Dec 15, 2008 (DVB), Farmers from Natmauk township, Magwe division, have been banned by the army from working on their land after filing a report with the International Labour Organisation about land confiscation.
A local resident said the ban was imposed in October when five farmers were arrested for complaining to the ILO.
Farmers who defied the ban and picked their own cotton have been severely punished by the military, the resident said.
Since the ban, residents said the army has been harvesting cotton and tomato crops from the farmers' fields and selling them.
Fifty farmers from from Myetyeh-kan, Nyaungywalay, Ywathit and Nyaukpauk villages in Natmauk township reported that the army had seized more than 5000 acres of land in 2000 and demanded 30,000 kyats an acre per year from each owner.
The farmers reported it to the ILO office in Rangoon and Hla Soe, Sein Steen, Saw Maung, Nay Lin and Zaw Htay were arrested on 20 October for their involvement in filing the complaint.
Saw Maung, Nay Lin and Zaw Htay were released on 10 December, while Hla Soe and Zaw Htay are being held at Magwe police station, according to their lawyer Phoe Phyu.
Zaw Htay has also faced legal action from the government for another report he made on the death of Ngapyin villager Win Lwin during a forced labour session.
Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet