Plots of land seized for an airport
In March 2022, Myanmar’s military junta seized plots of land in Nyaung Gone (Nayaung Kone) village, Mudon Township, Mon State, claiming that the land was required for the construction of an airport. Two months later, in May, the junta ordered the removal of 18 houses, against the wishes of local people, demarcating the boundary of the proposed project area with flags. Preferring to remain anonymous, a villager said, “We’ve said we didn’t agree with the project, but the junta does not care about us. I have to lose half of my land plot. They said they would pay compensation. But we’ve heard nothing about that.” Another villager whose lands were seized said, “If the project really happens, where can we live? They won’t pay the compensation. We’ve lost our house and land plots, so we have a huge problem.”
The construction of an international port near Mawlamyaing (Mawlamyine), Mon State, was announced in June 2022. A Mon State Government official stated that compensation was being calculated for farmland loss in the current project area, with the Myanmar Port Authority under the Ministry of Transport to pay compensation for the losses . Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Aung Kyi Thein made the following statement:
“The international port will be constructed between Balauk Nyaung Waing Village and Wae Kali village in Mudon Village in Mudon Township. According to the field survey, the compensation needs to be calculated for farmland losses which include one village-tract, three fields, 52 farmers, 83 persons holding the Form-7, 360.63 acres of farmland, 3.84 acres of road land, and 4.73 acres of dam land. To implement the concrete construction works outside the international port, compensation be made for one village-tract, three fields, 26 farmers, 31 persons holding the form-7, 23.5 acres of farmland.”  (Form-7 is the land use certificate, created with the 2012 Farm Land Law, functioning as a farmland work permit certificate for people with the right to farm).
Aung Kyi Thein also said that during the 2022-2-23 financial year, experienced companies would be invited to bid for the construction of the proposed international port in Mudon State as there is a short route to connect to Thailand, and there would be an international airport nearby. The port project was to commence after compensation was settled .
Land confiscation and compensation calculations
In July 2022, the Mon State Interim Coordination Committee (MSICC) reported that the junta had removed 18 houses in Nayaung Kone village to build an international airport and that this would be part of a larger land confiscation. Joint secretary of MSICC, Mi Suta Cho said, “It is known that an airport project will be built on 3,000 acres of land in Mudon Township. It could affect the Mon community living nearby. We need to cooperate in combating injustice.” MSICC urged the public to work together to combat injustice as the junta had been forcibly confiscating land for the airport project, and villagers opposed the plan as it was unlikely to involve compensation for the loss of the land .
In August 2022 spokesperson for Mon State Council, Aung Kyi Thein, informed Than Lwin Times that more than 4,600 acres of land had been allocated for an international airport and port near Mawlamyine. He added that compensation for land was planned, but the amount per acre could only be decided after a meeting of the Mon State Military Council. A local resident said the military council was collecting land ownership lists for land earmarked for the airport and port. Mon State Hluttaw Representative Committee stated that the military council’s project is for the benefit of a specific group of people and that, as it is not an official government, confiscating, selling and handing over their land is illegal .
Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Aung Kyi Thein, said compensation was being calculated for selected land areas which include farmland, crops and buildings and that the ministry had 100 million kyats (USD 47,628) of the estimated budget for the 2022-2023 financial year. The total compensation amount for land loss was stated as 27.122 billion kyats (USD 12.9 million). Tasks such as road construction and canal expansion for the projects would only be implemented after the completion of compensation .
Mon Unity Party (MUP) said it would attempt to ensure that local residents, who were worried that their land would be confiscated, would not be harmed by the allocation of land for the airport and port. MUP spokesperson Nai Than Shwe said land confiscation might occur for the projects but would be carried out in accordance with the law to protect farmers . In October 2022, Mon Human Rights (Rehmonnya) reported that thousands of acres - most of the farmland in the villages of Nyne Hlone, Nyaung Gone and Ma Yan - would be confiscated for the international airport. The military council had informed impacted farmers that they would receive compensation at a rate of 6.1 million kyats (USD2,900) per acre, 4 million kyats (USD1,905) for farmland and 2.1 million kyats (USD 1,000) for lost rice production . A farmer said:
“Before the summer, the military council negotiated with the farmers claiming they would pay 3 million Kyat per acre for impacted farmland. Additionally, they also promised to pay for 66 baskets of paddy rice which is the production for the next three years. (Note, the military council has calculated one acre of farmland produces 22 baskets of rice a year so that they will pay for 66 baskets of rice which is the equivalent of three years of production.) At the moment, we can’t buy one acre of farmland with 3 million Kyat. Then, they came a second time and said they would pay 4 million Kyat for one acre of land. Also, they’ll add 2.1 million Kyat for paddy production over the next three years. Then, they forced the farmers to sign the agreement.”
Rehmonnya stated that the compensation offered by the military was much lower than the current market rate and that if farmers had to give up their land at the price offered, it would be a huge loss for them.
Another farmer said:
“When the news (of the airport construction) came out, the military council had already located the project area. They’ll definitely take the land. They have never sent a notice letter to us about the land confiscation. We can’t do anything but accept their compensation and live as landless peasants forever.” 
Reports of land selling
In December 2022, Than Lwin Times reported that individuals with ties to the military council were selling land near the proposed airport and port by dividing it up into small plots. A local resident said people close to the military were buying farmland and dividing it into four parts. The source said some residents were purchasing plots of land to build houses. Some farmers were selling their land, while some were keeping an eye on the situation. Those close to the military were buying land at a good price . U Aung Kyi Thein, a spokesman for Mon State Military Council, stated that land compensation for the airport and port would be paid within three months upon approval by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. He did not say how much compensation would be paid per acre of land. MUP said it was monitoring the airport and port projects and would try to ensure land compensation in accordance with the law .
An economist criticised the airport and port plans, saying the projects would not be beneficial to the economy and would be difficult to implement due to political instability following the military coup and lack of a specific economic policy. A businessman also criticised the airport and port, casting doubts on the economic feasibility if companies were to take over the project and difficulties in implementation with the national budget . The new airport would be close to Kawparam village, while the port would be between Balok Nyaung Wyne and Wakali village, close to the sea outlet .
By March 2023, the airport and port projects were reported to be ‘in limbo’. Locals claimed that roads around the airport site were being repaired, but the project had yet to be implemented, more than a year after the formation of a committee by the military council. A local told the Than Lwin Times, “For the port project and the airport project, no contract businesses have yet arrived on the site. The authorities have not yet paid compensation to those whose land was confiscated.” At this juncture, only one month remained for payment of land compensation within three months, as had been assured by Mon State Chief Minister U Aung Kyi in December 2022 .