Military road construction destroys farmlands

Jan 23, 2008 (DVB), Farmlands in Taung-ngu and Pha-pon disctricts in Karen state have been destroyed by government troops as road construction and army camp expansion work begins in the area, locals said.

A local villager in Taung-ngu said that privately-owned plantations and farmlands alongside the Kyauk Kyi road connecting Htantabin town and Shan Lal Pyin village were razed by the government’s Military Operations Command 21 and 9, who are responsible for extending the route.

"They came and set up their military camps, and then started on their new road plans. Several farmlands in the area, owned by local villagers, were demolished with bulldozers," the villager said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"A lot of durian, betel nut and other kinds of plantations from Shan Lal Pyin village were destroyed too."

The villager said that the locals were furious with the military but could do nothing as they had no legal assistance or knowledge about the correct procedures.

"We don’t know where to file our complaint and we don’t dare to do it. Also, we have to worry about our daily food first of all before we can start dealing with this."

In Pha-pon district, road building by government troops has made villagers relocate deeper into the jungle for fear of a possible new offensive.

Locals said the aim of the new road projects could be to aid mobilisation and provide supply routes for government troops so that they can carry out more offensives against KNU-controlled areas.

Reporting by Saw Kanyaw

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