Farmers in central Myanmar have entered the seventh day of a protest over continued land grabs in the country.
Some 300 farmers gathered at the foot of a hill in Mandalay city on Wednesday to demand a stop to the confiscation of their lands and prosecution of farmers.
Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi came to power in 2015 on the back of promises for revising the decades-long land grabs by the former junta government. Many villagers have lost their lands over the past five decades and they have no document to prove their ownership. The issue remains contentious as many farmers still face legal prosecution in courts.
During the protest on Wednesday, farmers chanted slogans and waved signs near a makeshift camp where they have been living for the past seven days.
“We know it’s hard for the government to solve all the land problems which festered for years when the junta was in power. But now, even more farmers are facing lawsuits under the new government,” said Mg Soe, a protest leader, adding, “We chose the new government but they don’t do anything to defend the farmers.”
Farmers chant slogans during a protest in Mandalay, central Myanmar, July 12, 2017. (AFP photo)
Ko Lin, the chair of the Mandalay regional farmers association, said the regional government had done almost nothing to stop the increasing number of lawsuits being filed against the farmers in courts.
“Currently over 400 farmers in the region are being sued,” said Lin, calling on authorities to make the issue a priority.
Thousands of villagers and small-holder farmers were displaced between the 1990s and early 2000s when the military commanders and their associates rampantly confiscated lands where farmers had been working for generations. Officials from the former junta governments, who still hold a huge sway in Suu Kyi’s administration, deny the allegations.