Farm­ers seek re­form of seized lands scru­tiny

The Myanmar Times - - News - NAY AUNG nayaung@mm­times.com

VIL­LAGERS in Magwe Re­gion’s Sin­baungwe town­ship are call­ing for the re­con­sti­tu­tion of com­mit­tees in the town­ship tasked with re­solv­ing seized land claims, say­ing their cur­rent mem­ber­ships do not have lo­cals’ ap­proval.

A let­ter urg­ing the shake-up was sent on Au­gust 11 to Magwe Re­gion Chief Min­is­ter U Aung Moe Nyo, the re­gional Farm­ers, Work­ers and Youth Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, and Sin­baungwe town­ship’s Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion De­part­ment.

U Paw Oo, chair of the Sin­baungwe town­ship Farm­ers Net­work, said, “Those who can speak on be­half of the pub­lic ... should be in­volved in the com­mit­tees at the vil­lage, town­ship and na­tional level. The sub­mis­sion call­ing for its ref­or­ma­tion is due to the un­sat­is­fac­tory prac­tice of, for con­ve­nience sake, pick­ing the 10-house­hold group el­ders’ names to take part in it.”

In May, U Paw Oo told The Myan­mar Times that farm­ers in Sin­baungwe town­ship were re­viv­ing a cam­paign to re­cover more than 12,000 acres of paddy-grow­ing land that was con­fis­cated by the mil­i­tary in 1998. Protests in the town­ship in 2014 saw thou­sands of de­mon­stra­tors de­mand that they be al­lowed to con­tinue to farm on land des­ig­nated for a for­est re­serve more than 10 years ago.

U Paw Oo last week said the lack of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion in form­ing the ward- and vil­lage tract-level com­mit­tees – and the ab­sence farm­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives – was par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­atic given the im­por­tance of the com­mit­tees to vic­tims of land seizures seek­ing re­dress.

U Aung Kyaw Kyaw, an ex­pert in farm­land law and a Magwe Re­gion Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion ad­viser, said, “For­ma­tion of the com­mit­tees has been wrong ev­ery step of the way, ac­cord­ing to para­graph 41[d] of the farm­land pol­icy [Myan­mar’s na­tional land-use pol­icy], in which it is men­tioned that ev­ery sin­gle step must in­volve farm­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives. But there is no farmer rep­re­sen­ta­tion ... so far. It is proof of what is wrong.”

Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw es­tab­lished the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee for Re-scru­ti­n­is­ing Seized Farm­lands and Other Lands in May, with re­gional, state-, town­ship- and ward/vil­lage tract-level au­thor­i­ties in­structed to fol­low suit.

– Trans­la­tion by Emoon

Photo: Nay Aung

A farmer walks near cul­ti­vated land in Sin­baungwe town­ship in Magwe Re­gion.

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