MANDALAY – More than 2,600 acres of land confiscated by the defense ministry in 2000 was returned to some 300 farmers in Myaing Township, Magwe Region on Tuesday.
“A committee led by vice president U Henry Van Thio came to return the land to its original owners, the farmers,” said local Lower House parliamentarian U Aung Khin Win.
The land was confiscated under the justification that the Ministry of Defense would build a facility in the area.
When Maj Sai Thein Win defected in 2010 and leaked news of construction of a secret weapon factory on the confiscated land, the project was cancelled.
“The land was handed over to the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2010 and then the Ministry of Education in 2015,” explained U Aung Khin Win.
“The Ministry of Education is planning to use about 480 acres, so the rest was returned to the original owners,” he said.
About 350,000 acres of land was confiscated, mainly by the Ministry of Defense, in Magwe Region with much of the land later being transferred to other ministries.
Land rights activists have accused ministries of being weak in cooperating with the local committee reviewing and returning confiscated land.
“The related departments who work with the committee take to checking documents and returning lands to the farmers,” said Ko Aung Kyaw Kyaw, a local land rights activist working with the committee.
Some 50,000 acres of land in Magwe Region has been returned to its original owners, according to the committee.