DVB: Tavoy farmers jailed for ‘disturbing’ officials


Tavoy farmers jailed for ‘disturbing’ officials (click to view)


By Nang Mya Nadi

Nineteen farmers in Tenasserim Division’s Tavoy [Dawei] on Wednesday received various sentences of up to nine months in prison and fines of around US$10 for clashing with government officials over a land confiscation case earlier this year.

The ten men and nine women were sentenced under several charges, including disturbing government officials on duty, weapons possession, and assaulting government officials last month when they were attempting to measure farmland confiscated by the military government in 1990.

Aung Sein, a lawyer for the farmers, said that the male defendants received prison sentences of different lengths, while the female defendants were ordered to pay a fine of roughly 10,000 kyat, about $10.

“One of the male defendants was sentenced to nine months in prison on charges of disturbing government officials on duty, cursing, weapons possession, and assault, while another one was sentenced to six months. The rest received sentences of three and a half months each,” Aun Seing said.

“The female defendants were fined 20,000 kyat each.”

The jailed villagers were immediately transported to Tavoy prison after the court hearing. Yi Yi Htwe, one of the female defendants, said about 50 locals accompanied them to the gate of Tavoy prison for moral support.

The villagers claim they held more than 300 acres of land in Tavoy’s Sanchi ward, but it was confiscated by the military regime in 1990. The area now houses the offices of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, as well as other government department buildings. After appealing to the Union Parliament’s Farmland Investigation Commission for help, the authorities offered the villagers a settlement, but they rejected it, saying the offer was unfair.