The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) threatened action against anyone exploiting land formally used as a cassava factory by Yuzana Co Ltd in Hukawng Valley, Kachin State.
The KIO’s armed wing, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) torched several of Yuzana’s buildings in Bangkok village, Tanai Township, in April and May. According to an eyewitness, on April 1, KIA’s Battalion 14 destroyed a building, backhoe, bulldozer, five vehicles, three road graders and two road rollers.
When businessmen attempted to retake the land after the attacks, locals complained to the ethnic armed organisation (EAO). A man who requested his name not be published told KNG “some wealthy, influential businessmen tried to seize the land before locals could utilize it…residents requested KIO’s help to solve the problem.”
According to KIO’s statement, it will retain control of the land, promising retribution against individuals dividing it up into plots without its permission. The EAO instructed residents to force employees working for the company to leave the area, while encouraging them to protect the land from exploitation by managing it themselves.
Yuzana Co Ltd was established in 1994 by Htay Myint, who has close ties with previous regime leader Than Shwe and Khin Nyunt, Chief of Intelligence under Than Shwe. Since 2006, the company seized over 400,000 acres of land from farmers for its cassava and sugarcane agribusiness in Kachin State. The company is also involved in the construction, hospitality, real estate and fishery industries. The Burma Army and a People’s Militia Force protected Yuzana’s assets along Lido Road.