Victim of land confiscation facing jail

By Naw Noreen

A farmer whose land and property was confiscated and destroyed by Rangoon authorities faces a possible jail term after being charged with trespassing.

Zaw Weik had initially refused to leave his Tagondai village land when approached in 2008 by two fish farmers, Aung Shein and Khin Myint, who were accompanied by local authorities. He claims they then destroyed his two houses and farmland in two separate incidents, in 2009 and January 2010.

He added that his bean crops were razed whilst he was attending a court hearing in March this year.

Rangoon division authorities are attempting to sue Zaw Weik on charges of trespassing that stem from his refusal to leave the land. He claims also that the death of his son earlier this year was linked to the case.

“My younger son took photos of the people destroying our house and the crops and he was assassinated on 10 June [2010] under the guise of an accident when a motorbike crushed into a shop stall,” Zaw Weik said.

“They are hiding the truth of the assassination. Our reports on the two incidents were barely read and absolutely no action was taken.” He added that both sides in the trial have finished presenting arguments and a verdict is due to be heard next week.

Land confiscation by authorities in Burma is rife. The majority of cases involve land been taken for infrastructure projects, although numerous cases of farmland being forcibly converted to grow specific crops abound.

Only the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) is officially mandated to deal with cases of land confiscation, although groups such as Guiding Star, run by lawyer Aye Myint, handle complaints.

Democratic Voice of Burma

Democratic Voice of Burma

The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) is a non-profit Burmese media organization committed to responsible journalism.

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