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Myanmar: Land grabbing tops list of rights violations

Graphic: Man sitting on land

Most of the 6,000 complaints received by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission since 2011 involve land confiscation by force.

The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has received about 6,000 complaints since its establishment in 2011 and most of them involve land confiscation by force.

"Most of the complaints are about land grabbing, as the complainants want to reclaim their land from the government and the military," said Commission's Chairman U Win Mra told Eleven Media.

"Others involve businessmen alleged to have unscrupulously secured land," he said.

All received complaints have been scrutinised and the relevant authorities notified, with government agencies submitting their defence to some complaints, said the Chairman.

Land is a vital possession for farmers in Myanmar, who comprise around 65 per cent of population.

Over the past few years – with a relaxation of bans on public protests – many farmers have taken to the streets to publicly voice their complaints. Some brought their cases to courts, but most of them failed to win.

Many farmers accuse government agencies or the military of seizing their land and depriving them of the right to farm it. Some say their land was taken from them and allocated to other farmers.

U Win Mra admitted that more farmers are turning to the Commission to help solve land disputes.

"The Commission is a buffer between people and the authorities," he said.

"If they bring their cases to court, they will have to face expensive costs and the complicated process. That's why they become dependent on our Commission."

Eleven Media also reported that the Commission has submitted a proposal urging the government to sign the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

"Our task is to convince and support the government to join in international human rights agreements," said U Win Mra

The Commission has previously advised the government to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Date: 6 September 2014

Image credits

  1. Man sitting on land - KX Studio, Flickr Creative Commons