The Kachin National Organization (KNO) has demanded that the Yuzana Co. Ltd. unconditionally return land that it confiscated from locals and to leave the Hukawng Valley in Kachin State.
The warning came in an open letter to Yuzana founder and owner Htay Myint on July 8.
“With the assistance of the Burma Army, the Yuzana Company, owned by U Htay Myint, has confiscated lands from local people in the Hukawng Valley. Therefore, we told them to leave Kachin State,” the London-based spokesperson of the KNO Hkanhpa Sadan told KNG.
Yuzana—which works in a range of industries, from seafood to agriculture to hospitality to construction—entered Hukawng under the protection of the Burma Army in 2006. Since then, the company has seized more than 400,000 acres of land in Hukawng Valley, according to the Myitkyina-based Kachin Development Networking Group. This land has largely been used for monocrop plantations.
Around half of the plantations are located in the Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve, a controversial government-run “conservation initiative” where forests were destroyed to make way for Yuzana’s crops.
KNG reported in 2011 that these plantations also served as sites where Burma Army weapons were kept. The military’s renewed offensives against the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/A) started that year.
“If the Yuzana Company fails to implement this, the Yuzana Company will be charged under the law of the Kachin People’s Government and international law,” the KNO wrote, a reference to the KIO’s administration, to which it also directed Yuzana to pay tax.
The KNO also sent a copy of its open letter to Burma’s President’s Office, the Kachin State government, various government departments, the KIO, as well as other ethnic armed organizations and civil society organizations.
The KNO and the KIO signed a memorandum of understanding regarding military and political cooperation in 2011.