Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Kachin court to give verdict in Yuzana land-grab case

New Delhi (Mizzima) – A class action brought by 63 farmers against a company with close links to Burma’s military junta over land grabs in Kachin State will wind up on Saturday as the state court is to release its verdict, the farmers’ lawyer says.

hukawng-valley-tigerThe subsistence farmers sued Yuzana Company for confiscating family-owned land in Phakant Township, Moenhyin District and had initially named the firm’s owner, junta-linked tycoon Htay Myint as a defendant. After testimony was heard from the remaining witnesses, the court in the state capital of Myitkyina on Monday gave the date for its decision.

“High Court justices Tuja and Myo Tint decided to give the final verdict on December 31,” the farmers’ lawyer Myint Thwin told Mizzima.

Yesterday, after hearing the testimony of Pu Kyi from Yuzana, the court decided to deliver its verdict.

“Pu Kyi could not give any evidence and the other witnesses from Yuzana Company also had nothing to offer. I think the farmers are likely to win in this case,” land-rights activist Bawk Jar, who assisted the farmers in bringing the suit, told Mizzima.

A total of 148 farmers had originally prepared to sue the military and the company, after it had confiscated a total of 1,038 acres (420 hectares) held by the farmers in Warazuap, Aungra, Sharuzuap, Bangkok and Namsan villages. The firm planned to grow cassava and sugar cane as cash crops.

Later, the company agreed to offer just 80,000 kyat [about US$80] per acre in compensation, so many of the farmers’ withdrew from the action, leaving 17 as plaintiffs. Then, 46 farmers also joined proceedings to sue the company because they had been denied livelihood from cultivating crops for the three years since the land grabs had occurred.

“The farmers demanded 800,000 kyat [about US$800] from the company as compensation because they had been jobless for about three years. It’s very important that they retrieve their farmlands, otherwise, they will not be able to survive … They are unable to do anything except farm for a living,” Bawk Jar said.

In the lawsuit brought by the 17 farmers, Htay Myint has been removed from the list of the defendants. On his behalf, Pu Kyi, reportedly Htay Myint’s brother, became the primary defendant on October 12.


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