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Residents in about 50 apartment flats in Burma’s second city of Mandalay are being ordered by police to vacate within two weeks.
The majority of the nearly 200 homeowners in the 30th Street block have been there for a decade, but were summoned to a meeting on 3 December with Mandalay division police chief Aye Chan where he gave the order.
“The division police chief Aye Chan told us to start looking for somewhere else to go,” said one resident. “[We] told him that we bought these flats with money and asked for details on the eviction and compensation.”
But according to the resident, no details were provided. “The only thing he knew was that we were to start looking for new places to go and move out of the apartments. He also warned us not to cause damage to the buildings, otherwise we will be prosecuted.”
The flats, initially valued at around three million kyat ($US3000) each when the residents bought them in 2000, are now double the price. They had been owned by Pado Aung San, a former senior official in the Karen National Union who defected in 1998 is now a member of the election-winning Union and Soldiarity and Development Party (USDP) candidate.
The land that the apartments are built on is owned by the Burma Police Force. Pado Aung San was permitted to lease the land and build the apartments to sell.
“There is an agreement in the contract [upon buying the flats] that our [ownership] of the apartments shall exist as long as the buildings survive,” said the resident. “But one year later, we were called by the police who told us to sign an acknowledgement that we agree to move out of the apartments when it’s necessary for the State. Previously, we were offered 60 million kyat ($US6000) [from individuals] to sell our flat but we refused because we didn’t know we would be evicted like this.”
Another resident in the buildings said that when they had complained about having to sign the agreement, authorities “told us there was nothing to worry as the agreement was only in principle – the procedure meant that no one would tell us to move out, they said”.
Rumours are circulating that the apartments have been bought by Chinese businessmen, and that other blocks in Mandalay are also facing similar problems.
DVB was unable to contact the police in Mandalay.