Dhaka (Mizzima) – Army units have seized nearly 300 acres of farmland owned by local farmers in Sittwe and Ponnakyun Townships in Arakan State since the beginning of last month.
Sittwe-based Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 232 appropriated 80 acres of land located in the villages Kyay Taw, Taung Nar and Yoe Tayoke, while Ponnakyun-based LIB 550 is reported to have taken control of 200 acres. The incorporated lands are to be used for army agribusiness endeavors.
"We have learned they will undertake rice cultivation and rubber plantations on these seized lands. Rubber plantations are part of their 100-acres plan to be implemented as per instruction given by Western Command Headquarters. Rice cultivation is not under this plan," a person close to Sittwe-based LIB 232 told Mizzima.
"There was no prior notice and no compensation given to farmers who lost their lands. An army section led by an officer from LIB 232 and a survey team came and measured the lands. After some days they erected signboards saying 'Army owned area – Do not trespass' on the lands they seized," a villager from Taung Nar elaborated.
Similarly, local people said that Ponnakyun-based LIB 550 seized nearly 200 acres of land in Thit Tet, Kyauk Sone, Be Kho, Marlar, Kywe Lan Chaung, Myin Taw, Win Tein, Khwa Sone and Nga Pyauk Se villages.
"The lands were seized from almost every village. Our village lost over 70 acres in seized land and our village has suffered the most in this land seizure campaign. I heard that nearly 10 more acres were seized in the second week of this month in Win Tein village. This is the latest seizure of land during these days," a villager from Kyauk Sone related.
"Almost everything is scarce in our area. The villagers are unhappy with the seizure of their lands but they can do nothing to console themselves and let it be. They don't know how to lodge a complaint for the seizure of their lands due to their ignorance," he added.
Farmers had used the now army occupied land to primarily grow paddy, betel leaf and pepper.