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11.05.2005 General News

Military warned to stay off La land

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Accra, May 11, GNA - Some La citizens in Accra on Wednesday undertook a peaceful demonstration through the principal streets of the town to demand the return of their land being occupied by the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).

They vowed to "fiercely" resist all attempts by the GAF to take over additional lands belonging to the traditional area.

At a press conference preceding the demonstration, Mr David Lartey, Secretary of the La Dadekotopon Development Trust said the land on which Burma Camp is situated was far bigger than the La Township, thus taking over about 80 percent of their lands.

"And for the 50 or more years that the Burma Camp has been in existence, not a pesewa has been paid by way of ground rent to the people of La."

Mr. Lartey said about three years ago, the Trust received information that a Chinese contractor was clearing several acres of the Trust's land unilaterally to build a barracks for the military.

He said after a meeting with the military authorities and a combined visit to the site by both parties, it was clear that the construction was an encroachment on La land.

Mr. Lartey said the leadership of the Trust thus had to prevail on the youth, who swore to protect what rightfully belonged to them for calm to be restored and yet the military continued with the project until it was completed.

He said in recent weeks, there had been a radical approach by the military that have destroyed a number of properties belonging to legitimate developers.

Mr. Lartey claimed that on Monday, February 28, this year armed military personnel, invaded their land and destroyed some property, and then returned again on March 2 to further destroyed more property. Then on March 29, 2005 armed military personnel went to the said land and continued to destroy property.

He said the acts were reported to the military high command and the government, who have not responded to their protest till date.

"We have used all diplomatic avenues to settle the problem but it has come to no avail."

He said those factors have compelled the people of La to vow to claim their lands of about 2000 acres that adjoined Burma Camp behind the Trade Fair grounds, even at the peril of their lives.

"This is exactly the reason why the people of La find it incomprehensible and extremely disgusting, recent acts perpetrated by the military which could only be described as attempts to unlawfully annex the said land."

Mr Lartey said the land in question was the only one left for the expansion of the La township, saying "annexing the land will be like touching on the raw nerve of the people of La. It is also tantamount to snuffing out the last breath of life from the people."

" For whatever intent and purpose any further incursion and destruction of property by the military on this land of our heritage bequeathed to us by our forefathers will be fiercely resisted of course not with arms but with the vim and determination of a people whose rights have been taken for granted and who are prepared to sacrifice the last ounce of blood to retain what rightfully belongs to them", he said.

"If the military want to take our land illegitimately, they would have to kill to the last person in La because we would fight vehemently to get our lands back", he added.

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