Hopes remain that, through political negotiation, democratic reforms will be achieved which lead to just and inclusive solutions. But as the countdown to the 2015 general election begins, concerns are growing that essential reforms will not be delivered.
New data shows that less than one-quarter of the area of large-scale land concessions awarded to businesses since 2010-11 is being used for agriculture. This raises “serious questions” about the government’s land use policies.
In July the First Southeast Asia Opium Farmers Forum was held, bringing together some 30 representatives of local communities involved in opium cultivation and local community workers from the major opium growing regions in Southeast Asia.
“Important steps have been made in national reconciliation during the past two years. But promises and ceremonies will never be enough. The long-standing aspirations of Burma’s peoples for peace and justice must find solutions during the present time of national transition.”
In an effort to protect lands that were confiscated or stolen for recent development projects and business development in Karen State, the Karen National Union is working on a land policy that will then be proposed to the Burma government.
A grand ceremony is expected to be held next month in the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw, where a nationwide ceasefire with various ethnic resistance armies will be announced to an audience of United Nations representatives and other foreign dignitaries.
A briefing paper jointly published earlier this month by the Netherlands-based think tank groups has asserted that new ceasefires that have been signed since 2011 have further facilitated land grabbing in conflict-affected areas where large development projects in resource-rich ethnic regions have already taken place.
International experts have warned that the use of investment treaty ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)’ for attracting foreign investments into Myanmar is risky as it grants the investors the right to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against the government under international laws.
About 40 ethnic activist groups are calling on the government, ethnic militias and the international community to address a surge in land-grabbing, as companies move into Burma’s ethnic regions following recent ceasefire agreements.