Land confiscation problems worsen


Farmers from Shan State hold a press conference at Taunggyi Catholic Church memorial hall in southern Shan State on January 3, 2016. Photo: Htet Htet/Mizzima

Farmers from Shan State held a press conference at Taunggyi Catholic Church memorial hall in southern Shan State on January 3, 2016, to protest against unfair treatment when trying to reclaim their confiscated lands.

The farmers said that they faced threats when trying to retake lands taken from them in southern Shan State and in some case were prosecuted in court instead of having their land disputes settled.

NLD party Shan State Peasants’ Affairs Committee In-charge Win Naing Soe said they estimated that over 300,000 acres of land had been confiscated in southern Shan State alone, mostly by the Myanmar military, local people’s militias and businessmen.

An advocate from Taunggyi, Thein Shwe, who represented a number of such cases said, “The 2012 Law has been promulgated and enacted but this law does not give any protection to the farmers. Because of the consequences of enacting this law, 12 farmers from Yaybu village have been prosecuted. We demand amendment of unjust laws. In the last five years, the laws were passed and enacted but no law is effective and helpful for the farmers. In addition, disputes in lands grabbed by crony capitalists have not been settled yet.”

In land cases at the courts, farmers can only produce their land revenue payment receipts given to them before their lands were grabbed in 1988. Many cannot produce their land ownership titles and deeds so they are losing their court battles, the farmers said.

The 2012 Land Law was enacted to settle these land disputes and land management committees were formed to address these issues.

Shan State Generation Force member Aung Aung who provides assistance in land confiscation cases said, “The farmers thought these land management committees would render assistance to them in their land dispute cases but these committees are working only for the land grabbers who took these lands from farmers by force illegally. We hope the new government will make these land committees work towards giving assistance to farmers in settling their land dispute cases.”

This press conference was attended by over 3,000 farmers from southern Shan State whose lands had been taken.

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