Some 200 local farmers in Pegu Division marched through the streets of Nattalin in protest on Monday, denouncing what they say is a misappropriation of their land by the local Settlement and Land Records Department.
Around 450 acres of land belonging to 123 farmers in Dhammange, Phalanbin, Jobintha and Shasaybo villages in Nattalin Township were allegedly confiscated in 1991 by the Burmese army and various local government departments.
The military and certain government departments have recently conceded by returning plots of land to the original owners in the area, but the local Settlement and Land Records Department – tasked with implementing the returns – stands accused of selling off plots to third persons or leasing lands, instead of handing them over to the rightful owners.
The protesters said the original landowners had previously reached out and filed complaints to the parliamentary Land Investigation Commission, but these were ignored.
The protest in Nattalin on Monday was staged with official permission from the local police, however the protestors were confronted several times by police units who threatened legal action against them for allegedly exceeding the time or terms of the protest permit.
Last year, activist Myint Myint Aye, who was detained for assisting farmers fighting against land grabs in central Burma’s Pegu division, went on a hunger strike while in prison to protest what she called her arbitrary detention.
She was released on appeal in December.