Pa-O farmers from southern Shan State gathered in protest Tuesday after their farms were seized by the Tatmadaw.
Burma Army LIB-423 and LIB-424 confiscated 900 acres on May 30 in Hsihseng township, located in the Pa-O Self-Administered Region. On the same day, the Army charged 70 farmers with trespassing under article 447 and took their tractors.
San Win Maung, head of Aung Chan Tha ward, in Hsihseng township, told SHAN that with their land and farm vehicles gone the farmers cannot start planting before the rain starts. “With the rainy season coming, they’re in trouble. They need to plant their corn and paddy.”
“These farms are their hereditary land and they have their land ownership documents,” he says.
Charges were laid against 70 farmers at Hsihseng Myoma police station.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers say the government should help them, not prosecute them.
Until the dispute with Tatmadaw is resolved, the farmers, who cannot cultivate their crops, are out of work.
“We’ve been farming this land for so many years. If we can’t grow our paddy, what will we do? We can’t go to work in another country during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said one farmer. “The Burma Army unfairly confiscated our farms.”
A video of soldiers from LIB-423 and LIB-424 ordering farmers to stop working in their fields and sending their farm vehicles to Hsihseng police station was widely shared on Facebook.
Many villagers are concerned as land confiscation by Tatmadaw is increasing in both southern and northern Shan State.