Kyauktaw: The Burmese military authority has confiscated thousands of acres of private land in Kyauktaw Township in Arakan State in order to set up an artillery battalion in the area, said a farmer from the area.
“The confiscation of land by the Burmese army is still continuing in our state and recently a large amount of locally-owned land was confiscated by the army authority for Artillery Battalion 377 to be set up in the area,” he said.
The Burmese army has been constructing the site for Artillery Battalion 377 near Kan Zouk Village in southern Kyauktaw Township, and has confiscated many lands, including farmland and orchards.
“I heard the land is not only for the battalion but also for other purposes, including construction of a new village to be settled by Burman people brought from Burma proper,” he added.
According to a local source, the army authority confiscated over 10,000 acres from several villages located between Kan Zouk Village and Zani Daung Village in southern Kyauktaw Township for the artillery battalion base.
“Farmers from many villages in our area lost their farms to confiscation by the army. As far as I know, the farmers are from Kan Zouk, Pa Long Chaung, Kwa Son, Pring Chaung, Wai Gyi Hton, Pting Daw, Zani Daung, Let Puchay, and Taungbuzar Villages,” the farmer said.
Before confiscating the land, the army authorities forced farmers to sign an agreement stating they were willingly handing over their land to the army.
“The army authority pressured us to sign the agreement. If we refused, our village as well as our houses would be relocated to a remote area. So every farmer signed the agreement to transfer their land to the army because they are afraid of their homes and villages being removed from the area,” he added.
In Arakan State, there were only three battalions in 1988, but battalions now number 60. The military authority has confiscated many lands from Arakanese farmers for army battalions. An estimated two-thirds of land traditionally owned by Arakanese people has been confiscated by the Burmese army since 1988.