Residents Speak Out Against Forced Relocation
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Friday, November 22, 2019

Residents Speak Out Against Forced Relocation

By KYAW ZWA MOE Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Homeowners in Rangoon’s Kamaryut Township were told by military officials last week to evacuate their homes by April 5 or face arrest. The residents were not given any reasons for the forced relocation nor have they been offered any compensation thus far, Kamaryut residents told The Irrawaddy. A total of 25 homes are being taken over by the government in the Waggi quarter of Kamaryut Township. The residents were approached last week by Col Yan Naing Oo, commander-in-chief of the Kamaryut Township Peace and Development Council, who told them that they had until April 5 to clear their homes of any belongings they wished to keep. Khaing Su Wai, who lives in Kamaryut, told the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) yesterday that when she informed Col Yan Naing Oo that her parents were too sick to be moved, the colonel told her that if they defied evacuation orders they would be transported to a prison hospital after sentencing. Local authorities detained Khaing Su Wai at the township office for four hours after she lodged her complaint. She told RFA, "[Local authorities] are trying to frighten us, but we are not afraid because we didn’t do anything wrong." Numerous other residents also spoke out against the relocation order during yesterday’s RFA broadcast. The homeowners have also filed a complaint with Burma’s top military leaders. A Rangoon resident who had listened to the RFA broadcast told The Irrawaddy: "Forced relocation is not unusual in this country. But what I am surprised about is that the people are speaking up this time. They know that they could be arrested for speaking out using their real names. This is a kind of defiance that emerges from discontent." Among the 25 homeowners being forced out are Shwe Gu May Hnin, an author and elected Member of Parliament from the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), respected critic and poet Maung Swan Yee, and a retired judge. A former Waggi resident said that two years ago a local investor gave him given 6 million kyat (US $7,000) to move out of his house. The property was later converted into a car wash and an auto repair shop. He said that there had been a deal between the investor and local authorities to move people out of Waggi. Forced relocations have been commonplace in Burma since the military crushed a pro-democracy uprising in 1988. In urban areas, the government has strategically relocated thousands of people to the outskirts of town in hopes of deterring any future protest, while in the countryside, forced relocation has frequently been used to cut off support to armed rebel groups.

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