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Five family members—including two 70-year old grandparents—were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment plus hard labour on 28 October after harvesting paddy on disputed land in Irrawaddy Division’s Kyunggyi Village.
The family was sentenced while standing trial for another case which began last year after the family planted paddy on land which they originally owned but had lost when they failed to repay a loan to the plaintiff, Aye Nyein, who sued them for trespassing and destruction of property.
The first case was still pending when the elderly couple and their children entered the field again and harvested the paddy, after which they were charged with theft and given six-month jail terms plus hard labour.
A police officer from Maw Kyung police station who spoke with DVB said, “They were on trial for trespassing. During the trial they went to harvest the paddy, so they were convicted for theft.”
After the verdict, the family was sent to Myaung Mya prison, according to the police officer.
The incident began three years ago when the family borrowed money from Aye Nyein and agreed to put up their land as collateral. After failing to repay the loan, Aye Nyein sued the family for trespassing and destruction of property in 2013, a case which is still ongoing.
The youngest children—aged 8 and 10—have been placed under the guardianship of a farmers’ assistance NGO while their parents serve their jail sentences.