Soldiers reportedly dug a channel to keep locals off the land—which has been designated for the expansion of a golf course.
Farmers in northern Shan State say they are facing problems getting to their farms since the Burma Army has blocked people from walking across through land that the military seized in Lashio last year.
The land in question is farmland near Nawng Kham village in Lashio Township, and has been designated for the expansion of a golf course as of February. The Burma Army’s Tank Battalion No. 7005 was reportedly responsible for taking the land, and has accused locals of trespassing on it.
The battalion dug a wide channel separating the 400 acres of seized land from other farmland; villagers filled it in on April 19, so that they could walk across the area.
“They don’t want villagers to cross the seized land, but farmers have to cross the seized land to reach their farmland,” Sai Kham, of Nawng Kham village, told SHAN. “They came to watch us when we were filling in the channel with earth, but they didn’t say anything, because there were many villagers.”
Sai Kham said that soldiers then removed the earth using backhoes on April 20.
“Now the channel is wider than the previous one. It’s really difficult for farmers to walk through,” he explained.
Villagers originally requested that the military not expand the golf course into the area, but Capt Sithu Aung from the Tank Battalion in question told locals that the military was in possession of ownership documents for the land.
Parliamentarian Sai Wan Leng Kham told SHAN that he had reported this as a case of land grabbing to the legislature, and it had been agreed by the government that the military would need to withdraw from the land, with district authorities returning the farmland to the original local owners.
“This is customary land. Farmers have worked on this farmland for so many years. People have suffered a lot since the army seized this farmland,” he said. “The government’s land investigation committee already decided to return the farmland. But the army rejected a withdrawal from this farmland. If the army really loves the people, they should withdraw. I want to demand that the responsible state and regional level officials solve this problem.”
Sai Wan Leng Kham first requested that the farmland be returned to villagers in parliament in June of last year.