Thu 15 Aug 2013
Filed under: Inside Burma,Military,News
Police in Nay Pyi Taw say they expect to complete an investigation this week into complaints that a prominent general pulled a gun on farmers when tensions boiled over in a long-running land dispute.
As The Myanmar Times reported last month, the farmers allege that Major General Soe Shein, a personal staff officer of former Senior General Than Shwe, pointed a gun at them and threatened to shoot during the July 5 confrontation.
Police in Aye Lar village initially refused to act on the complaint submitted by Ko Aung Than Oo and Ma Khin Thint.
In late July Lewe township police station began interviewing witnesses but stepped up its investigation on August 9.
U Soe Min Thein, the head of the township police force office in Lewe township, said on August 13 that police plan to interview 10 witnesses as part of their investigation, which they expect to have finished in the third week of August.
He conceded there had been delays in investigating the complaints but said this was because some of witnesses “being sick or travelling”.
“The police force office in Nay Pyi Taw has instructed me to conduct the investigation based on their complaint and report the findings to the head of the township police force. The township police force will take it from there,” he said.
“We expect to have the investigation completed in the next week.”
Based on the evidence, he said, the township police office will decide whether to forward it to the court.
The alleged confrontation occurred after Maj Gen Soe Shein accused the farmers of cultivating land he was able to acquire in 2010-11 under Myanmar’s land laws because it was officially listed as vacant. The farmers say he acquired it improperly as he did not disclose that they were already farming it.
Maj Gen Soe Shein told The Myanmar Times on July 11 that he had repeatedly warned the villagers not to cultivate his land. He did not deny threatening them with a gun.
“I’m always warning them not to,” he said. “I own that land officially. But they kept doing it so we wanted to intimidate them a little bit.”
While the case appears a David versus Goliath battle between farmers and a leading member of the Tatmadaw, the Lewe residents say they have also received assistance from Daw Sandar Min, the Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Zabuthiri township from the National League for Democracy. – Translated by Zar Zar Soe