Over 50 residents from eight villages in Monywa, Saigang division, were left devastated after authorities fenced up over 300 acres of farmland that falls within the Latpadaung Mining Project area.
The residents have been refusing compensation for land taken from them to make way for the expansion of the mining project.
“In total 11.54 acres of my farmland was fenced up and now I have lost all hope,” said Yi Yi Win from Sete village.
“They bulldozed my bean and sesame crops, dumped the soil on the land and sprayed it with some kind of acid.”
Operations resumed at the controversial copper mine in October and authorities began bulldozing land, causing residents to renew their protests.
Recommendations by the Latpadaung Investigation Commission, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, suggested that mine operators should create 1900 acres of farmland elsewhere, to substitute the residents’ lost land.
But this has not happened.
“Aung San Suu Kyi when she was here said we are allowed to turn down compensation and relocation of our villages,” said Amar Kyi from Sete village.
“So we decided to refuse compensation and not relocate our village, but despite this, they confiscated our land by force.”
The residents do not want to give up the land because they have been farming it for generations. Yi Yi Win said that without it, they will have nothing to pass on to their children.
“The money they are compensating won’t be enough to survive on and it will leave our children with nothing to rely on. This is why we just want the land but not the money.”
The Latpadaung implementation committee revealed last month that a US$1.68 million budget has been allocated for regional development, including programmes of job creation for locals; education; healthcare; electricity supply; supplying potable water; and transportation.