“Public Crisis is No Concern”: Western Commander
By Takaloo, Ponnakyunt: Commander of the Western Command in Burma’s Arakan State, Major General Thaung Aye, told local farmers recently that civilians’ suffering from famine or crisis is no concern as his priority is to save families of the army from that crisis, according to the farmers.
Thaung Aye’s statement came as a reply after the farmers from Ponnakyunt Township complained about the confiscation of land and forced labor by LIB-550 based in that area.
LIB-550 has confiscated 16 acres of common pastures owned by farmers in the villages of Tanswe, Mingan, and Kyawsan in Ponnakyunt Township on 2 July, and forced them to cultivated the land without and compensation, said the farmers.
“Your starvation or crisis is not a matter for me. You must obey and do whatever the army has ordered you to and my important commitment is to save the army from those crises. If you can not cultivated the land as the army ordered, each of your villages must give 50,000 kyat to the army,” one farmer stated that Commander Thaung Aye told them.
Commander Thaung Aye is the top authority in Arakan State from the SPDC military junta, which often spreads propaganda about its commitment to development for the public in all areas of Burma. Captain Nine Win of LIB-550 has ordered villagers in Tanswe to cultivate six acres of paddy, and villagers in Mingan and Kyawsan to cultivate five acres of the confiscated lands each for the army. The army has not provided any reimbursement or compensation for the work, according to the farmers.
The farmers said they had gone to complain of the matter to the commander based at Western Command in Ann because they were poor farmers who were busy with cultivating their own paddy farms, and it was very difficult for them to pay for the cost of cultivating the land for the army.
“As we are depending on the animals for our cultivation, pastures are very important for us. It becomes more difficult for us to follow the army orders to cultivated confiscated lands as we are simple farmers struggling for our livelihoods in the paddy growing season and unable to pay the costs of cultivation for the army fund. That’s why we have gone to plead to the highest authority of the army,” said another farmer.
They said that the commander also reminded them that their current farmlands, along with all the land inArakan State, are also owned by the Burmese army.