Farmers unlawfully detained by UMEH

Hundreds of farmers in Irrawaddy’s Dedaye township are being unlawfully detained by military owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Co. Ltd when they can’t repay debts loaned to them by the company.

Last year, the UMEH gave out 50,000 Kyat agricultural loans to farmers in Dedaye township which they were supposed to pay back by the end of the growing season. However, the farmers were unable to pay back the loans after their crops were destroyed by unusual weather patterns experienced in the past year, and they weren’t able to make any profit.

One of the farmers detained by the UMEH said army officials from the company rounded up farmers, who owed them money, at a rice mill and kept them in detention there until they paid back the money.

“I am a farmer from Daydaye’s Kalargontan village and I owe some money to the [UMEH] – we have been unable to pay back the debt.  Recently we were summoned to Tantayar Rice Mill in the town by army captain Myint Than Aung.   When we went there, he detained us in warehouses without any questioning,” said the farmer.

“They released those who paid back the money but a lot of people who were unable to pay remained in detention. There are over 100 people currently detained. I had to leave my son there as a substitute to come back out to find the money.”

Another farmer who was also detained told DVB he had to acknowledge upon receiving the loan that he would pay it back in the harvesting season.  However, due to bad weather in the cropping season he was unable to do so as he didn’t make any profit.

National League for Democracy’s Central Executive Committee and Social Assistance Wing member Ohn Kyain and said the group’s Legal Advocacy Wing and Farmer’s Network are preparing to provide legal assistance to the farmers.

“I have linked [the farmers] with our Legal Advocacy Wing member U Nyan Win and he acknowledged this as an arbitrary detention. They have accepted the farmer’s complaint and are preparing to raise it to concerned government authorities,” said Ohn Kyaing.

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