Burma

Pyin Oo Lwin Farmers Returned to Jail

By Zarni Mann 11 August 2017

MANDALAY – A Pyin Oo Lwin Township Court judge revoked bail on Thursday for Ko Toe Gyi and eight other farmers and activists from Pyinsar village in Pyin Oo Lwin Township who have been on trial since August 2016 on charges of trespassing and bodily harm.

“The district court terminated their bail as the plaintiff submitted an appeal to reject the bail,” said U Lin Aung Thu, the judge of Pyin Oo Lwin Township Court.

“I have to act according with the law and have to sent them back to prison.”

Activist Ko Myo Win and one of the farmers were not present at court. The judge gave the pair 15 days to present themselves to the court before charging the person who posted bail 5,000,000 kyats.

The remaining seven were sent to Mandalay’s Obo Prison.

Meanwhile, the court released on bail another 13 farmers facing similar charges for ploughing the same piece of land in Pyinsar.

“We do not want any compensation or money. We just want our land back,” said one of the farmers Ma Myint Myint Win.
In 1998, about 500 acres of lands in Pyinsar village were confiscated by the ministry of agriculture for a coffee plantation project.

The ministry promised to return the land if the project was not a success, according to the nine farmers.

The land, however, was sold on to private companies and military cronies when the government coffee project was called off.

Last year, farmers began farming the confiscated land, leading to altercations with the private owners who later filed a case against them.

“I have to question why the government keeps neglecting farmers whose lands were confiscated and are now facing lawsuits or kept behind bars,” said Ko Toe Gyi, after the court session, before being sent to the prison.

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