January 21, 2009: Burmese military authorities have seized 100 acres of land for a tea plantation in Falam Township in Chin State in western Myanmar.
Falam-based Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 268 seized around 100 acres of land, owned by the Mangkheng village, which is 5 miles away from Falam Township, in December 2008 to set up a tea plantation.
"Usually we have our own land for each village in order to get wood and other daily products for our livelihood. But, now the military has occupied 100 acres of our land," a villager said.
The military personnel have cleaned the land for a tea plantation. It has made it difficult for the villagers to get wood for cooking food. They do not enjoy electricity or gas regularly in order to prepare food.
"The villagers will now have to work as labourers in planting tea and cleaning bushes for the plantation daily," a villager said.
"Some villagers are planning to shift to other villages as there is no wood to cut for cooking food. At the same time they know that they will be forced to work for the tea plantation by the authorities," he added.
There exists 500 acres of tea plantations on the Falam-Hakha roadside, 25 miles from the Falam Township, which is looked after by the villagers. Those villages are Ramthlo, Dokthek, Rulbu, Hrianghnang, Tiadai, L.Zamual, Mangkheng, Thlanrawn, and Rialti. The villagers have to turn out daily; if they fail they have to pay a fine of Kyat 2000 as penalty.
The Burmese military junta has already projected Chin state as a tea plantation area. Therefore, more and more tea plantations have been set up from the year 2000, in Chin State. Currently, tea plantations cover a total area of 15,000 acres in Chin State.