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The Zaykabar company, which is owned by well-known business tycoon and Union Solidarity and Development Party’s parliamentarian Khin Shwe, published a statement in several weekly journals warning individuals against filing lawsuits that threaten to discredit the company.
In the announcement, published in the Envoy weekly and several other journal outlets, Zaykabar’s statement addressed the incident regarding a dispute with local tenant farmers over 800 acres of farmland in Shwenanthar village in Rangoon’s Mingalardon township.
The statement pointed a finger an unnamed ‘political party’ that was attempting to defame Zakaybar.
Chairman of the Peace and Diversity Party Nay Myo Wei, who has been providing legal counsel to the farmers involved in the row, said, the ‘political party’ in the announcement referred to his organisation.
The party’s chair said he was ready to confront Zaykabar in court if necessary.
“There is no other party getting involved in the case – only the Peace and Diversity Party. So as the chairman of the PDP on behalf of the party, I, Nay Myo Wei, hereby claim responsibility for what I said [about Zaykabar] and if they want to sue us, they are free to do so under any law,” said Nay Myo Wei.
“As long as there won’t be any lawlessness in the case, I [accept the challenge] – they can throw any cards on the table and I will follow.”
On 10 May, a row broke out between employees from Zaykabar and farmers after the company began to bulldoze land in Shwenanthar village. The farmers in the area responded by taking to the fields with two tractors and standing their ground.
The farmers later left the field after Mingalardon township’s authorities mediated the situation. But the Zaykabar bulldozers later demolished embankments built by the farmers, said local resident Kyaw Hsein
The published statement claimed the company had already provided compensation at the amount demanded by the farmers, who in return signed an agreement renouncing their tenant status.
The division’s land committee is currently in the process of documenting the accounts of the 80 farmers involved in the dispute and held a hearing on 5 June.
The issue of land rights in Burma is a sensitive one: existing laws do little to prevent confiscation by government-aligned figures, and that looks set to continue if a bill currently being debated in parliament comes into force. The Land Act will effectively allow powerful tycoons to monopolise arable land and force off small-scale farmers.
Currently, most farmers are ostensibly tenants on their land, and are forced to share a portion of revenue with the government. Since the scandal arose, the Shwenanthar village farmers have lost their tenant status.