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Almost 200 farmers protested in Irrawaddy Division’s capital town Bassein yesterday against a possible government plan to confiscate their land near Ngwesaung beach resort.
Starting in 2000, the government’s Myanmar Fisheries Department has been confiscating farmland, between Ngwesaung and another beach resort town Chaungtha, belonging to local villagers without compensation. The farmers staged the protest yesterday after learning from the Land Registry Department that a further 800 acres of land was being earmarked for appropriation.
“Previously, they confiscated about three acres of land and now about 800 more are being tipped for confiscation. We are still allowed to work on the land for now but we are worried for the future,” said one of the protesting farmers, too scared to give his name.
“We are only requesting the authorities cancel the plan,” he added.
At 10am yesterday morning, the protesters began marching across Bassein town to the Regional [Division] Minister’s office and handed over a letter demanding their land be removed from the confiscation list.
The protesters said the letter was accepted by officials at the minister’s office and also given a promise that the minister would pay a field-visit to their villages in about three days to investigate the matter.
Myint Naing, member of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Network, who went along with the farmers on the protesters said, “I hope and believe that the farmers will be able to get their land back because it was confiscated unfairly and I hope that truth will win.”
The protest was watched and photographed by government security officers in civilian clothing but no harassment was reported.