On Anniversary of Military Land Grab, Karenni State Locals Demand the Return of Their Village

‘I want to work and live peacefully on my own land,’ said one Demoso villager whose land was seized by the Burma Army on this week in 1991.


December 20, 2018

Locals from Demoso Township in Karenni State have called on the government to return their ancestral lands seized by the Burma Army more than 25 years ago.

The territory is located in Ngwe Taung village, and was taken for “security reasons” by the Tatmadaw’s Infantry Battalion (IB) 102 in 1991.

“These days, many people have gotten their confiscated land back. Therefore, we also want our land back. We want to live in our village again. I want to work and live peacefully on my own land,” Ngwe Taung villager U Kyaw Win told NMG.

Locals say that IB 102 took their land 27 years ago on December 18.

“Because of landmine explosions, they ordered us to relocate 38 residences within two days,” a resident of the community said. “It caused chaos for us. We had only two days for complete relocation…they confiscated our land after we relocated.”

According to U Kyaw Win, some villagers still don’t have their own land plot to live and work on, and did not receive compensation or an alternative place to live.

“We used to own this land. There are many people who still don’t have their own residences. Many families lost the houses and land they owned, so they have faced many hardships since that time,” he explained.

Villagers from Ngwe Taung said that since 2012, they have repeatedly lobbied government officials and parliamentarians about the return of their land. The complaints led to a government survey, but no solutions or proposals have reportedly been put forward.

The Tatmadaw has allegedly built a brick wall on the confiscated land—locals reported this to respective government departments, but construction continues, they told NMG. U Kyaw Win said that earlier this month they sent a petition to military commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing stating that this action violates existing laws.

IB 102 has reportedly cited the 1894 Land Acquisition Act as allowing for the seizure of the land in Demoso Township. Locals have challenged this claim, pointing out that the land was not vacant and therefore the confiscation violated even colonial-era laws.