Unidentified perpetrators destroyed corn farms in Hsihseng Township—in the Pa-O Self-Administered Region of southern Shan State—for two consecutive nights, farmers said.
According to the farmers, nearly 35 acres of corn plants owned by at least 10 farmers were destroyed on the nights of July 3 and 4.
“I have 12 acres of corn. All of my corn plants were destroyed,” farmer Khun Maung Gyi told SHAN. “I have lost all of my investment in the corn farm. I don’t know how to return the debt of more than 20 lakh kyat (more than US$1,460) that I borrowed from other people. I don’t know how to solve this problem.”
The Burma Army seized more than 1,900 acres of land in Hsihseng in 1996, including the farmland on which the destroyed corn was planted.
Farmers said that the Burma Army didn’t inform them that they had confiscated this land, and did not pay them compensation. Land disputes have been ongoing between farmers in five villages in Hsihseng since May. The Burma Army has prosecuted more than 70 farmers in the area.
“The corn plants were planted on the military’s confiscated land… farmers planted the corn on their own farms,” San Win Maung, head of Aung Chintha ward in Hsihseng, told SHAN. “During the daytime, soldiers guard the confiscated land. The corn plants were destroyed at night.”
He said that the cornfields are located west of the bases of LIB 423 and LIB 424 in Hsihseng.
“The corn plants were destroyed by a group of people. Farmers don’t know who destroyed their corn. It’s impossible that other farmers destroyed corn belonging to other farmers,” San Win Maung explained.
It is a tradition in Hsihseng Township that farmers help one another during the planting season, and destruction of one another’s crops is unheard of.
“Our corn plants were more than three feet high. Some corn plants had ears of corn. The height of the corn plants is not all the same because farmers planted their corn at different times,” farmer Khun Maung Gyi told SHAN.
The farmers have said they will take legal action against the perpetrators. The destruction of their crops will create economic hardships, including difficulties in paying school fees and maintaining food security, they added.