Owner watches confiscated farmland sell for housing

October 5, 2012

HURFOM: For more than half a century, U Nyan Sein has worked on his farm in Kaw Taung, part of the Tenasserim region in southern Burma. The land was legally passed to his family in 1958 by the ruling Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, and he still holds the land grant documentation. However, over the past fifteen years, U Nyan Sein’s cultivation has been squeezed onto just two of his 8.52 acres as encroaching land confiscation pushed his property line back. Now, he is urgently advocating for the return of his farm, which has begun to be parceled off for housing.

In 1997, Thai company Dad Ta Man reached an agreement with the resident Burmese military to pour concrete for the construction of Naing Lwin Road in Kaw Taung. At that time, local authorities asked U Nyan Sein’s permission to use two of his acres to house construction workers and store materials. U Nyan Sein did not consent, and the land was confiscated shortly after. Later, local government authorities looking to expand the city boundaries appropriated three more acres of land, despite U Nyan Sein repeatedly presenting his proof of ownership. Eventually, the vegetation on the seized property was bulldozed, and his mango, betel nut, coconut, and jackfruit trees were demolished.

Once the Naing Lwin Road was paved, U Soe Myint Ning of Kaw Taung’s Land Survey Department and Quarter Administrator U Kyaw Myo divided the almost six acres of U Nyan Sein’s confiscated farmland into plots for housing development. U Soe Myint Ning advertised that each plot of land, 40’ x 50’, would sell for around 5 million kyat, and it is believed that some have already been purchased. Earlier this year, U Soe Myint Ning transferred to the land survey department in Mone Yaw, leaving no one in Kaw Taung willing to answer for the housing deal.

On September 3, U Nyan Sein approached U Than Tun, the regional organizer of the Democratic Party (Myanmar), to ask for assistance with preparing and sending copies of a letter describing the land abuses to President Thein Sein, province and district police, and the military battalion stationed in Kaw Taung District.

“Even though we sent a letter to President Thein Sein about the land confiscation in Kaw Taung, we have not heard anything about solving the problem. The land survey department and other government departments are keeping quiet, too. We want them to resolve this issue immediately. We hope we can get justice in the new government system,” said U Than Tun.

U Nyan Sein said, “Now that I know the authorities are selling my land, I feel bad because I worked on my farm for 50 years. I have been losing this land over a long period of time, and now they turned it into housing plots to sell for a lot of money. I only want to get my farm back.”

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