Some 200 residents of the Rangoon satellite town of Dala were evicted on New Year’s Eve from the homes they had lived in for more than 30 years.
A combined force of around 40 police officers, fire department workers and municipal officers were on hand on the evening of 31 December to ensure that the so-called “squatters’ were moved along without incident and that their makeshift homes – mostly wooden huts – were destroyed.
According to a female resident of the affected barrio in Tadachaung village, the 200 evictees were left with nowhere to go.
“I was born here and have been living here for over 30 years,” she told DVB by phone on 1 January.
“On Wednesday evening, our home was destroyed. The authorities said we are not allowed to stay here any longer. In total over 100 houses – mostly huts – were destroyed and around 200 people were left homeless,” she said.
On 1 January, some of the evicted residents were seen rebuilding their houses on the same site; others were camping out in a nearby field.
“If we don’t rebuild them today, we’ll have no place to sleep tonight,” the woman said.
“Being manual labourers, we do not have the money to move elsewhere. Our only option is to rebuild our homes where they stood. We know the authorities will come back to destroy them again, but we have no other choice.”
A police officer in Pyawbwegyi village-tract, which falls under the same local jurisdiction as Tadachaung, said the decision to evict the residents came from the local administration and municipal department.
“It didn’t have anything to do with the police,” he said. “This was a decision by the local administrators and municipal officials. To the best of my knowledge, the land in question is owned by the Housing Department. So far, we have not been informed as to how or where the squatters will be resettled.”
Dala township administrators and municipal department officers were unavailable for comment.