Farmers decry fishpond-flooding trial as ‘unfair’

Farmers decry fishpond-flooding trial as ‘unfair’

A fishery owner is pressing charges against nine farmers in Nyaunglebin Township, Pegu Division, for flooding his fish pond.

One of the accused farmers, who requested anonymity, said he and his fellow villagers were being sued under penal code article 427 (“Mischief causing damage”) because in November they had punched holes in the embankment between their farmland and the fishery in an effort to drain rainwater from their fields. As a result, the pond was inundated.

“In November there was heavy raining, and some 60 acres of farmland belonging to 40 locals was flooded,” he told DVB. “Our paddy and bean crops were destroyed, so we spoke to local authorities about it and then punched holes in the embankment to drain the floodwater.”

He said it was “unfair” that the farmers were being sued, since they had modified the embankment with official permission. Nonetheless, a trial began at the Nyaunglebin Township court on Monday.

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The farmers were released on bail set at 160,000 kyat (US$160) each. They reached out to the township’s administrator and irrigation department chief but have been told they must face the charges on the grounds that it is what the local administrator called “a personal dispute”.

The Nyaunglebin township administrator and fishery operator were unavailable for comment.

The farmers face a maximum of two years in prison, a fine or both if found guilty.

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