Land Confiscations Begin for Trade

Burmese authorities have confiscated many acres of land from local farmers in Taungbro Yar on the western border in order to construct border trade zones as well as a dam, said a community leader in the area.

He said, “Every body can see many small red flags hoisted on sticks in the area of Taungbro Yar right now because the authorities are surveying the land to construct the trade zones.”

According to a local official source, there are 150 acres of land, including farm and grazing land, that have been confiscated so far, but the government has yet to pay any compensation to the landowners.

“The Burmese authority does not usually compensate the owners of compensated lands because in Burma all lands technically belong to the state,” the community leader said.

Most of the landowners in the area are Muslim and have had no recourse to complain to the high authority about the land confiscations.

A team of high officials led by General Khin Zaw of the Defense Ministry and Brigadier-General Tin Naing Thein, Minister of Commerce, visited the area on Saturday to inspect the area for the construction of trade zones and the friendship road with Bangladesh.

A businessman in Maungdaw said, “Minister Tin Naing Thein offered businesses in Maungdaw the opportunity to buy one plot of land with a building on it inside the trade zone for 17.5 million kyat; the authority has plans to sell the buildings to the companies after the construction. ”

At the meeting, Tin Naing Thein also told the business owners that the government has plans to construct many godowns in the trade zone and that these will also be sold to businesses to promote border trade with Bangladesh.

Some companies in Maungdaw agreed to buy the proposed buildings in the trade zone in hopes of doing business with Bangladesh.

The authority will also construct a dam in Taungbro Yar and surveying for the project is currently underway.

A government clerk from Maungdaw said that a survey team led by San Pyi, Director of the Arakan State Survey Department, is currently surveying the lands where the dam will be constructed.

The new border trade zones are intended to promote business between Bangladesh and Burma and benefit the local residents by improving the economy, but local residents are already suffering the impacts of this plan by having their lands and livelihoods taken without compensation.

Kaladan News , October 22, 2008

Over 200 villagers forced to work in rubber plantation
Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Burmese military junta authorities are forcing 200 villagers to work in a rubber plantation near Aung Mamgala modern village from October 20, said a villager who worked as a forced labour.


The rubber plantation is around 3.40 acres and is controlled by Tactical Operations Command (TOC) in Buthidaung. The land was confiscated from the Rohingya community in the area.


The villagers had cultivated rubber seedlings which the TOC sold to villagers at 250 Kyats per seedling three years ago.


The authorities ordered the village headmen to send the workforce (which the junta calls to forced labour) to work in the rubber plantation. They are to fix fences, spread fertilizer and clean the grass around the rubber plants, said a village headman on condition of anonymity.


The villagers had to bring their food to work. No daily wage is paid.


“The rubber plantation is situated near the Aung Mamgala Natala (Modern) Village, but the authorities didn’t order Natala villagers to work. The order was meant only for Rohingya villagers,” said a village former headman.


Rohingya villagers who are working in the rubber plantation face starvation as most of them are daily workers.


“The authorities seized our land and than ordered us to buy the seedlings. Now, they have ordered us to work in the plantation area as forced labour which they call people’s workforce for the country,” said a school teacher from Maungdaw.


Recently, senior officers of the junta visited the border area and told the township officers to develop the area with help of the public. On the other hand they ordered them to confiscate lands from the Rohingya community.


“Nearly 150 acres of land from the Rohingya community will be confiscated soon for development of Taungbro as a modern town,” said a politician from Maungdaw.  

Kaladan News , October 24, 2008

Rohingya Muslims work in Kyaukpru–Maayee New Road


Kyaukpru, Arakan State: About 100 Rohingya Muslims are being forced to work on the newly constructed Kyaukpru– Maayee Road this week.


The Rohingya Muslim community lives in Kyakpru and Rambree Township in Arakan State.


The authorities from Kyaukpru and Rambree ordered local authorities to assemble Rohingya Muslims in their area for construction work on the Kyaukpru – Maayee Road.


“My father had gone to the newly constructed road for a week as a forced labour (which the junta calls people’s workforce) on the orders of the township authority. Flouting the order means we have to leave the town or the authorities will harass us,” said a student in Kyaukpru.


“We are facing starvation after my father went to the road construction site where the authorities provide the lowest quality of rice as wages and we have no other source of income for survival, he added.


The new road has nine bridges and it will join the high way to Kyukpru-Ann Road.


The Rohingyas who go to the construction site will work and stay at the site for a week and be replaced by another group of 100 Rohingyas, said a source.


There is no other community except the Rohingya working on this site, the source added.


“We don’t know how long it will take to finish the road and the Rohingya community will work to complete the project while their families starve,” the sources added.

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