Some 350 farmers from Burma’s Mandalay Division are facing court cases related to land-grabbing, most of them brought since Aung San Suu Kyi’s government took power a year ago, lawyers and activists said Thursday.
Farmers locked in a land dispute with Burma’s armed forces pledged to renew their fight after being released from jail on Friday, in a case testing leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s resolve to challenge the military’s economic interests.
Scores of farmers in southern Shan State’s Taunggyi township, who were facing trial after the Burmese military pressed criminal trespass charges against them over a land confiscation dispute, were sentenced to one month in prison on Thursday.
Residents from 22 villages around the town of Tigyaing said they lost a total of 16,632 acres to land grabs by the military government between 2005 and 2008 to make way for the Tagaung Nickel Mining Project and other ventures.
More than 95 percent of confiscated lands – some 350,000 acres – have been returned to farmers across Burma, according to the government’s Land Utilisation Management Committee, noting that just 17,091 acres are left to be returned nationwide.