Myanmar's new land law amendment has its roots in a British colonial notion of “wasteland” that consciously undermines customary land claims of highland communities to the benefit of foreign investors and tax collectors.
Under a land reformation act, millions of farmers across Myanmar could be forced from land they have tilled for generations. In an open letter, a national grassroots coalition, called for the government to "abolish" the law and "enact a federal law that safeguards people's integrity, their lives and livelihoods."
As refugees began to trickle back, many found their land had been taken for parks, military use or leased to palm oil concessions and rubber plantations. From 2011 to 2016, about 1.9 million acres of land across Myanmar were allocated for agricultural concessions including rubber and palm oil.
The new land management law in Myanmar known as Vacant, Fallow and Virgin land management law designates 1/3 of total arable land for large-scale agribusiness that could make countless landless and imprisonment up to 2 years of trespassing their own land.
The process of primitive accumulation provides a lens to understand the current process of land grabbing in Myanmar's Rakhine State - how vast swathes of farmland, the coastal belts, and oil and offshore gas reserves are being captured.
After three years of intensive research, Namati have launched Midcourse Manoeuvers: Community Strategies and Remedies for Natural Resource Conflicts in India, Indonesia, and Myanmar, a groundbreaking resource for frontline practitioners working with communities affected by land use change.