GSCN marched in Yangon

11 February 2021

လူမျိုးပေါင်းစုံအထွေထွေသပိတ်ကော်မတီ၏ တပ်မတော်အာဏာသိမ်းခြင်းအား ကန့်ကွက်ကြောင်းနဲ့ ဖက်ဒရယ်ပြည်ထောင်စုကြီး တည်ဆောက်ရေးတို့အတွက် တိုင်ရင်းသားလူမျိုး (၁၈) မျိုးမှ လူငယ်များ၊ ကျောင်းသားများ၊ နိုင်ငံရေးတက်ကြွလှုပ်ရှားသူများပါဝင်ကာ လူအင်အား ၅,၀၀၀ ကျော်မှ ဆန္ဒထုတ်ဖော်ခဲ့ကြပါသည်။

The General Strike Committee of Nationalities (GSCN) marched in Yangon as condemnation of the military’s coup d’état and calling the actions towards building the federal democratic union. The Committee represents 18 ethnic groups of Myanmar and the march was joined by over 5,000 peoples including students & young activists.

#RejectMilitaryCoup
#Reject_Coup
#Reject_fascism

LIOH Endorses the Proposal for Reforming Defamation Laws

December 2020

LIOH endorses the proposal for reform of Myanmar’s oppressive defamation laws. The proposal is launched by FEM to end years of oppressive, anti-democratic, and scandalous criminal cases under 66(d) and Myanmar’s five other defamation laws. It includes four options: adopting a civil defamation law, adding stronger defenses to the Penal Code, removing all prison sentences, and limiting cases to deliberate and serious defamation only.


See the full proposal on FEM Webpage:
http://freeexpressionmyanmar.org/defamation-reform-proposals/


VFV Campaign Report

“There is no VFV in our area”: Compilation of Different Movements at National Level

March 2020 | Version-2

A Vinyl saying “Chin State doesn’t have VFV” is posted publicly in a village from Chin State. | Photo Credit: CLAN

Origin

The Vacant-Fallow-Virgin Land Management Law originated from the vacant-fallow-virgin land management notification issued in 1991 by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Military government) for the purpose of commoditizing land and to attract investments both for local & international businesses. It is also the notification set-up for facilitating land grabbing.

The government after 2010 general election continued to legitimize the previous land grabbing and human rights violations by transforming that notification into law in 2012. The law come out by direct order of MOALI Minister and without involvement of civil societies and land rights expertise. The Vacant-Fallow-Virgin Land Management Law 2012 (VFVL) meant to ease land grabbing under economic development and to be a tool for expanding land grabbing towards ethnic peoples’ area where armed conflicts are making difficult for confiscation.

Implications of VFV Law

The companies those are willing to invest, according to VFVL, can get the land up to 30,000 acres for 30 years (Section 10). The VFVL can be used to sue the farmers under encroachment (Section 27) and under disturbance (Section 28) which also enables the use of police forces for suppression.

Vacant-fallow-virgin land can be transformed into farmland (Section 34), allowing the land as collateral and commodity for leasing, mortgaging & selling (Farmland Law Section 9). That is challenging and undermining the livelihoods and live making of farmers however favoring the local & foreign business owners.

VFVL & the Farmland Law pressures individual land titling (to apply for land use certificate) that threatens rural agrarian societies where the peoples’ lives, cultural & customary practices, cropping patterns and ecologies are interconnected and inter-dependent. It challenges the presence of communal areas, culturally heritage areas and customary land management systems. And it makes permanent land loss for IDPs.

Amendments to VFV (2018)

VFVL amendments were proposed during 2017 and adopted on 11 September 2018. The amendments criminalize both farmers and people who are helping farmers defending their lands. It even sets the short deadline for individual land titling – anyone using the so-called-VFV land without permission is liable for penalties either fine or imprisonment or both.

So-called VFV land, according to Land Statistics Department, are mostly from ethnic areas and 45 million acres of them (out of 50 million acres) remains unregistered. It’s not practical to grant land titling for such a huge amount of land within short period of time and there are many experiences of farmers who never get reply and traceable for their application status since many years ago. Though, the credibility of the land use certificate (legally granted) is also questionable according to previous researches. Nevertheless, uncountable farmers become criminals by the law since 11 March 2019.

Recommendations

LIOH believes self-determination, federal land governance and the peoples’ rights to land are the only means for peace and social justice. Good management practices are already existed amongst communities and indigenous peoples. Ethnic land policies, customary land tenure systems and community-led & managed projects have been in place – and yet to be recognized. There is a need of federal land law that is processed democratically and safeguards the rights of land of smallholder farmers, small scale land users, ethnic peoples, landless peoples an IDPs. The transition to federal land law needs to freeze the implementation of existing land-related laws; to avoid land intensive mega projects (including agri-businesses); to ensure resolution of land conflicts; and to abolish the most dangerous VFVL.


A group of Chin peoples holding “Chin State doesn’t have VFV. Chin State only has ancestral land” and posing for a photo. | Photo credit: CLAN

Download the full report in English and Burmese.

VFV Campaign Report – March 2020 (Version-2). A5-sized Booklet is available in Bilingual (English/Burmese).

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) joins the international clamor demanding the repeal of the 2012 Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin (VFV) Lands Management Law in Burma

STATEMENT | 12 May 2019

Reference: Sylvia Mallari, PCFS Global Co-chairperson – secretariat@foodsov.org

Repeal the 2012 VFV Law in Burma!

Carry out a genuinely pro-people land reform policy!

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) joins the international clamor demanding the repeal of the 2012 Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin (VFV) Lands Management Law in Burma.

Since its inception, the VFV Land Management Law has been used to facilitate large-scale landgrabs throughout Burma. It denies the Burmese rural peoples, which compose 70% of the county’s population, their customary and communal land rights by declaring all lands without official land titles as “vacant, fallow, and virgin,” in order to herald these lands for use of domestic and foreign investment. This has long been disputed in the country, yet the government of Burma has opted to bolster the law to fast track the turnover of these lands to corporate landlords.

The law was amended in September 2018, requiring land tillers to register for land use permits with 30-year validity within six months. Deadline lapsed on March 11, and now more than 20 million hectares of land – a third of Burma’s total land area – have become subjected to private interests. About 75% of the “VFV” lands are territories of ethnic minorities. And considering that 95% of the VFV land residents surveyed a month before the deadline of registration had no knowledge of the law, majority of the people in these areas are subject to penalties up to 500,000 kyats (US $328) of fine and/or two years in jail for “trespassing” the lands they customarily owned. 

There are, in fact, reports of local authorities filing charges against villagers for violating the VFV Land Management Law, and more are expected to arise with the amendment in implementation. These cases are ongoing despite the confirmation of a member of the ruling party National League for Democracy (NLD) executive committee that the law is yet to be enforced until the bylaws are completed. PCFS condemns the criminalization of occupying the land that the Burmese people have cultivated for decades even prior the law’s existence. The Coalition denounces such harassment that aims the massive displacement of rural communities.

PCFS slams the Aung San Suu Kyi-led Burma government for pushing this law and its impracticable amendments – a far cry from its promise of protecting the land rights of farmers. In fact, the VFV law was made stricter. Four years since NLD broke the country’s military junta, the government has opted to abide with the trends on land policies perpetuated by international and development finance institutions that undermine food sovereignty and deny the land rights of farmers and Indigenous Peoples. No plan to amend the law or even the constitution will be able to resolve landlessness in Burma if the development framework is to “draw more investment.”

We condemn the Aung San Suu Kyi government for implementing the VFV law. We call its attention to carry out a genuinely pro-people land reform policy that can not only alleviate the widespread poverty especially in rural areas, but also address the country’s peace situation. Burma is riddled with armed conflict with ethnic minority groups that seek liberation and self-determination. Given this context and with the VFV Land Management Law in order, the refugees – who are already made vulnerable by the ongoing civil wars – have no more lands to return to.

PCFS is one with the rural peoples of Burma in calling for the repeal of the 2012 VFV Land Management Law. We call our members, networks, and fellow food sovereignty advocates to support the struggle of the rural peoples in Burma in defense of their ancestral lands and natural resources! ###

. . . Download the statement here . . .

PSLF’s Statement on VFVL

Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) / Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) released a statement on the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law (VFVL) on 11th March 2019. The statement is claiming that the peoples living & making lives on the land are the original owner of the land thus no need to use the VFVL; reminding the peoples from Ta’ang area to claim back the lands grabbed previously; promising PSLF/TNLA would uphold land policy that protect the community from losing land and would take actions against those any individual or organization attempting to grab the land from its people.

PPST’s Statement from its Special Meeting 03-2019

The Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement Signatory – Ethnic Armed Organizations (NCA-S EAO) released a statement from its special meeting (03/2019) happened during 5-7 March, 2019. The statement urged to review & amend the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law (VFVL) accordingly as it is opposing democracy norms and federal principles; and to stop enacting similar laws in the future.

Ethnic Literature & Cultural Development Organizations released statement on VFVL

Ethnic literature & cultural development organizations held a workshop reviewing the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law (VFVL) in Lashio of Shan State (Northern Shan). Together with Kachin, Ta-ang & Shan Literature & Culture Development Organizations, 62 participants representing 25 organizations participated in this workshop happened during March 5, 2019. A statement come out from that workshop demanding to cancel the VFVL, to recognize customary tenure practices and to ensure the land restitution for displaced persons by armed conflicts.

SSEYF’s Statement on VFVL

Shan State Ethnic Youth Federation Leading Committee (SSEYF) released statement on the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law (VFVL) on March 5, 2019. The statement has raised 6 demands;

  • To abolish the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law
  • To recognize & respect ethnic customary land management systems & rights
  • To draft the law that guarantee management, decision making, ownership & interest of farmers and local peoples
  • To ensure the land laws making process is democratic & human rights based
  • To remove the charges completely from farmers those are currently facing on trial under VFVL
  • To give the lands back to original owners

CLAN Statement on VFVL

Chin Land Affairs Network (CLAN) released a statement on the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law (VFVL) after its executive members’ meeting and land law review workshop happened during 12-13 of February, 2019.

The statement is available in Burmese and has raised 4 points:

  • Chin people are original owners of all land & related resources thus this status must not be altered without the consent of Chin peoples
  • VFVL makes more conflicts to Chin peoples’ livelihoods, live makings, histories & cultures and is also undermining federal system, thus to be abolished.
  • VFVL facilitates land grabbing from ethnic peoples and specifies the original owner of the land as criminals, thus to stop the land grabbing & large-scale projects under VFV label.
  • Denounce the quote of U Shwe Htee Yo, Minister for Road & Transport, saying there’s no ancestral land in Chin State; because there are only ancestral land handed over generations in Chin State.