Confiscated Farmlands and Other Lands.

The speech of the President included that if confiscated land isn’t used for the proposed project, the land must be given back to original owners and compensation must be paid to those who lost their jobs. But the government department didn’t follow the instruction. There is lots of confiscated land in Mon State. No one want to withdraw the land [even they didn’t do any project on the land],” said U Khin Maung Nyein.

When HURFOM contacted the administrator of Thar Yar Aye Ward he replied that no department informed him about the land dispute and he only knew about the issue after local farmers reported it to him.

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