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Gov’t’s IB (61) firing range expands; local farmers’ plantations seized

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Landmark inscribed “Army Land”
Landmark inscribed “Army Land”
Reported by IMNA, The government’s Infantry Battalion (IB) No. 61 has been confiscating local farmers’ plantation areas surrounding the battalion’s

shooting range, in Kyun Laung Ywa Thit [Village], Ye Township.

Recently, the IB No 61 set up signposts reading “Army Land” on various areas of the plantations belonging to 11 plantation owners, for the battalion’s shooting range. On August 5, the Military Operations Command (MOC) 19 based in Ye Town invited the plantation owners to meet them, pressuring the owners to provide their signatures to acknowledge their land is now army land.

“The life span of our rubber plantations is between 5 years to 30 years. Confiscating our plantations affects us a lot. Whatever it is, we cannot provide our signatures,” said a plantation owner, whose plantation is part of the land confiscation.

According to those plantation owners, the land that the Tatmadaw is going to take over is land related to Form 7 regarding the rights to work on the plantations, legally enacted by the union government in 2014.

In 1990, the Home Affair Ministry transferred 92 acres to the IB No. 61 as land for their firing range, but the battalion only used about 20 acres. Thus, in previous years, the land area for the shooting field was left incomplete. The IB No. 61 reported this to the respective government department, requesting to inspect and consider the space.

Following up the case, in 2014 a group of inspectors from land committee organisations came to the field and marked the land. When the land record department transferred the land over to the government [IB No. 61] as a firing range, the department incorrectly scaled the map. The new map revealed that 21.67 acres of land was transferred to the shooting field, according to the report by the land inspection group.

Based on the inspection group’s suggestion, on August 23, the Mon State Government sent a letter to Mon State’s Land record department, to consider the 21.67 acres of land for the shooting field – as it was wrongly scaled. The letter was sent with the date of August 23, 2014.

Copies of the letter were sent to Infantry Battalion No. 61, the Southeast Command, the Minister of Mon State Security and Border Affairs, and the General Administration Department of Ye Township.

On May 18, 2015, U Htun Min Htwe and U Htay Aung, two farmer representatives, sent a petition to U Htay Oo, the chairman of Pyithu Hluttaw Ctizens’ Fundamental Rights, Democracy and Human Rights Committee, explaining the land issues and difficulties that farmers are facing. On May 21, 2015, they also requested Mi Myint Than, Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Ye Township Constituency, help address the problem.

On May 21, 2015, Mi Myint Than sent a letter to Pyiduangsu Hluttaw Chairman U Thura Shwe Mann, requesting assistance to solve the land seizure issue faced by orchard and rubber plantation owners.

However, in order to complete the shooting range, MOC 19 and IB 61 continue to confiscate acres from each of the 11 plantations.

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