Villagers in D--- village, Hta Paw village tract, Bilin Township, Thaton District faced the loss of their plantation lands, paddy fields and yards due to a project to expand and repair the road in their village. Initially, the villagers were told by the Zwe Nyi Naung Company that they were only going to repair the road in the village, and they did not mention anything about the fact that they would also expand the road onto the villagers’ land. The villagers were very happy at first because this would improve their transportation; they did not know that their land would be confiscated.
The confiscation began on January 2nd 2014; the road expansion and repair project also started on that day. Some villagers’ lands were confiscated on January 4th 2014 as the project continued. The company who led the project is the Zwe Nyi Naung Company, a company that is based in Yangon, which is the former capital city of Myanmar. The villagers who lost their lands reported that the project started on January 2nd, but it has not been completed by the time we (KHRG) received the information, which was on July 10th 2014.
There are seven villagers who reported the loss of their lands to KHRG. The villagers reported that they were not consulted about the confiscation. They were told that the road would be repaired, so they thought that the project might not affect their livelihoods, so initially they were very pleased about it. However, once the project started, their lands were confiscated, and now they at least want compensation for their loss. Most of the villagers’ land was inherited from their ancestors, and thus some of them do not have the land title. Among the seven villagers who reported the abuse, some of them have the land title provided by Karen National Union, but they lost their land title papers, so they cannot prove to the company that they own the land.
There were 14 acres of land confiscated from five out of the seven villagers who reported the abuse. One of the other villagers lost 17 rubber trees, and the other lost the front yard of his house and four coconut trees. The villagers indicated that they are happy that the road was repaired, but they also have their livelihoods to consider; therefore at a minimum they want the Zwe Nyi Naung Company to compensate them for what they have lost.