Brang Shawng / May 31, 2020
A farmer from Warazup village of the Hukawng Valley in Burma’s northern Kachin State has insisted to continue farming on his own land after the Yuzana Company’s recent encroachment, flaring up another dispute of land-grab incident in the world’s largest Tiger Reserve.
A group of Warazup villagers and the owner of disputed farmland La Ja staged a standoff with the Yuzana Company’s employee on last Friday to stop plowing by the company’s tractor. The disputed farm of 20 acres was owned by the local farmer La Ja and located Lahkraw Hka area near Warazup village.
A Yuzana Company manager Ye Win told the villagers that the company has the permission to grow plantations in the farmland of Lahkraw Hka area for thirty years since 2010, according to La Ja. The manager Ye Win told him that he would report to the higher authority regarding the dispute and try to settle the permission to use the land in a few days.
The farmland owners will have to continue working on their own farmland, even though the Yuzana Company will give permission or not, a local representative of Mungchying Rawt Jat (MRJ)’s Hukawng Valley area Tang Gun told The Kachin Post. MRJ is a local based activist group, helping local communities to fight against the land confiscation orchestrated by big and foreign corporations.
“We’re going to do what we supposed to do,” said Tang Gun. Yuzana mostly not reveal the proper documents to confiscate the farmland in Hukawng Valley. Yuzana Company didn’t bring requested land documents during legal proceeding against the company by the local farmer regarding the pasture land dispute, according to MRJ Tang Gun.
MRJ representative Tang Gun said that Burmese authorities restricted local farmers to do farming in the Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve area and let Yuzana Company to grow plantation instead. Early of May, Burmese authorities rejected the local farmers’ appeal to demarcate the pasture land for their farm animals and told farmers to find the land outside of Tiger Reserve area, according to Tang Gun.
Approximately 8,452 square miles of the world’s largest Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve was demarcated by the Burmese government in 2010 with the pushed from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Since 2006, over 400,000 acres of farmland was confiscated by the notorious Yuzana Company for its cassava and sugar cane plantation in Hukawng Valley. Many of those acres are overlapping with the territory of Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve.
Mungchying Rawt Jat (MRJ) was founded in October 2012 by Kachin lawyers and faith leaders at the Kachin Bpatist Convention (KBC) headquarter. The organization is working along with Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) and Kachin Back Pack.
Warazup village of Hpakant Township is located 70 miles west of the Kachin State capital Myitkyina.