Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Mon splinter group demands 100,000 baht for disputed property sale

By Asah,IMNA

A new Mon splinter group has been demanding money in Tree Pagodas Township for, what they claim, is the illegitimate sale of property owned by their leader.

On June 22nd, a new Mon insurgent group calling itself ‘Rehmonnya’, led by Nai Khin Maung, demanded 100,000 Baht from Daw Kao Saorn, who owns a rubber plantation in Paline Japan village. Daw Kao Saorn lives in Sangkhlaburi.

Nai Khin Maung claims that the rubber plantation rightfully belongs to his superior Nai Shoung. According to Nai Khin Maung, approximately two years ago the land that is now the rubber plantation was given to Nai Shoung by Nai Aung Naing. Nai Aung Naing is a retired major-general from the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the largest Mon group.

According to a source close to Daw Kao Saorn, Nai Khin Maung said that her land is Rehmonnya’s land and that he will get the land back. Nai Khink Maung told her Nai Shoung already owned the land.

“The Rehmonnya group wants to get Daw Kao Soarn’s land. If they get this land they will use it for building a base of operations,” recounted the source close to Daw Kao Soarn. “If someone works this land they will have to pay 100,000 baht, and the headman [Nai Pain] who witnessed the sale of the property to Daw Kao Saorn will have to pay 50,000 baht to the Nai Khin Maung group.”

“This is my leaders land. Two years ago, Nai Paing, the headman of Paline Janpan village, sold this land without permission,” Nai Khin Maung told IMNA. “If we got half of the money from this sale we would be ok. Now, since they haven’t given any of the money made from the sale of the land to my leader, this is why he makes these demands.”

Because of threats from the Rehmonnya group, Daw Kao Soarn has been afraid to return to her plantation, though she does not yet know what they will do if she refuses to pay. According to IMNA sources, the plantation is approximately 5 acres in size and is still relatively young. The plants are all between 1 and 2 years old and have yet to produce an actual rubber crop.

Rehmonnya’s demand for money from Daw Kao Soarn comes as the third in a series of demands for money this month, from villagers in Three Pagoda Township. After Rehmonnya’s increased activity, New Mon State Party (NMSP) forces have increased security in Palin Janpan village, Ku-Bao village, and Brigade No.3 village.

Nai Ba Tin, who is part of the Three Pagoda’s Pass administrative committee in NMSP territory, said the Rehmonnya group has been asking for money from the villager and headman because they have personal debts to settle.

Previously this month, the Rehmonya group made two sets of demands for money in Brigade No. 3 villagers. The first came after 10 armed men from the group entered the village and kidnapped two retired village headmen. According to villagers and NMSP sources, they were only returned after their families paid a ransom of 50,000 baht. During the 1st week of June, the group demanded 100,000 baht tax from the villagers by June 9th. Despite the presence of the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) less then a mile away, many villagers felt compelled to pay the tax. The headman claimed that the village didn’t pay, though Nai Khin Maung claims they delivered 25,000 baht.

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