Published on Friday, 21 February 2014 00:39
The DKBA group donating rice, edible oil, salt and food rations to the evicted villagers (Photo-EMG)
YANGON—The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) has invited evicted residents from Thameekalay Village in Yangon’s Hlegu Township to be driven to Kayin State but no one has joined the group, according to local sources.
Three DKBA commanders yesterday visited Aung Theikdi monastery in Bago Region, where the villagers have taken shelter since being evicted. The soldiers provided them with rice, edible oil, salt and rations. They then asked the villagers if they wished to come along for settlement in Kayin State. The villagers reportedly refused, saying they would wait for some response from the government.
“The reason we didn’t leave here to follow them is that we are not familiar with that place (Kayin State). We can only do farm work. Moreover, we don’t know what to do there. If the authorities force us to leave here once our children have finished their final exams, we will go there. If all those leave here, our family will also leave,” said one evicted villager, Khin Thidar Soe.
DKBA’s tactical commandant Colonel Saw Hsan Aung said that the villagers would not be forced to go to Kayin.
“It’s their decision. On humanitarian grounds, we can help them with their living conditions. If they want to come along with us, we have already arranged accommodation for them,” he said.
According to another DKBA official, the evicted villagers asked to be given about seven days to decide so that their school-aged children can finish their exams. If there is no response from the authorities at that time, they said they would accept the invitation, he added.
The Bago Township administrator said it was up to the villagers to decide whether or not to join the DKBA group.
“We cannot say anything if they want to go. It’s up to them. They can go along if they wish. We will not stop them,” said administrator Khin Thein Maung.
The DKBA group reportedly left the monastery at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday (February 19).
When contacted on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Ye Htut told The Daily Eleven that people moving to Yangon from other regions have been living rent-free. Some people taking shelter in the city come specifically to take advantage of the situation, he said.
“The government is creating job prospects not only in Yangon but also other parts of the country, with the intention of addressing squatter issues. In doing so, it hopes to reduce the number of people that are moving to urban areas,” he said.
“Moreover, the government is reclaiming vacant and virgin lands in Yangon Region as well as other regions and states, constructing affordable housing to enable homeless people to enjoy them. The government will have to take action against those who manage the squatters living in rent-free places by charging them in accordance with the law,” said Ye Htut, also deputy information minister.
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