IDPs Worried Land Will be Grabbed Under New Law
‘I feel that IDPs are being abused again because of this new land management law,’ said one displaced man from Kachin State.
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Saturday, December 1, 2018
Internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kachin and northern Shan states are concerned that they will lose the rights to their land under the Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land Management Act of 2018.
The government announced that people who are using land according to customary sources of ownership must register under the land management act within six months, leading IDPs to respond with a statement released on Tuesday.
“We became IDPs because of battles resuming in 2011. We cannot live in our area. Chinese banana plantations have entered some of our areas. Other agribusiness companies are also coming into our areas,” Kachin IDP Tu Nan said. “Under this situation, we are so worried about our land because those companies are going to register with the new land law to claim our abandoned land. If they do this, there will be no place for IDPs to go home to. That is why we are so worried about it.”
IDPs emphasize that even though they are not living on their land, the areas are not free, vacant, or uncultivated, as the land management law might suggest.
“We had to leave our land. The Burma Army is stationed in our village. They set up military camps in our area,” said Lashi Khon, who is now displaced in northern Shan State. “We are now living in an IDP camp. The new land management law has been announced but we cannot go to register our land under this new land law because we are in an IDP camp. I am so worried for my land,” she explained.
On October 30, the government announced the new land management law, which was objected to by displaced communities, who asked that it be withdrawn, citing continued instability in their areas and an inability to register.
“We only have this land. Our hope is that we will go back to our village after peace is restored. We want to go back home,” Tu Nan said. “We can lose our land because of this new land management law. We have already faced human rights abuses. I feel that IDPs are being abused again because of this new land management law.”
IDPs have demanded that the government protect their land.
The Union Parliament approved Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land Management Act of 2018 on September 10, 2018. According to the law, people, who use free, vacant or uncultivated land, must register under this new land law within six months.