Junta leases 50,000 acres of farmland to Bangladesh

Oct 10, 2008 (DVB), The Burma junta's second-in-command, vice senior general Maung Aye, has signed a contract in Dhaka leasing 50,000 acres of paddy fields in Arakan state to the Bangladeshi government.

The majority of the paddy fields are in Myauk Oo and on Man Aung island.

Although the paddy fields are said to be owned by the military, farmers in Arakan state say that some of this land has been seized from local farmers without compensation and they are worried that more land will be seized to make up the 50,000 acres.

Than Hlaing, joint secretary of the Arakan National League for Democracy, said land confiscation could have serious repercussions for local food supplies.

"In Arakan state, we are enduring the consequences of starvation every day," Than Hlaing said.

"Despite this, they are confiscating paddy fields and turning the people into tenant farmers," he said.

"If they lease out 50,000 acres of paddy fields, I am certain that the people of Arakan will starve."

Saw Mi Mi Than from the Arakan Women's Union’s Bangladesh office also condemned the deal.

"We are urging the Bangladeshi government not to lease the 50,000 acres of paddy fields forcibly seized from the Arakan people," she said.

According to online newspapers from Bangladesh, the two countries have discussed taxation issues and the demarcation of sea boundaries between Burma and Bangladesh.

The repatriation of Rohingya refugees is also due to be discussed.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min

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