KIO Promises To Resolve Hukawng Valley Land Dispute

The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) announced plans to redistribute the land in Hukawng Valley that its military wing, Kachin Independence Army (KIA), seized from Yuzana Co Ltd along Lido Road in Kachin State last spring after some officers sold it to businessmen connected to the ethnic armed group.

According to one local, who asked that his name not be mentioned, KIO promised to settle the land dispute that had arisen after there was nothing left for the regular Kachin residents of the area when KIA officers from Battalion 14 sold it to wealthy individuals for gold mining.

When Yuzana left the area, “some did not get plots and this created inequality among the local people” he told KNG. Some locals asked the KIO to resolve the problem, he said, and ”after a review, KIA will give plots to those who really need it”.

According to an officer from KIA Brigade 2, the villages of Dum Bon, Lawah, Dum Ban, Nawng Mee, Warazup, Shaduzup, Awng Ra, Sanpya, Tingkok and Pannet, all affected by the land seizures, will be informed about KIO’s plan.

A male resident from Warazup, who wishes to remain anonymous, supported the armed organisation’s recent announcement to take back the land.

”We want the land to be distributed fairly to the landless locals who really need it, not like what happened in the past when businessmen bought many acres in the area to mine gold,” he told KNG. ”As residents, we did not get anything and that’s why we support KIA’s plan to redistribute the land. However, I do not know how effective it will be.”

In April and May, Battalion 14 attacked Yuzana’s warehouses and eventually drove the company out of the valley. The KIO issued a statement in June that no one would be allowed to use the properties.

Yuzana was established in 1994 by Htay Myint, who has close ties to former regime leader Than Shwe and Khin Nyunt, Chief of Intelligence under Than Shwe. Since 2006, it has seized over 400,000 acres of land from farmers for its cassava and sugarcane agribusiness in Hpakant and Tanai townships. The company is also involved in construction, hospitality, real estate and fishing.

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