Land seized from farmers for steel factory

Dec 8, 2008 (DVB), Over 1200 acres of land have been taken from farmers in villages between Myin Chan and Taung Tha townships in Mandalay to be used in the development of a military-owned steel factory, according to locals.

A local farmer said Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, known locally as U Paing, had started seizing the land a few years ago.

"The government’s U Paing company started seizing hundreds of acres of land from local farmers in Hnanphat, Phattaw and Sakha villages between Myin Chan and Taung Tha for a steel factory development in the area," the farmer said.

"Farmlands surrounding the factory were destroyed and the land was used for roads and electric cable towers," he said.

"They just took the land from us just like that by showing off their guns without even waiting until we'd finished harvesting our crops."

The farmers were told they would receive compensation for the loss of their land, but they have so far received nothing.

"The company promised to give us compensation for our land and we had to buy application forms for 3-4000 kyat, but in the end we didn't receive anything from them," the farmer said.

Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings is part-owned by the Burmese ministry of defence, while the rest of the company is owned mainly by senior military officials and their families.

It is among the companies designated by the US Treasury, which means that any assets it holds within US jurisdiction will be frozen and US citizens are prohibited from conducting business with the company.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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