Authorities demand money and goods from farmers

Jun 4, 2008 (DVB), Local authorities in Zee Gone township, Bago division, have demanded that farmers give them money, rice and buffalo, which they say will go to help cyclone victims.

Farmers in Bago division’s Zee Gone township said they were forced by local authorities to pay 1000 kyat from their agricultural loans into the cyclone fund.

"We also have to give 3 viss of rice grain for each acre of farm and each village group in the area was asked to donate three buffalo which would be worth around 350,000 kyat at today's prices," one farmer said.

"They are robbing us and using the cyclone as an excuse."

Locals in Nyaung Lay Pin township said they have also been forced to give rice grain or 48,000 kyat to local authorities for the cyclone victims.

"Township authorities told us we have a responsibility to contribute to the rehabilitation of devastated areas in Irrawaddy and that we have to donate whether we like it or not," a Nyaung Lay Pin resident said.

"Business owners were also asked to pay between 30,000 and 50,000 kyat."

Farmers from Nwartehgone village in Zee Gone have previously said they were forced to give almost one fifth of their agricultural loans to local authorities, including 200 kyat per acre for cyclone victims.

The farmers claimed the cyclone donation was taken by the village Peace and Development Council chairman, who then demanded another 200 kyat from them to replace it.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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