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Farmer hangs himself after failing to pay debts

Mar 6, 2009 (DVB), A farmer from Ywatthit village in Rangoon's Kayan township, which was badly affected by Cyclone Nargis, has hanged himself because he could not pay his debts.

"He hanged himself after three debtors came to see him noon yesterday," said farmer Than Swe.

The corpse was sent to Kayan general hospital on 5 March and identified as 63-year old Soe Lay.

"He made an appointment with a tractor trailer driver to sell his beans this morning but at about nine his son found him hanged in his cattle hut," said Than Swe, who identified the corpse.

Soe Lay is the tenth farmer to have committed suicide within six months after failing to pay off debts. Than Swe thinks the situation could get worse.

"The farmers are in big trouble," he said. "The government should urgently issue a type of loan. People are starving here. We farmers can’t solve it."

Than Swe is a well-known farmer-cum-lawyer in Kayan township. He had been marking the ‘Peasant’s Day’ privately every year on 2 March in a show of defiance.

But the local authorities banned him for doing the same this year and he wrote a letter of complaint to the capital Naypyidaw.

He advised other farmers not to hang themselves but instead to write to the authorities concerned when they face difficulties such as these.

"The reason for farmers' economic crisis is that the prices of beans and rice are not good," he said.

"They are selling working bulls and buffaloes and paddy fields. People can’t buy them anymore. The whole village is in debt, and only 5 out of 100 could pay their debts."

No authority member could be contacted for comments.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw