Ethnic minority land rights next hurdle for Myanmar peace
The general public and Myanmar’s mainstream media have little awareness of ethnic concerns, said Yangon-based Tom Kramer from the Transnational Institute (TNI).
In March 2012, the government passed two new land bills, supposedly designed to help farmers with land rights. In fact, however, they provide little protection and could make more farmers landless, say activists.
Experts say the laws also do not address shifting cultivation practised by many ethnic groups in upland, border areas. Under the laws, the government could consider such land vacant and give it to companies for large-scale infrastructure.
“The new laws are mainly seen to benefit local and international companies and not the majority smallholder farmers, especially in Burma’s ethnic borderlands,” said TNI’s Kramer.
“Furthermore, in combination with new ceasefires with armed ethnic opposition groups, the laws have already begun to facilitate land grabbing in conflict-affected areas.”