New Myanmar government tackling land-grab issue

Published on 3 Aug 2016 5:32:10 PM

Villagers in this township outside Yangon in Myanmar meet to discuss a common problem - illegal land-grabs.
For years the military junta has been seizing land from farmers and giving it to companies it was close to.
Current government officials say there are hundreds of thousands of cases involving up to five million acres forcibly taken by the government.
Than Shin is one of the victims. Sixteen years ago, the military siezed her 20 acres of farmland her family used to grow rice.
We just want our land back, she said. I don't want to take compensation because we've been working on this land for many years.
Her luck may be changing.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party has set up a taskforce to help residents get their land back with the help of legal advice NGOs like Namati.
"The process is extremely complex and convoluted. Thankfully at the very end of the last parliament, they passed the new national land use policy and the new government that comes in, Aung San Suu Kyi's government, should be simplifying procedures and making it much easier. But it's still an enormous effort and without quite a lot of outside support it's very hard for villagers who aren't legally literate to get their land back."
The owner of one company says he's willing to return the 4000 acres of land given to him by the military only if villagers can provide proper legal documentation.
He says that as a taxpayer of this country, we should follow the rule of law, right? We have to follow the rules of law.
Untangling the land disputes will be a headache.
The new government will still have to contend with powerful business interests, many linked to the military.