Following villagers’ complaints U Khin Maung Oo, the Prime Minister of Karenni State is negotiating with the Burma Army about them using land in Daw-Ta-Ma-Gyi Village-Tract in Demawso Township, Karenni State as a firing range for artillery practice.
At a 15 January press conference U Khin Maung Oo said: “We authorities meet with the army every year. The army have to carry out [artillery] tests for their training, but the people do not want this, so it has led to confrontation between both sides. But, as we are the government so we can speak to the army about the people’s complaints. I hope we can resolve the situation.”
A letter of complaint by the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) about the army’s use of villagers’ farmland as a firing range for soldiers being trained to operate mortars was sent to the Border Security Minister of Karenni State and the Regional Operations Command (ROC) based in Loikaw Town on 10 January.
The Kantarawaddy Times asked the Karenni Border and State Minister for a comment on the situation at the Kayah (Karenni) State Day celebrations held in Loikaw Town on 15 January, but the minister declined to comment.
U Koreh, the State Social Affairs Minister said that though the board members of the state government discuss such community problems they have not yet discussed this one.
He said: “We heard that they have currently stopped [using the land for artillery practice]. Some of our friends are out in the field checking but we have not received their report. Normally the executive committee discusses this kind of issue. We have received no [letter of] complaint from the people.”
Despite the letter of complaint from the KNPP the executive committee has not yet discussed the army’s use of villagers’ land in Daw-Ta-Ma-Gyi Village-Tract as a practice artillery range.
Trainee solders from No. 14 advanced training school of the Burma Army started practicing firing mortars in Daw-Ta-Ma-Gyi Village-Tract one year ago. From 19 to 22nd January 2014 over 2,000 troops came to the area and fired over 100 rounds of mortar shells. From 22 to 24 September over 1,000 troops came to the area to practice firing mortars.
On 3 January 2015 more troops came to practice firing mortars but they were unable to due to a protest by 300 farmers.
Translated by Aung Myat Soe English version written by Mark Inkey for BNI
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