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63% of Families Lose Land and Livelihoods to Destructive Development and Land Grabs in the Ta’ang area

By Ta'ang Students and Youth Organization  •  November 22, 2011

A new report released by Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO) estimates that 63% of farming families have lost their land to confiscation by the Burmese military and their cronies. Despite much-publicized political “reforms” in the country, the authorities have refused to stop land confiscation, causing more threats to families’ livelihoods and food security.

The report ‘Grabbing Land: Destructive Development in the Ta’ang Area’ exposes shocking realities and impacts of land confiscation in the Ta’ang area of Northern Shan State and shows how contradictory Burmese land laws are manipulated to enable the military-led Government to oppress and abuse its people and grab their land at will. The Burmese Government also fails to adhere to the international legal framework of Housing Land and Property Rights in Burma.

Mai Parn La co-author of TSYO’s report says ‘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. More than 63% of families surveyed have already been affected and the land confiscations are still going on. If it does not stop, Ta’ang people will have nowhere left to live or grow food. ’

The report points to the massive development projects taking place in Northern Shan State as the main reasons behind the Land Confiscation namely: Three Shweli Hydropower Dams, the Shwe Gas and Oil Pipelines and the China-Myanmar Railway Transportation project. In addition increased militarization, continued corruption, road expansion in Namhsan and Kyat Suu projects in the area have led to a subsequent rise in human rights violations suffered by the Ta’ang people (also known as Palaung) from the Burmese Military.

TSYO have documented that approximately 42,940 acres of land has been confiscated and estimates that over 8,588 families have been affected by land confiscation. These numbers are set to rise even further as development projects progress. The impacts to the Ta’ang people are devastating; they have lost their lands, homes and livelihoods and have received inadequate or no compensation for their losses. The majority of the benefits from the projects will not be for the local people but will be given to neighbouring China. The victims of land confiscation are not consulted about their fate; they are simply ordered to move.

The lives of Ta’ang people have been shattered as this victim of land confiscation explains: “I am so sad because after they confiscated our farm three days ago my wife died. And also two of my sons are very sad and don’t want to stay at home after the death of their mother, they left home. Two of my daughters who attend high school have had to drop out from their school. We only had the farm. We don’t have experience to do other jobs so it is very difficult for us to find another job’

TSYO calls for the Burmese Government to respect the Housing, Land and Property Rights of its people, to end human rights violations, for the Government and foreign development companies to have more transparency and accountability about these projects as well as securing informed consent from the people affected from the projects. TSYO call the Burmese Government should enter into genuine and constructive dialogue with ethnic leaders.

See the report here.

TSYO Contact: Mai Parn La 0 80 84 16 297
Lway Phoo Reang 080 058 0720
Mai Aung Ko 0801184479

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This post is in: Business and Human Rights, Environmental and Economic Justice, Press Release

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