Man Who Told Suu Kyi About Military ‘Land Grab’ Charged With Defamation

A farmer from Myeik is facing a two year prison sentence after he complained during a town hall style meeting with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi that the military had taken his land.

A military captain has filed a defamation lawsuit under section 500 against Myo Thu Naing, 26, after he asked the State Counsellor to intervene in his case during her visit to the region in February.

“I was just presenting the problem to an authority who could solve it. I want lawful protection,” he told Myanmar Now.

He is already facing trespassing and criminal damage charges that could see him jailed for up to two years and three months after he refused to vacate his home to make way for the military in 2017.

Myo Thu Naing said he owned a house and a pig farm on just under two acres of land in Ywa Thit village, Myeik township, but was ordered to leave in 2017 by Logistics Battalion 937, which told him he was on military property.

Colonel Thant Zin Oo, regional chief of the Coastal Command, said the land belonged to the battalion and Myo Thu Naing refused to move.

The farmer claims that it was a land grab was defamatory, he added.  

“We had to file a second lawsuit because he said the army grabbed his land forcefully, and it marred the army’s image,” he said.

Myo Thu Naing said his family has been living on the land for 26 years.

His case is the latest in a series of land disputes between villagers and the military across the country.

Last year the military sued 22 villagers in Mandalay region for squatting on land it said was owned by an Air Defence Battalion.

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