A rights activist organisation in Myanmar has said that land grabbing is the largest problem in the country, violating the basic rights of not only farmers but those who decide to protest.
Aung Myo Min, director of Equality Myanmar, was replying to the question by Eleven Media during a workshop held on the eve of the 65th Anniversary of International Human Rights Day. “These days, the land issue is most common in Myanmar. It is being dealt with by forming a committee to investigate land seizures. There are also those who are staging protests for the return of seized land. The land problem is in every region. Its impact is very big,” said Aung Myo Min.
He added that farmers had always been overwhelmed by fear, not daring to speak out against authorities. He said these violations of human rights would continue to exist even among the educated as they also don’t dare to speak out.
“Another thing is that human rights activists are facing problems with peaceful assembly in and around Yangon. But outside Yangon, those fighting for their seized land are also being arrested under Section of 18 of Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law. This is another important issue,” he added.
Under military rule, government ministries and crony companies seized land across the country on the pretext of implementing projects. Consequently, land owners staged protests to demand back their land. The protestors and those who helped with the protests have faced arrest and imprisonment under various laws.
Some government ministers are being criticised for being linked to the companies that have seized land although they belong to a leading committee formed under the Farmers Rights Protection Law, which President Thein Sein signed on October 12.