Toungoo Interview: Saw Q---, December 2017

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Toungoo Interview: Saw Q---, December 2017

Published date:
Thursday, August 30, 2018

This Interview with Saw Q--- describes events occurring in Thandaunggyi Township, Toungoo District including a case of land confiscation by the Kaung Myanmar Aung Company.

  • In 2009, the Kaung Myanmar Aung Company (KMAC) confiscated around 5,000 acres of local villagers’ lands. Although some villagers were forced to take unfair compensation, others were not paid. Most of the local population want to get back their lands rather than receive monetary compensation.  
  • In response, affected villagers fenced their lands and organised demonstrations on three occasions. They also wrote complaint letters to the Burma/Myanmar government. The local community tried many different ways of getting the attention of the authorities, to no avail.
  • The KMAC responded by suing villagers who confronted for their ancestral lands. 10 villagers in Aa--- village, Bb---village, Fj--- and Fk--- village were sued. Currently, villagers are still facing a lawsuit at the Bago Division court. 

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.

[5] The perpetrator of this abuse may have been claiming authority under one of the Burma/Myanmar government laws that allows rights to land to be transferred from villagers to private entities. The Wasteland Instructions Law (1991) enabled both domestic and foreign investment in large-scale commercial enterprises through transfer of use rights to designated "wasteland" (or "vacant, fallow and virgin land"). This practice was recently reaffirmed by the Vacant, Fallow, Virgin Land Law (2012). As development has increased in southeast Burma/Myanmar since the signing of the government-KNU ceasefire in January 2012, KHRG received an increasing number of complaints of confiscation of "uncultivated land" or "wasteland." For KHRG documentation of land confiscation arising from development projects, see “‘With only our voices, what can we do?’: Land confiscation and local response in southeast Myanmar,” KHRG, June 2015, as well as,  “Losing Ground: Land conflicts and collective action in eastern Myanmar,” KHRG, March 2013. For summary and analysis of the legal and policy framework relating to land management in Burma/Myanmar, see: Legal Review of Recently Enacted Farmland Law and Vacant Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law, Food Security Group - Land Core Group, November 2012. 

[6] 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.