Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Voice of desperation from Mandalay

By Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - U Maung, nudging 70 years or more, was taken aback when he received a notification in mid-January to evacuate his two-storey apartment building.

"I don't know where to go and what to do," says U Maung, as he talks about the notification that ordered him to leave his dear home, which he had bought a decade ago.

"The government wants it back," he said, "It's their property. I only have to plead as there is nothing else I can do."

U Maung resides in one of the two-storied small apartments on the 30th Street in Mandalay's former Police Academy compound. His worries are that an order from the Police Academy, now known as Central Police Training School, also known as Yabakah, has stated that his apartment will be retaken by the concerned police department.

"They have ordered us to evacuate our houses latest by March 31," U Maung explained in a quavering tone over telephone.

His worries are shared by several others, who like him had bought the police academy owned apartments. There are at least, 250 to 300 apartments in the entire police academy owned compound.

In the mid 1990s the Police Academy, which is the only police training school in Upper Burma, engaged private construction companies to build several two-storey apartments in and around its main training field and in parts of its officer's quarters.

The stretch of area covers the blocks of streets from 31st, 30th, 29th, 28th that runs across North to South and 66th, 67th, and 68th that runs across East to West in Chan Aye Thar Zan Township and parts of Aung Mya Thar Zan Township's police officer quarters.

U Maung said he bought the apartment from a private construction company with a contract to pay a monthly fee of 1000 Kyat (later increased to 3000 Kyat) to the police Academy as contribution to their fund.

"I was never told that we could be evacuated like this without any compensation," U Maung says.

But he said he had been afraid that his wildest nightmares would come true someday, when after about a year of moving into his newly bought apartment in 1996, he received a letter from the Police Academy and was made to sign.

"The letter was undersigned by the head of the academy and it stated - We understand that the land is owned by the Academy while the building belongs to us," U Maung said.

"We were then made to sign the letter."

But he said his fears subsided when police officers in the neighborhood told him that it was a mere formality and that nobody would force him out of his house.

"I was beginning to feel that their words were true but suddenly in mid-January I received this notification," U Maung told Mizzima in shaky tone.

To the dismay of U Maung, an officer at the Central Police Training School in Zeepinkone near Pyin Oo Lwin, about 45 miles Northeast of Mandalay, told Mizzima on Tuesday that the order was issued not only to those apartment owners in Mandalay but in all the states and divisions across the country.

"The order is from the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is for in all parts of the country," the officer said, adding that the order is to evacuate all residential houses constructed in and around police owned compounds.

"I don't know the reasons for the order but residents have to evacuate before the end of March or we will be compelled to take necessary action according to the law," the officer said.

The officer said, though the Central Police Training School had been shifted to Zeepinkone near Pyin Oo Lwin, the former Police Academy Compound in Mandalay still remains under their administration, but he failed to provide any possible reasons for re-claiming the area.

The Central Police Training School, before being shifted to Zeepinkone in the mid-1990s, filled up its previous training grounds with apartment buildings leaving only a small open field unoccupied.

"But it does account for good payment for them," U Maung said, "as they have increased the monthly contribution to 3000 kyat. They are collecting hundreds of thousands every month."

Desperate residents including U Maung have gathered in small meetings and have come up with a plan to appeal to the Ministry of Home affairs in Naypyitaw and to Burma's military supremo Snr. Gen Than Shwe personally.

"I don't know what will be the outcome. As of now we can only hope and pray that they [the junta] would be merciful and do not take away our houses," U Maung says.

"Because this is all I have and I have no where else to go," he adds.

Some part of the information contributed by The The

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