Forced payments for Myawaddy farmers

Nov 7, 2007 (DVB), Corn farmers in the border town of Myawaddy have been angered by an increase in the toll money demanded by local administration officials and Democratic Karen Buddhist Association members.

Farmers from Maedaw Kalay, Ingyin Myaing, Min Lat Pan, Phaluu and Thit Taw Po villages in the Myawaddy area of Karen state, along the Thai-Burmese border, have grown increasingly frustrated by the rise in the forced payments.

Local village peace and development council chairmen and officers from battalion 907 of the Burmese military-backed DKBA told the farmers before this year’s harvest season that they would have to pay a two baht toll on each bucket of corn seed.

This has now been increased to a charge of 10 baht per bucket harvested, followed by another 10 baht tax after sale of the crops.

"So it’s 20 baht per bucket of corn seed. It is impossible for us to pay that as we make only 10 baht profit from each bucket," said a farmer.

"We come to the border area to make living from farming as it is too hard to make living inside the county. Now this is going to leave us with nothing left to eat."

The farmers said the toll system was imposed this year by Maedaw Kalay VPDC U Soe Naing, Min Lat Pan VPDC U Yan Naung Soe and major Maung Soe of DKBA battalion 907.

The DKBA was unavailable for comment on the case.

Reporting by Htet Yazar

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