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About 600 tenants who work in Rangoon’s North Okkalapa township on land they rented from the Burmese Army’s 435th, 436th and 391st Light Infantry Battalions have been told to move off the property by the end of May after receiving a 10-day notice.
The tenants, who were raising livestock and managing shops, said they have rented the land from the army for 15 years. They received notice from the army on 22 May that they had to be off the land by 31 May.
“We rented the land for about 15 years and [the army] is now kicking out tenants from most of the land that belongs to its battalions in Rangoon division. They provided no reason for the eviction apart from stating in the notification that it was due to a ‘decision made in a meeting,” said a tenant who runs a shop on the land.
“It would be extremely difficult to relocate all these animals within a short period of time. They should have warned us like six months to a year in advance so that we can find a new location.”
According to the shop owner, the tenants were told their property would be demolished if they haven’t moved out by the 31st.
“Also, school’s open [on June 1] and we’ve already enlisted our children in schools nearby. Now what are we supposed to do? Withdraw them?” said the shop owner.
“We are going to lose everything we owned here and will be forced to start over from square one.”
Burmese authorities have a history of heavy-handedness towards complainants of land confiscation and forced labour.