Two years since Yuzana left Hukawng valley but local people have not gotten land back
Despite the Yuzana Company leaving the Hukawng valley more than two years ago, local people have not yet received their land back.
The Yuzana Company seized more than 400,000 acres in the Hukawng valley region in 2006 through a concession from the previous military dictatorship. In April 2021, the company left the land. After the Yuzana Company left, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) destroyed the Yuzana Company compound with backhoes. The Yuzana compound was located in Bangkok village in Warazup village-tract in Hpakant Township. After destroying the compound, KIA officials said that they would redistribute the Yuzana concession as land plots to local people.
Despite two years passing, KIO officials have yet to distribute any land plots to local people in the area. Instead of land distribution, KIO officials have warned local people to not work on the land plots without permission.
“They have told local people to not work on the land. Right now, they are no longer talking about land distribution. They warn people to not work on the land plots. Local people feel confused. A land distribution committee has been formed in our village, and they promised to distribute land plots to local people. But when we ask the committee about land distribution, they don’t have answers for us. Local people are waiting to receive their land plots,” a Nawng Mee village resident told KNG.
Local people report that village land distribution committees were formed in each village in the area to redistribute the Yuzana concession land that the KIO had seized. Previously, KIO officials had promised to give five acres of land to each family who don’t already own land.
Some people have started working on the former Yuzana concession land. Villages, where people have started to working on the former Yuzana concession, include Nawng Mee, Warazup, Jahtuzup, Awng Ra, Sanpya, Bangkok, Tingkok, and Pannet villages. KIO officials have warned local people to not work on this abandoned land.
“Some farmers were forced to leave their farms. I do not know whether the KIO has already offered this abandoned land to someone. We are still confused about why the land redistribution has not happened yet,” the Nawng Mee resident told KNG.
To avoid disagree among farmers during the KIO land redistribution process, local farmers had already sent their ownership data to the regional KIO office, the KIA Battalion-14 and the Laiza headquarters.
Local people have said that they are not satisfied with the progress of land redistribution in the Hukawng valley region. Regional KIO officials have threatened local people to not talk to media groups about their dissatisfaction with the land redistribution issue.
“They haven’t started any land redistribution process in this area. Recently a media group reported about this land redistribution issue. KIO officials were angry with this news report, and enquired about which people spoke to the media group. They threatened to arrest people who people talk to media groups about this land redistribution issue. I do not know what they are going to do,” another local man, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told KNG.
The KIO has also warned the Myungchying Rawt Jat (MRJ) to not get involved in this land redistribution issue. The MRJ was instrumental in protests against the Yuzana Company land concession during the previous government.
In the past, local people were active in protesting against the Yuzana Company, but at the moment local people have to be silent about land issues in the Hukawng valley region. Some local people said they think some KIO officers and businessmen have taken ownership of many acres of land plot in Hukawng village region. KNG could not verify this claim.
“I do not know about this land issue in detail. I think officials from some brigades and battalions in the region are taking care of this issue. Our headquarters have not given special orders to brigade and battalion commanders about this land issue,” Col Naw Bu, head of the KIO/KIA information department, told KNG.
After the Yuzana Company left the Hukawng valley, 50 IDP families were allowed to settle on 500 acres of land between Nawng Mee and Warazup villages. This was the first instance of land distribution in the area. Many local people are expecting to get back their land plots, but at present they haven’t received anything.
The Yuzana Company first seized farm land in Hukawng valley region in 2006 after a concession was given by disgraced former dictator Than Shwe. Local farmers want to get back their old farm land which had been confiscated by the Yuzana Company. Local people are requesting that the KIO redistribute their old farm land as soon as possible.