Court ‘cheats’ Yuzana land grab victims

Farmers in Kachin state battling a court case against a huge land grab by the powerful Yuzana construction company say that judges have awarded them less compensation than the company initially offered.

The court in Kachin capital Myitkyina ordered Yuzana, which is owned by business tycoon and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) chairman Htay Myint, to pay 80,000 kyat ($US8) per acre of paddy and 150,000 kyat ($US150) per house confiscated.

The company had initially offered to pay the roughly 100 farmers up to 100,000 kyat ($US100) for an acre of paddy. “But now the court set the amount at 80,000 kyat. We are very disappointed… we want our land back,” said Zaru Tee, one of those involved in the case.

The farmers had claimed that Htay Myint had orchestrated the illegal confiscation up to 200,000 acres of farmland in the northern state, but a court in October absolved him of any wrongdoing.

Yuzana took over swathes of land in the Hukawng Valley, which was last year declared the world’s largest tiger reserve, for the planting of sugar cane. Locals there said that bulldozers had been sent in to flatten some five villages in preparation for the plantations. Reports also claim that employees have been given weapons training.

Income generation and schooling for the farmers’ children has also been affected.

“After losing the land, I couldn’t continue to send my children to school. Because, they didn’t get an education, my children have ended up as day workers without steady income for food,” said Zaru Tee.

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