Farmers' helper jailed for two years

Sept 25, 2009 (DVB), A Burmese opposition party member has been sentenced to two years' imprisonment after pledging to help two farmers facing charges of damaging government property.

Aye Myint, vice-chairperson of Magwe division's National League for Democracy (NLD) branch, was sentenced yesterday on charges of threatening a civil servant.

His arrest on 17 September followed an announcement made in a teashop owned by a forestry department official that he would assist two farmers whose land had been confiscated by the forestry department.

He had said that he would help the two file a complaint to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Rangoon.

The two farmers, Nyan Myint and Thura Aung, were accused by police of cutting down a tree on the confiscated land, bringing charges of damaging public property.

Aye Myint told DVB on 23 September, the day prior to his sentencing, that he was expecting to be imprisoned.

"I have many reasons to think like that. My family has been under watch by authorities," he said.

On two occasions he said members of the government proxy Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) had come to his house and thrown rocks.

Yesterday's sentencing coincided with a visit to the town by ILO's Burma liaison officer, Steve Marshall, regarding a land dispute between 108 local farmers and local authorities.

Marshall was denied a meeting with Nyan Myint and Thura Aung, reportedly because he had missed visiting hours.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

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