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Land-grab demonstrators step up protest outside Yangon City Hall


Migyaungkan land-grab protestors block a gate to Yangon City Hall mid-afternoon on December 12, 2014. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

Migyaungkan land-grab protestors block a gate to Yangon City Hall mid-afternoon on December 12, 2014. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

A cacophony of opposing singing and load broadcast music accompanied Migyaungkan land-grab protestors as they blocked a gate to Yangon City Hall mid-afternoon on December 12 in an attempt to ratchet up their call for justice.

Growing increasingly frustrated, the protesters, who have been camped beside Maha Bandoola Park east of the city hall for over 260 days, issued an ultimatum on December 3 that if the authorities fail to solve their land confiscation problems within one week, they will raise the momentum of their protest.

U Maung Maung, one of the leaders of the protesters, said, “We went to the city hall to present our demands to the city authorities but songs were broadcast loudly from the city hall.”

Due to the high volume of the songs broadcast on speakers by the authorities, the protesters stopped their chanting, said U Maung Maung.

The protestors have doggedly pursued for months a claim of being evicted from their land by the military, calling for compensation or alternative plots of land, despite efforts by the police and city authorities to forcibly disperse them. They have sent letters to the Yangon Region government to help resolve the issue.

The protesters say they were forced off the land by the military 20 years ago.

On December 11 morning, the protesters prayed at Sule Pagoda and took oaths before chanting slogans facing Yangon City Hall.

The land in dispute is in Migyaungkan Wards 1, 2 and 3 in Thingangyun Township in northeast Yangon. Their first protest camp ran from October 2 to 6, 2013 and their second ran from November 26 to December 12, 2013. They then returned to camp in front of the Yangon High Court in March 2014 and have kept up the protest ever since.

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