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Local villagers in Karenni State’s Hpruso Township sent a letter to Burma’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing for permission to farm on land that was allegedly seized from them by the Burmese Army in 1993.
Residents of Solyaku village in northern Hpruso Township said that the 531st Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) seized more than 1,200 acres of their farmland, prompting them to stage a “plough protest” in the land, which has been cordoned off. The battalion then tried to sue Thae Rah, one of the leaders of the protesting farmers, for trespassing, but Hpruso Township court dismissed the lawsuit, citing a lack of evidence.
The villagers sent a letter to Min Aung Hlaing on Tuesday requesting that they be allowed to farm on the disputed land. Copies of the letter were also sent to the regional chief minister, the land management committee, local government authorities and the 531st LIB.
“The letter highlighted the LIB-531’s confiscation of land in the village and their attempt to prosecute villagers who protested,” said Htoo Reh, a resident of Solyaku. “We requested that the military commander-in-chief officially let us return to work on our farmland.”
The Solyaku villagers said they have sent a similar letter to Burmese President Thein Sein and relevant government departments, as well as to the Karenni State Progressive Party last year, but have received no responses.
Hpruso’s Land Management Department said that they have previously held talks with local- and union-level parliament representatives regarding this dispute, but no decision has been reached.