OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGO #0089 0241046
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241046Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5645
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0137
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 4455
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3714
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 7235
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4813
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 1035
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1034
RUDKIA/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0820
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3022
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0673 C O N F I D E N T I A L RANGOON 000089
STATE FOR EAP/MLS; PACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2017
SUBJECT: REGIME STRONGARMS BURMESE SUGARCANE FARMERS
Classified By: Poloff Dean Tidwell for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Authorities from Aunglan Township, Magway
Division, ordered local sugarcane farmers to sell their crops
to government sugar mills at less than one-third the market
price. When farmers opted to sell their cane to local
cottage industries that produce brown sugar using traditional
boilers, local authorities and armed soldiers sealed the
local processing centers and threatened the farmers.
Activists are helping the farmers to write a complaint to
regime leader Than Shwe, and the farmers are prepared to
fight their case in court. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) Local civil authorities accompanied by seven soldiers
visited Let Pa Kan village, Aunglan Township, Magway
Division, on January 21 evening after local farmers refused
to sell their sugarcane to government-owned sugar mills,
choosing instead to sell it to local cottage producers of
brown sugar. The government ordered the farmers to sell
their cane to Government Sugar Factory No. 5 and 6 at the
rate of $7 (9,000 kyat) per ton, while local brown sugar
producers had offered the farmers $23 (30,000 kyat) per ton.
The frightened farmers and brown sugar producers immediately
went into hiding.
3. (SBU) On January 23, Major Khun Myint Naing, manager of a
local regime-owned sugar mill, accompanied by Township Peace
and Development Committee (PDC) Chairman Myint Wai, Ward PDC
Chairman Than Htun, and several armed soldiers returned to
Let Pa Kan village and sealed the local brown sugar
production units. The authorities scolded the villagers for
producing only 6,000 tons of cane last year vice the
government target of 10,000 tons for the village. One old
Let Pa Kan resident said the authorities' actions were
reminiscent of raids by "fascist Japanese soldiers" on their
village during World War II.
4. (C) According to a villager who spoke by telephone to a
Pol/Econ FSN, last year the government forced the cane
farmers to sell half of their crop at an artificially low
rate. The farmer said the government rate was not sufficient
to cover their costs.
5. (SBU) According to the source, the SPDC exempts sugarcane
from government controls and farmers may sell it on the open
market. He said the farmers grow their crops legally and pay
all required taxes. However, rather than face hunger by
agreeing to the local authorities' demands, the farmers
decided this year to sell their cane crop at market rates.
The villagers reported that Township PDC Chairman Myint Wai
told them he was following orders from the Division level and
that he was not afraid of media reports about his actions.
Human rights activists are helping the villagers to prepare a
legal case against the authorities, and are gathering local
farmers' signatures to petition Senior General Than Shwe.
6. (C) COMMENT: This latest case follows other recent media
reports about the military forcing farmers in Bago Division,
Rakhine State, and Shan State to sell their rice crops at
half the market price. Burmese farmers have grown tired of
pressure to sell their crops to the government and military
at unreasonably low prices and many are starting to stand up
for their own rights. The government's heavy-handed
intervention to support state-owned industries only serves to
distort the market and create further shortages. END COMMENT.
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