Burma`s Military Confiscates Mon Rubber Farms

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Burma`s Military Confiscates Mon Rubber Farms
By: Lawi Weng, The Irrawaddy
01 August 2011
 

The Burmese military`s South-East Regional Command based in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, confiscated about 600 acres of rubber plantation in Thanbyuzayat Township in the second week of July to build a military base, according to local residents.

"They have already measured the land and put up signboards that say the land belongs to the military. At least 600 acres of rubber trees were confiscated," said Nai Kon Htit, a resident in Thanbyuzayat Township who lives near the confiscated land.

The area where the confiscation occurred is called "Japanese Mountain" because it was one of the main Burmese bases for Japanese soldiers during WW II. It is located about 5 miles from the city of Thanbyuzayat.

"The land measurement workers told us that the Military`s Regional Southeast Command is taking this land to build a military base for Light Infantry Division (LID) No. 33," said Nai Kon Htit.

LID No. 33 is currently based in Sagaing Division.

Nai Tin Aung, a former executive committee member of the New Mon State Party who lives in Panga Village, Thanbyuzayat Township, said, "Many victims of the land confiscation are from Panga Village. Some people own over 10,000 plants. Some own 1,000 plants."

"The military can do whatever they want to do. Rubber plantation owners cannot do anything. They have broken hearts," said Nai Tin Aung.

The rubber plants in the area confiscated have been growing for six years, and three hundreds plants cost 10.2 million kyat (US $13,700) to grow, according to sources. Rubber is the main source of income for ethnic Mon people in Mon State, where most of Burma`s rubber is grown.

"It is sad for the victims that their rubber plants have been taken right when they were looking good," said Nai Kon Htit.

The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) has reported that about 12,000 acres of rubber plantation land was confiscated by Burmese government troops along the highway from Moulmein to Ye Township in Mon state between the years 2000 and 2010.

HURFOM documented the land confiscated by the military and published a report titled, "No Land to Farm."

The victims did not receive compensation, and many were forced to work in Thailand. Some went to live in the Mon refugee camp in Halockani after becoming unemployed.

In 2011, land in Mon State has been confiscated in three areas: first in Kyaikmayaw Township, second in Ye Township and most recently in Thanbyuzayat Township, with about 4,000 acres of rubber plants confiscated in total.

Nai Aue Mon, the coordinator of HURFOM`s Human Rights Documentation and Dissemination Project, said that the land confiscation occurred in Mon State when the military expanded their bases or as part of its "self-reliance program," for which the army seizes rubber plantations to earn an income to support its battalions and their families.

Even under Burma`s new government, the people do not have the right to protect their land and property, according to HURFOM.

"The government needs to have land and property rights to protect the people," said Aue Mon.

As there are no land and property rights in Burma, the people in Mon State live in fear that their rubber trees will be taken by the military after they have invested the time and money to grow the trees.

Original article: http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=21806

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