About 1,000 farmers in Kantbalu Township, Shwebo District of Sagaing Region on August 13 staged a protest to ask for the return of confiscated lands and fair trials.
The protestors called for the immediate release of 56 jailed farmers, ending the prosecution of farmers, the return of confiscated lands, the stoppage of destroying the farmers’ crops by Tatmadaw (Army) and the rule of law.
“We applied for prior authorization for the gathering to the township-level officials on August 4. Only about 1,000 peoples participate in the protest due to the heavy rains last night (August 12). The roads in the majority of villages were damaged by the heavy rains,” said Zaw Win, a farmer from Ngapyawtaing village.
The protestors staged a protest against the dictatorship by raising their hands and three fingers and then a sit-in protest in the front of Kantbalu Township Court for ten minutes by shouting slogans.
The army captured farmlands for implementation of Kantbalu sugar cane plantation project.
“Land is the lifeblood of farmers. The land-grabbing amounts to undermining our lives. For that, we are staging a protest,” said Zaw Win, a farmer from Paybingyi village.
The majority of farmers said that they are facing many difficulties due to it.
“We had to get our children out of the schools. I am unable meet with my husband as he is moved to the Bago jail. I have no idea. I really feel sorry for their bullying. I myself want to cry but have no fear,” said San Tint from Paybingyi village.
The majority of farmers are mired in debt as they have to spend a lot of money on their daily existence and trials.
“My husband is now in jail. Three daughters and I are left in the house. My family is facing many difficulties after my husband has been in jail. I have no daily income and feel that I have no safety. Soldiers here are always scolding us,” said Htay Cho from Ngapyawtaing village.
“My husband is suffering from lung cancer. The army came to my hut and then forced us to move to other places. They said I would face the charges if I failed to do so. I cannot move to other places. It is impossible for me to find a new place. Now I have to pay Ks 5 million in debt,” said Hla yi, a 60-year old from Paygyi village.
The Sagaing Region minister for security and border affairs replied that he was at the meeting when the phone calls were made to him. No reply was received even though the call was made to him after the meeting.