Karen Human Rights Group launches report on land grabbing and human rights violations

Pyae Phyo Aung

Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) has launched a report on land grabbing and human rights violations resulting from development projects in southeast part of Myanmar that local people did not have the chance to get involved in.

The report launching ceremony was held at Orchid Hotel in Yangon on August 29. The report aims to enable the authorities to identify and solve problems such as land grabs in Kayin (Karen) State and human rights violations by the companies that came to the state for implementation of development projects after peace was made with the government.

"Under mixed control, local ethnics do not know where they have to do land registration. There are different land laws under two governments. Local people in rural areas have more difficulties. After the peace agreement had been reached, more companies came to the state in order to run businesses such as construction of buildings, mining, road construction and agriculture and livestock breeding. In this context, those companies have ignored the human rights of the local people," said programmer director Naw Htoo Htoo from KHRG.

Those who are getting involved in such businesses in Kayin State, southeastern part of Myanmar, envision large profits. So they have sidelined the rights of the local people and land grabbing is the most worrying problem, the report points out.

"As their land plots have been seized, local people have their livelihoods affected. They were forced to move to other places. The people have not been ready to resettle in other places," said Naw Htoo Htoo.

With regard to land management in the southeastern part of the country, there are two land registration systems—one by the government and the other by Karen National Union. Both systems have given lcaol people the rights to get land-related legal documents. Since 2012, authorities have been issuing land registration, drawing maps and issuing land permits for farming. Then, more local people have been trying to get land permits so as to prevent their land from being seized by companies implementing development projects in the state. Although the local people have realised the importance of land permits, they do not clearly know the procedures to get permits and how to apply for.