Another farmer jailed for ‘squatting’

Zabuthiri Township Court. (Photo-EMG)

A township municipal court in Nay Pyi Taw has sentenced a farmer named Nga Chun to one month in prison on trespassing charges under section 26 of the Municipal Act.

The 67-year-old had been sued for residing illegally in Lewe Township and was sentenced on his 66th court hearing.

"It's unacceptable to say I'm a squatter. The place I live cost me Ks 1 million (US$1,000). They told me to move without giving any compensation. I want the officials to know that I don't have any place to live," Nga Chun said before the verdict was announced.

Currently, more than 20 residents have been jailed under section 26 in the township and four are still on trial.

Other so-called squatters were reimbursed and relocated to new plots but the remaining residents have not received compensation.

"The squatters before me received Ks 200,000 as an allowance for moving and also got new plots. But I got nothing," said Nga Chun. He added that he learned the previous squatters had to give Ks 300,000 to municipal officials to be relocated.

The president has pledged that he will recognise the group of more than 50 houses as a village during his administration and there was an official notification. Lower House MP Sandar Min from Zabuthiri constituency said the Nay Pyi Taw Council should obey the president's words.  

She added that she did not understand why the council was jailing farmers instead of giving them land.

"That place is listed in Lewe Township by the Immigration Department and therefore it is not a squat,” said Nga Chun's lawyer Khin Maung Nyo. “The residents are poor and can't afford to make an appeal. It's wrong to jail them."

Another man, Aung Win, 76, was sentenced to a month in jail in a similar case on January 1.