Thursday, June 11, 2009

Junta allots large tracts of virgin land to senior KIO leaders

Written by KNG

The Burmese military junta has allotted thousands of acres of vacant-virgin land this year to senior leaders of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), one of largest ethnic ceasefire groups in the country, said local sources.

Land has been given under the project called "Exploring vacant-virgin soil for rain paddy in 2009-2010" in Waingmaw Township in Burma's northern Kachin State, to KIO senior leaders and Chinese businessmen-owned companies in Kachin State, said residents of Waingmaw.

A villager in a Kachin village called Gang Dau Yang situated on the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway said, the junta gave 7,200 acres of virgin land in the village to Dr. Lahkyen La Ja, General Secretary of KIO.

Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng, Vice-president No. 1 of KIO was given 14,920 acres of virgin land in the Nam San Yang village on the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway, said local villagers.

According to farmers in Waingmaw Township, the two KIO senior leaders were directly allotted huge stretches of virgin land by Naypyitaw, the capital of the junta ruled country.

A farmer in Nam San Yang told KNG, the military authorities are allotting virgin land under the policy where less than 100 acres of virgin soil is allotted by township administrative offices; around 200 acres is given by district administrative offices; over 300 acres of virgin soil is sanctioned by State administrative offices and above 1,000 acres is granted by Naypyitaw.

A villager in Nam San Yang who tried to apply for 100 acres of virgin land to the local authorities last year said, the local people are only authorized to apply for less than 50 acres. However it is impossible to have it granted in general.

Actually, the allotment of virgin land is the responsibility of the Forestry Department and Land-Survey Offices but the permission is directly granted by the junta's administrative offices, according to people in Waingmaw Township.

Local business sources said the companies have to buy huge vacant land because they have to prove they have Rubber and Castor-oil plantation which is a mandatory country-project of the junta in order to get permission from the military authorities to do business.

Because the junta's ‘exploring vacant virgin soil project’ is widely in vogue throughout Kachin State for several years, natives of Kachin State are losing their land which has been owned by them since their ancestors time, according to local land owners.

For the last two years, the junta has accorded priority to high ranking officers of KIO while granting vacant-virgin land in areas in Myitkyina and Bhamo districts, said local sources close to KIO.

Both KIO junior and senior officers are increasingly being criticized for taking personal benefit and business ventures by Kachin people.

At the moment, the KIO has generally accepted the "policy of armed-wing transition strategy" of the ruling junta and it is waiting for a dialogue with the regime on that issue.

The KIO and its armed-wing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) signed a ceasefire agreement on February 24, 1994.

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