Toungoo Interview: Saw Q---, November 2017

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Toungoo Interview: Saw Q---, November 2017

Published date:
Thursday, August 30, 2018

This Interview with Saw Q--- describes events occurring in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District, between 2012 and 2017, including information on land confiscations, stone mining, land confiscation, dam construction, displacement and village agency strategies.

  • Since 2000, land confiscations are on the rise because of corporate development projects.
  • Local civilians have become internally displaced due to land confiscations and the flooding in the aftermath of hydropower dam construction.
  • Rural communities have used many strategies to protect their land from confiscation. These include fencing their land, protesting on the street, and submitting complaint letters to both the Karen National Union and Myanmar government authorities. However, as of today, these efforts have been unsuccessful and risky.  Villagers who have led these activities have been sued by private companies and Myanmar government authorities. 

Footnotes

[1] KHRG trains community members in southeastern Burma/Myanmar to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in southeastern Burma/Myanmar, KHRG aims to make all field information received available on the KHRG website once it has been processed and translated, subject only to security considerations. For additional reports categorised by Type, Issue, Location and Year, please see the Related Readings component following each report on KHRG’s website. 

[3] Kaung Myanmar Aung Company (KMAC) or Kaung Myanmar Aung Group of Companies is a Myanmar-owned business group with investments in teak plantations in Toungoo District, and mining, agriculture, shipping, construction and real estate development within Myanmar. Their chairman is Mr Khin Maung Aye. KMAC have been implicated in land confiscation cases in southeast Myanmar which have included intimidation and threats to villagers who were customary owners of the lands, and launching legal cases against villagers accused of trespassing on the confiscated land. See “Chapter 6: Development, “Foundation of Fear: 25 years of villagers’ voices from southeast Myanmar,” October 2017, KHRG. For an interview with a KMAC day labourer, see “Toungoo Interview: U A---, 2017,” November 2017, KHRG, and for a villager sued of trespassing, “Toungoo Interview: Htantabin Township, November 2015,” June 2017, KHRG.

[4] Asia World is a Burma/Myanmar company with significant investments in the shipping industry, infrastructure, and plantations in Myanmar. It is known within Burma/Myanmar as Shwe Swan In. Asia World and its additional companies owned by Myanmar national Stephen Law were added to the US Sanctions list in July 2016 due to their historic and continued links to the Burma/Myanmar military regime, see “US extends sanctions, further targets Asia World,” Myanmar Times, May 17th 2016. KHRG analysed the impact of Asia World and other private company’s roles in development in Chapter 6: Development, “Foundation of Fear: 25 years of villagers’ voices from southeast Myanmar,” October 2017, KHRG. In KHRG’s operation area of Toungoo District, Asia World constructed a hydroelectric dam resulting in damage to villagers’ land and the relocation of villagers, see “Toungoo Interview: Saw H---, April 2011,” KHRG, September 2012 and continue to develop on land traditionally used by villagers, see “Toungoo Field Report: Slow transitions towards real change, January to December 2015,” January 2017, KHRG. Additionally, in Mergui-Tavoy District, Asia World confiscated villagers’ land for plantations, see “Mergui-Tavoy Situation Update: Ler Muh Lah and Ta Naw Tree Townships, January to June 2015,” KHRG, October 2015.

[5] For more information on the impact and construction of the Toh Boh dam, see “Toungoo Interview: Saw H---, April 2011,”KHRG, September 2012; see also “Photo Set: More than 100 households displaced from Toh Boh Dam construction site in Toungoo,” KHRG, August 2012. Many villages remain displaced years later, see the Toh Boh dam case study on page 196 of "Foundation of Fear: 25 years of villagers’ voices from southeast Myanmar,” October 2017, KHRG.

[6] Asia World is a Burma/Myanmar company with significant investments in the shipping industry, infrastructure, and plantations in Myanmar. It is known within Burma/Myanmar as Shwe Swan In. Asia World and its additional companies owned by Myanmar national Stephen Law were added to the US Sanctions list in July 2016 due to their historic and continued links to the Burma/Myanmar military regime, see “US extends sanctions, further targets Asia World,” Myanmar Times, May 17th 2016. KHRG analysed the impact of Asia World and other private company’s roles in development in Chapter 6: Development, “Foundation of Fear: 25 years of villagers’ voices from southeast Myanmar,” October 2017, KHRG. In KHRG’s operation area of Toungoo District, Asia World constructed a hydroelectric dam resulting in damage to villagers’ land and the relocation of villagers, see “Toungoo Interview: Saw H---, April 2011,” KHRG, September 2012 and continue to develop on land traditionally used by villagers, see “Toungoo Field Report: Slow transitions towards real change, January to December 2015,” January 2017, KHRG. Additionally, in Mergui-Tavoy District, Asia World confiscated villagers’ land for plantations, see “Mergui-Tavoy Situation Update: Ler Muh Lah and Ta Naw Tree Townships, January to June 2015,” KHRG, October 2015.

[7] Asia World and Shwe Swan Inn refer to the same company.

[8] Land form #7 is the land grant required to work on a particular area of land. In Burma/Myanmar, all land is ultimately owned by the government.

[9] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the February 21st 2018 official market rate of 1,319 kyats to US $1.