Wed 27 Feb 2013
Filed under: Inside Burma,News,Protest / Strike
Police used only four rubber bullets and one lead bullet in yesterday’s clashes with local farmers over land dispute between them and a fish-farm operator in Maletto village, Maubin Township, Ayeyawady Region, the deputy chief of the Region Police Force told the Eleven Media Group this morning.
“Policemen were injured in large numbers as they defended against the locals with rubber batons only,” deputy chief Tun Min said. He admitted that the police fired guns, but emphasized four rubber bullets and one lead bullet were only used as the protestors became very violent.
“Police force members would have never threatened or responded if the locals followed discipline and order,” the deputy police chief said.
“Company staff had to flee fearing the mobs, who broke up the fish ponds and caught fish. A curfew was imposed yesterday as the situation became more violent on Monday. We warned the villagers two times as they failed to follow the order. We first negotiated with them but they insisted on returning their land immediately. Finally, they started attacking the police with all available weapons such as swords and rods because no compromise could be reached,“ he added.
Yesterday’s clashes injured 27 policemen and 15 local farmers, who are now in a local hospital. One police private died in Yangon General Hospital from head injuries, hospital staff said.
All the patients are being given medical treatment at the hospital. As soon as we have heard of the clash between the police and the farmers, we have prepared for X-ray rooms and surgical rooms. We sent a health team and an ambulance to the scene. A police suffered a crack on his skull and the victim was handed over to Yangon General Hospital, the medical superintendent of Maubin People’s Hospital said.
Among those sent to the hospital, 16 were discharged from the hospital and the remaining ones are not in a serious condition.
Social organizations in Maubin Township provided assistance to ensure the injured to be admitted to the hospital. Some are hiding as they fear of being arrested in the villages, Htaik Htaik of a social organization said.
The villagers said those lands owned to them and broke opened the fish ponds. The police told the crowd to withdraw from the scene, but in vain. In the evening, the clash happened between the police and the villagers. Both sides suffered injuries, Ngae Lay of Orchid Agriculture and Breeding Company said on the night of February 26.
The farmers are claiming to get back the farmlands for six days. Article 144 curfew was imposed by the authorities.
The local people still remain in the conflict area and if the crowd does not disperse, the police may do something soon.