Burma: Regime's land grabs disrupt lives in minority communities
Almost two-thirds of farming families from ethnic Ta’ang communities in Burma’s northern Shan State have lost land to the country’s powerful military, according to a new report.
The Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization, or TSYO, says 63 percent of farming families from the Ta’ang community in the area have had land confiscated by the military. The Ta’ang are also known as Palaung.
TSYO researchers estimate that almost 17,400 hectares of land, mostly tea farms, have been confiscated over the last decade. The group estimates that these land grabs have affected at least 8,500 families, many of whom were left homeless after losing their land.
The group says the report is evidence that Burmese land laws are being manipulated to enable the government to “oppress and abuse its people and grab their land at will.”
“Corrupt local authorities have for many years been misusing laws by stripping people of their land and livelihood under so-called orders, with complete disregard for justice and fairness,” said Mai Parn La, who co-authored the report. “… if it does not stop, Ta’ang people will have nowhere left to live or grow food.”
The report points to controversial development projects taking place in northern Shan State as the main driver behind the land confiscations. Three hydropower projects are underway along the Shweli river, and the massive Shwe Gas pipeline, which is set to link Burma’s substantial natural gas reserves with neighbouring China, also runs through the area.
Photo: Road construction around development projects is destroying local tea farms, activists say. (TSYO)