Mon farmers push for land rights: report


A girl watching her family's cows on farmland near Mawlamyine city, Mon State, Myanmar, July 5, 2013. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

A report just released highlights the ongoing land conflict that many farmers reportedly face in Mon State, according to a press release received February 17.

The Human Rights Foundation of Monland has produced the report, “Yearning to be Heard: Mon Farmers’ Continued Struggle for Acknowledgement and Protection of their Rights,” in an effort to advocate for ethnic Mon farmers’ land rights.

Land conflict is the most pressing issue facing Myanmar today, second only to armed conflict, according the rights group.

The report contends that land conflicts in Mon State must be adequately and independently investigated in order to provide justice to victims of land rights abuse, while simultaneously identifying the root cause of land conflict in Myanmar.

“Victims of land confiscation under the previous military regime and today’s quasi-civilian government demand justice through reparations and the protection of their rights under the law, however, relevant authorities consistently neglect their calls for justice, leaving the majority of cases of land conflict throughout Burma’s ethnic states unresolved,” the press release says.

The rights group identifies the central causes of land conflict in Myanmar to be found in land policy that refuses to recognize communal and ancestral rights and fails to protect ethnic farmers’ rights, and the absence of available legal avenues through which victims may take action against unjust confiscations which have been perpetrated by the military in accordance with antiquated laws.

In addition, the causes can be linked to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation’s monopoly over land management and allocation, the lack of any real authority granted to government-appointed land commissions and committees in decision-making and conflict resolution, and political parties’ reticence in supporting and promoting the resolution of Myanmar’s land conflict.

The Human Rights Foundation of Monland urges the relevant government bodies to recognize ancestral land laws, immediately stop all acts of land confiscation, to protect landowners’ rights, and for the government to establish an independent judicial body which victims may access to obtain fair judgment on cases of land conflict.

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