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Pantanaw farmers rally against land grabs

Farmers from Pantanaw Township rally, demanding the return of land they claim to have been confiscated in 1999-2000. (PHOTO: DVB).

Local farmers from Pantanaw Township in the Irrawaddy delta staged a protest rally on Friday, demanding the return of land they claim was confiscated in 1999-2000.

Over 1,000 acres of farmland in a number of village-tracts were allegedly seized by the Pho Lamin Company, a military-backed firm under the auspices of the Southwest Regional Military Command.

Villagers from Khanwekabo, Pyalin, Meimapye, Hteinkalagon and Tuchaung say they have received no compensation from the company prior to or after their eviction.

Protest organiser Maung Ni, who claims 33 acres of the confiscated land as his, said that villagers have been demanding the return of their farmland since President Thein Sein’s civilian government took office in 2011. He said victims of the land grab have repeatedly staged plough protests and reached out to the regional government, but have been repeatedly ignored.

The protest on 10 July, held with official permission from local police, was joined by hundreds of local farmers. Demonstrators chanted slogans demanding official land registration programmes; the suspension of fishery operations on the confiscated farmland; and the eviction of Pho Lamin Company from the region.