According to the farmers, the akim of the Uzgen region, in conspiracy with local authorities, have issued favorable agricultural sites to the figurehead and in return issued wasteland far away from the farmers homes.
Author: Ernist Nurmatov, freelance journalist (Osh)
This article was prepared in cooperation with the bureau for journalistic investigation of the IWPR.
Uzgen: Farmland disputes between the akim and the farmers
In Uzgen, 80 farmers owning 246 hectares of land have complained about regional akim Attokur Tajibayev, of confiscating their land.
According to them, the head of the district captured their land by hiring figurehead and renewing a defunct cooperative. The akim claims that the pretensions are baseless.
Abdyhafiz Mamadaliyev is one of those farmers. Even though possesses the documents of the land, he has not been successful in obtaining it. He said that, like many other Kyrgyz citizens, he purchased a portion of land during the 90’s which was appropriated according to family size. He has the documents and certificates on his hand.
“They just came here and drove 80 of us out. They seized this land with violence. They openly made threats and put pressure on us. Moreover, they confiscated the land and didn’t even regard us as human beings”, – said Mamadaliyev.
Apparently, the new owners of the confiscated land have been enjoying the riches of their produce for three years. Appeals to the leading authorities and to the courts were of no avail.
“Do the rights of the Kyrgyz citizens even mean anything? Or can authorities do as they please and confiscate whoever land they want?” – is how farmer Mamadaliyev raised the questions.
The matter relates to 80 households who were granted 129 hectares of land. These farmers worked 117 hectares of land together in a cooperative named “Gulamjan Mavlyanov”. As a result, the fields covering the lands surrounding the Kara-Darya River in the town of Uzgen, the total area consisted of 246 hectares of land.
However, the Uzgen district akimate has revived a defunct cooperative named “Uzgen rice” and seized all 246 hectares of land for themselves.
According to the chairman of the “Gulamjan Mavlyanov” cooperative, Alimurat Janybekov, the farmers paid their taxes for the land that was granted by the government fond they had reached a resolution with the akim. Nevertheless, apparently “another resolution was created on top of the existing resolution” that stated the handover of the land to the cooperative named “Uzgen rice”.
“They didn’t even give it to the cooperative but to a person named Abdurashid Abdullayev. Abdullayev had until then no employment records nor any records of him having worked rice fields. He doesn’t even know the ways of agriculture”, – said Janybekov.
“Abdullayev is simply one of the akims hired men, in reality the income is handed over to the akim. They earn 4 to 4.5 million Som a year working these fields but don’t pay a single penny in taxes”, – added Alimurat Janybekov.
The head of the “Gulamjan Mavlyanov” cooperative Muzaffar Ulamkadyrov, has made it known that Uzgen district’s akim Attokur Tajibayev is behind all of this. He indicated that he earns 4 million Som a year at the expense of the general populace.
“We can’t even say that we are dealing with possibility of corruption. This is pure corruption. That’s because they confiscated the land entirely”, – said Muzaffar Ulamkadyrov.
Attokur Tajibayev did this case in full collaboration with government authorities. The high-ranking government authorities in the Osh region had their hands in this as well. It was they awho did it on purpose by establishing a protocol together and re-appropriating the fields of the “Gulamjan Mavlyanov” cooperative to the “Uzgen Rice” cooperative. But in practice, the “Gulamjan Mavlyanov” cooperative and the “Uzgen-Rice” Cooperative are completely different institutions”, – is how Ulamkadyrov deciphered the situation.
The reply of the akim
The head of the “Uzgen Rice” cooperative Abdurashid Abdullayev has refused to give an interview. The Uzgen district’s akim Attokur Tajibayev has emphasized that all acts were done within the scope of the law and that there were not any peculiarities.
The “Uzgen-Rice” cooperative filed in a complaint to me with the request of working the lands. If I had not given them the land, then they would have complained to the government. Then a special committee was sent by the government with the decision that the land was to be granted, – is how akim Tajibayev explains. – Later on, I complied with the decision of the committee and gave them the land. This was all within the law”.
After the decision, the heads of the Mavlyanov cooperative sued the akim. But the court has decided twice in favor of the government. We are now waiting for the third decision.
“I have no personal interest in the matter, – remarked Attokur Tajibayev. – I do not even know Abdullayev very well. He is just a farmer like many others and the cooperative was set up by him personally”.
Akim Tajibayev swept aside any allegations surrounding the news that he had seized the lands of the farmers for himself.
“No one has seized their lands, – the akim continues. Of the 246 hectares, half of it was eaten away by water. In connection with that, the farmers were granted lands in another area”.
According to them, “they didn’t want to go there because it too far away, the rest of the land that was not eaten away by the water belongs to the government fond. And because it belongs to the government, they have a right to confiscate it and grant to another person who pays taxes”.
However, the farmers went to the authorities on the pretext that they were given a different portion of land. Farmer Alimurat Janybekov further added:
-Yes it’s true, parts of the land that was eaten away by water do belong to us. But they even seized land that was unharmed on the pretext that it belongs to them. They land we received in compensation is located on a hill where water doesn’t exist, it is not suited for growing rice. Even the farmers whose land was flooded requested that they be given their land back and would make the effort to pick up all the stones and rework it. Despite this, they paid no heed whatsoever and seized our land. Ever since the incident took place in 2011 we have not received either our previous lands nor the lands from the government fond. That is why our cooperative is out of order.
As you may know, the 246 hectares of land, which are in question, are administrated by the Uzgen district’s Bash-Dobo village. According to the land experts, even they have not been able to collect taxes at the moment. They now owe one million Som out of the budget for every month of rice fields left unworked.
Photos: Ernist Nurmatov