The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), one of Burma’s most powerful ethnic armed organisations (EAO) fighting against the military regime, has announced that it’ll redistribute many acres of land in the Hukawng Valley along the Tanai-Ledo road that it liberated from Yuzana Co Ltd, which had confiscated it for years.
After attacking several Yuzana businesses in Kachin State and taking the land from the company, which is closely linked to the Southeast Asian’s nation’s military, the KIO formed a land distribution committee in the affected villages in the Hukawng Valley in April last year. According to a member of the committee in Nawng Mee, each family in the area will receive five acres of land.
“I think the KIO will distribute land to local people next year. The KIO told us that it’ll distribute the land to the locals after forming a land distribution committee in each village in the area,” the person told KNG, asking that his name not be published. The families who lost their land to Yuzana because of the war will be given priority.
Another anonymous source from Nawng Mee wants the KIO to distribute the land to everyone and not just those whose land was taken by Yuzana. “The distribution must be equal and rich people shouldn’t get more land than other people. Everyone should get the same amount. We want the KIO to distribute the land to the locals who really need it for farming.” The EAO should carefully check the background of the recipients to ensure that they’re from the region and follow a strict procedure, he said.
Since 2006, Yuzana has seized over 200k acres of land in the Hukawng Valley before the KIO evicted the company from the area. The EAO warned to take action against anyone appropriating the land after Yuzana was forced to stop operations in June 2021, a few months after the military coup. Initially, some companies and others began to occupy the vacant land. Prospectors began to mine gold around Jahtu Zup until October 2021, when the KIO banned mining of the precious metal in the area and seized the other lands that had been occupied by Yuzana after the exodus.
There are rumours that the KIO will demand $54 from the families for each of the 5 acres offered.
The KIO has already distributed land to some conflict-affected people under a resettlement programme, and others have received land in Hukawng and Shin Bway Yang districts, which are part of the KIO’s control area, as part of its poppy substitution efforts.
At the end of May, residents of 25 villages held a joint prayer ceremony in Wara Zup village after receiving land from the KIO.
Yuzana had seized land in 25 villages in Hukawng, including Nawng Mee, Wara Zup, Jahtu Zup, Awng Ra, Bangkok, Nam Maphit, Kawng Ra and Teing Kok.