Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Farmers live under duress of Burmese Army

(KNG) -Farmers in Burma's northern Kachin State are being meted out ill treatment in the name of growing summer paddy by local Burmese Army battalions, said local farmers.

Farmers, who are mainly into cultivation of monsoon paddy in Kachin State, are being forced to grow summer paddy. Some of their buffalos and oxen are being slaughtered for beef or sold for money in the market, while some are being used in the paddy fields for ploughing by Burmese Army troops, complained local farmers.

In Burma, summer paddy is grown in March and harvested in late May before the onset of the monsoons in June.

Last March, the Burmese Army's Infantry Battalion (IB or Kha La Ya) No. 142 based in Dawhpumyang in Bhamo district deliberately drove seven heads of cattle into their summer paddy fields. Three cows were slaughtered while the rest received gun-shot wounds, said local farmers.

The current price of a cow is between 500,000 Kyat (US $490) and 600,000 Kyat (US $588) in Kachin State, said local farmers.

The cattle are owned by Kachin villagers in Dingga village in Dawhpumyang sub-township. They also grow summer paddy in the fields which are temporarily seized from Dingga farmers, according to farmers of the village.

Again on April 26, Burmese soldiers of IB No. 142 drove a herd of cattle belonging to Dingga farmers to the seized paddy fields and the cattle owners were threatened with imprisonment. The soldiers also demanded fines ranging between 30,000 Kyat (US $29) and 80,000 Kyat (US $78) per cow because the cattle ate their summer paddy, added local farmers.

Local farmers said the soldiers fence their summer paddy fields only on one side and the cattle enter the fields from the sides without fences.

At the moment, farmers in Dingga village are spending their days in nightmarish conditions because they may be fined or imprisoned when they check for their cattle in the summer paddy fields where soldiers deliberately drive cattle, the farmers said.

Similarly, another Burmese Army battalion, IB No. 58, based in Waingmaw town is also treating local farmers shabbily in the name of growing summer paddy, said farmers in Waingmaw.

Farmers who grow paddy in monsoon by using water from Washong Dam, the government’s irrigation project, have been ordered to grow summer paddy with their own money by the IB No. 58, said farmers.

Some farmers' paddy fields have been temporarily seized by soldiers. Again the local people's cattle entering the summer paddy fields are also slaughtered by soldiers, according to sources close to cattle owners.

Most farmers in Kachin State are reluctant to grow summer paddy because the farmers cannot start ploughing monsoon paddy in time. They have to skip cultivating monsoon paddy because of the summer paddy, said local farmers.

Usually, farmers in Kachin State rely on monsoon paddy which starts to grow from June and they do not need to put much effort to grow it, said local farmers.

Meanwhile, the Burmese military junta is forcibly selling a new variety of paddy seed to farmers in Kahcin State for 7,000 Kyat equivalent to US $ 6.8 per Tin (1 Tin = 40.9 Litre) and claiming that Kachin State will be the fourth largest rice producing state in the country. This is being proclaimed by pasting posters around Kachin State.

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