LIFT’s Response to Open Letter of LIOH and MATA

LIFT’s response to Open Letter of LIOH and MATA

Land in Our Hands (LIOH) and Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability (MATA) jointly send the open letter to LIFT regarding its recently launched call for proposal “REAL DEV Programme”; in 24 December 2018. LIFT responded to the open letter that it has added safeguards in the development of the project:

  1. Stop-go mechanism: A key element in ensuring that there is progress towards securing land title to beneficiaries, is the inclusion of a ‘stop go’ point in the design of the project. Without an open, transparent and participatory process that leads to secure land tenure, the agriculture development component of the project will not be implement.
  2. There are clear principles outlined in the documentation associated with the call that will guide the process of land reallocation that include an inclusive, participatory and transparent approach that is in line with LIFT’s principle of do no harm. Further, noting the contentious nature of land, the project will develop a dispute mechanism to support those who may have a rightful claim or grievance to voice.
  3. A Conflict sensitive advisor: LIFT is in the process of retaining the services of a conflict sensitive advisor to support its programming.
  4. A call for proposals for Support to Strengthen Conflict-sensitivity: LIFT and Access to Health, both multi-donor funds, have published a call for proposals for technical assistance focused on three key areas: 1) Promoting conflict sensitivity capacity across the funds; 2) Providing best tailored assistance to implementing partners (IPs); and 3) Adherence with NCA and Bilateral Ceasefire Agreements.

In response to the concerns of LIOH and MATA, LIFT has decided on the following additional steps.

  1. An independent monitoring mechanism: we plan to elaborate and request for assistance with such an accountability mechanism for the land projects. This will be actioned as soon as possible.
  2. Critical friends: a small group of specialists working on conflict issues and with particular expertise on the peace process with whom LIFT, as a fund, can consult.
  3. Conflict sensitive advisory group: we anticipate these to be either groups or regular meetings in order to appropriately convene and consult with stakeholders in ethnic states concerning LIFT programming in conflict affected areas.

Read the full LIFT’s response in English and Burmese.

Mon Communities’ Statement on VFVL

New Mon State Party and Mon peoples released a statement after land law review workshop happened during 25-26 December, 2018. The statement highlights the VFVL undermines Mon customary land tenure practices; is not aligned with human rights norms, democracy norms & federal norms; is not supporting current peace process; and thus to be abolished.

Mon Statement on VFV (1)
Mon Statement on VFV (2)

Civil Society Organizations’ Open Letter to LIFT for its call for proposal “REAL DEV”

Land in Our Hands (LIOH) and Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability (MATA) jointly send the open letter to LIFT regarding its recently launched call for proposal “REAL DEV Programme”; today in 24 December 2018.

24 December 2018

Land in Our Hands (LIOH) and Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability (MATA) jointly send the open letter to LIFT regarding its recently launched call for proposal “REAL DEV Programme”; today in 24 December 2018.

On 14 December 2018, LIFT (Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund) has launched a REAL DEV programme that invites partner agencies to work with the Government on land reclamation and reallocation in Magway, to develop a replicable approach and framework for reallocating State land reclaimed from concessionary holders to the rural poor, landless, and others; according to its website and facebook page.

Since the government adopted the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law (VFV law) in 2012, peoples from ethnic areas declared that they don’t have vacant, fallow & virgin land but the ancestral lands they have been living, using & managing for centuries. And many civil society organizations asked the government to abolish the VFV law. Although NLD government initiated to amend this law in 2017, it becomes worse – criminalizing the peoples defending their lands and setting the time for registering the lands. Land in Our Hands is continuously supporting for federal land government and customary practices; thus calling to abolish the VFV law. During May, LIOH released a statement at national level reckoning the voices from different states & regions. That workshop and statement is representing over 1,600 peoples and over 400 civil society organizations across the country.

Despite these continuous public oppositions, the Government adopted the amendments to VFV in September 2018. Thus, LIOH launched the campaign against VFV law and also released a joint statement. The statement is endorsed by 346 local organizations. The international community is also supporting the movement of LIOH and issued the concern letter recently.

At this fragile moment, LIFT called proposals for its programme above-mentioned. Although LIFT says “LIFT’s programme is relevant and responsible – perhaps even more so at this time than before”, it is lacking the political sensitivity around land rights and peace building process as wider impacts. In this regards, LIOH & MATA prepared and sent an open letter to LIFT calling to suspend the call for proposals and reassess its operations in Myanmar in accordance with its 12 conflict sensitivity principles.

Open letter to LIFT: (English) (Burmese)

International Community Issued Statement of Concern on VFV

In December 2018, international community issued the statement of concern to express solidarity with grassroots campaign against VFV in Myanmar and called for petition.

Please visit the official petition site or see the letter here.

KNU (HQ) Statement on VFVL

Statement of KNU’s Position regarding Land laws of the Myanmar Government

The Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has ratified and signed the amendment of The Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law, passed by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No (24) on 11 September 2018. Other laws regarding land have also been discussed on that day. Regarding the laws mentioned above, the central land committee of the Karen National Union states its positions and concerns as follows:

  1. The Karen National Union has been managing and administering land at the Central, District and Township Levels according to the policy that was formulated and implemented in line with international standards of land, forest, social and human rights norms. The Karen National Union policy also reflects democratic and federal standards, protection of the lands of indigenous people and their rights. Moreover, the positions and concerns of the general Karen People regarding lands was collected and well-documented as a result of national political dialogue. Thus, all those positions and concerns must be included in political discussions and negotiations.
  2. The recent amendment of the “The Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law” merely concentrates on the centralist systems that has been formulated by the governments of the Myanmar from time to time. It shows no concerns to the rights of indigenous people or human rights norms, and it does not reflect the democratic and federal principles. Moreover, it contains huge contradictions to the positions and concerns of the Karen People as a whole and to the land policy of Karen National Union. It discourages peace building, trust building and the formation of the future Federal Union.
  3. The amendment of the “The Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law” is violating the agreements and contracts between Karen National Union and Government as follows: articles 9, 10, and 11 of the preliminary ceasefire agreements between the Government and the Karen National Union on 6 April 2012. Moreover, it violates the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), which was signed by Government, Tatmadaw and Ethnic Armed Organizations, especially article 9 of Chapter Three on the Protection of Civilians and article 25(a-1) of Chapter Six.
  4. We call for the elimination of the “The Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law” that can produce disputes and conflicts. We encourage the review, amendment, elimination, and rewrite of other land laws that do not comply with the principles of democracy and federal standards. The enactment of controversial land laws could contradict the formation of the Democratic and Federal Union in accordance with the NCA. Thus, we encourage the legislative bodies to enact the law reflecting the NCA that encourages the formation of the Democratic and Federal Union.

In attempting the sustainable peace process in line with the political goals, for the well-being of the whole Karen population, the Karen National Union issues this statement on behalf of the Karen People whose interests suffered and were damaged. The Karen National Union will firmly stand and implement the policy and governance structure to comply with the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.


  • P’doh Mahn Ba Htoon (+66 (0) 61 345 0533)
  • P’doh Saw Nay Thablay (+66 (0) 86 911 0413)
  • Saw Thoo Kapee (+66 (0) 06 765 6615)

Download the Statement

Civil Societies’ statement on VFV law is now available in 6 languages

In response to the recently adopted the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management law  (VFV law) – despite the continuous public opposition, the civil society organizations in Myanmar released a joint statement as part of larger public campaign. The statement called to abolish the VFV law, to respect customary land management practices and to ensure the process of law making for federal land law with full & meaningful participation. The statement was endorsed by 346 local organizations (within 2 day).

The Statement is now available in 6 languages:

Soon after the statement was released on 16 November 2018, the United Nationalities Alliance (ethnic political party) & its sister organizations, the Karen National Union (Taungngu District), internally displaced persons from Kachin & Northern Shan State, Karenni Land Forum and Kayan Organizations have issued similar statements.

90 Days to go (Say “NO” to VFV)

. . . countless number of innocent citizens and ethnic nationals . . . could be prosecuted & humiliated with lawsuits . . .

11 December 2018

LIOH campaign for land, peace and democracy moves into high gear after government adoption of the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law that imposes countless number of farmers, ethnic peoples & IDPs to become landless and criminals.

On 11 November 2018, LIOH has launched a countdown campaign on social media; alerting that countless number of innocent citizens and ethnic nationals who are making a living on more than 45 million acres of land could be prosecuted & humiliated with lawsuits because of the unjust “Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law (VFV Law)”.  Today, the campaign is already one-month-duration and only 90 days remain to reach deadline.

LIOH launched this campaign together with its strategic alliance MATA (Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability). The call of this campaign is –

  • Abolishing the VFV Law
  • Respecting the customary land management practices those are practicing within ethnic communities
  • The process of making new federal land law with full and meaningful participation & inclusion of local ethnic peoples from different areas

Statement on VFV law and related announcement

Statement available in these languages: Burmese, English, Thai, Chinese, French & Spanish

Civil Society Organizations’ Statement on the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management 2018 and related announcement

16 November 2018

Despite continuing & serious public opposition to the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Law and the amendments, it was passed on 11 September 2018. A short time later on 30 September 2018 the Vacant, Fallow & Virgin Land Management Central Committee issued a letter notifying the public that the persons and organizations currently using the vacant, fallow & virgin land without permission from the Central Committee must register the land.

Section 22(b) of the law requires users to register the land in accordance with specifications within 6 months after the enactment of the law. Moreover, according to section 27(a), anyone using the vacant, fallow & virgin land without permission of central committee shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or with fine not exceeding Kyat five lakhs or with both; as they violate the section 22(b-iii).

Our standpoint on the newly amended law and related announcement is the following:

Continue reading “Statement on VFV law and related announcement”