Eviction looms again for industrial zone squatters


YANGON — Nearly 3,000 people living in a military-owned industrial zone on the outskirts of Yangon are facing eviction after defying a third order to leave the site.

The township General Administration Department sent the eviction notice to squatters in the Pyinmabin Industrial Zone in Mingaladon Township on May 22.

Earlier notices were sent in January and April, said township GAD officer U Daewa. “Now we are waiting for instructions from our superiors. I don’t know what action they will decide to take against them,” he said.

The industrial zone, which contains a mixture of factories and vacant land, is managed by the Ministry of Defence.

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“Township officials, police and about 30 other people came to give us the notice. They didn’t say anything about further action,” said Ko Thant Zin Htay, who has lived with his family in the Mayemyan Aung area of Pyinmabin for about 10 years.

“If they come and destroy our homes, we won’t do anything to stop them, but we also won’t run away,” he said.

In January 2016, police forcibly evicted squatters from the site but officials told Frontier that they have returned, and in growing numbers.

Following the evictions in Pyinmabin and some other parts of Yangon, the new regional government under chief minister U Phyo Min Thein announced plans to register “real” squatters across the city and relocate them to new areas.

Local Yangon Region Hluttaw lawmaker U Tun Tun Win (NLD, Mingaladon-1) said a count of squatters in Pyinmabin had found that more than 120 were genuine. He said there was no clear definition for what constituted a “real” squatter, but officials made a judgment based on a range of factors, including how long a person had lived in the area and where they were officially registered on their household list.

“We are facing difficulties listing the squatters because the number is rising all the time,” Tun Tun Win said.

U Maung Ko, a legal resident of Pyinmabin Ward, agreed the numbers were increasing. “Three or five years ago there wasn’t many squatters here, but over the past two years it has filled up with homeless people,” he said. “They may be really homeless, but I think some are not.”

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