Burma Military Returns Land in Irrawaddy Division

By Salai Thant Zin 28 February 2014

The Burma Army’s Southwestern Command (SWC), based in Irrawaddy Division, is beginning to return land plots that were confiscated during the former military regime.

“We plan to finish the land transfer process during the first week of March,” Capt. Paw Nyein of the SWC head office told The Irrawaddy. “We intend to give back the grabbed land to farmers so they can cultivate in time for the coming rainy season.”

He said 1,600 acres (650 hectares) of land would be handed back to the previous owners through township land management committees. At least 5,000 acres were seized by the military in Irrawaddy Division under the former regime, according to a report by lawmakers.

“We were ordered to check which land we could return and which land we couldn’t. We had to examine and submit a list with the amount of land that could be returned,” he said. “We now have permission to give this land back to the owners.”

According to a report filed in March 2013 by Parliament’s Farmland Investigation Commission, 5,000 acres in Irrawaddy Division had been seized by the army. Of that, the Ministry of Defense gave about 825 acres to the Irrawaddy Division Assembly, which has since returned this land to the previous owners.

The army confiscated more than 247,000 acres of land across the country as of March 2013, according to the parliamentary report.

In Irrawaddy Division, land is being returned in several townships, including Bassein, Ngapudaw, Thabaung, Wakema, Pantanaw, Kyaunggon, Einme and Ngwesaung. Army units involved in this return process include No. 10 Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Battalion, No. 11 Communications Battalion, and No. 11 Infantry Battalion.