News / Asia

Burma Legal Advisers Help Land Grab Victims

Burma Legal Advisers Help Land Grab Victims Get Compensatedi
X
July 26, 2013 1:04 PM
Burma’s political and economic opening has enticed scores of foreign investors and spurred a real estate boom. But many Burmese feel they are not getting a fair deal when big business buys up land for development. Now roving legal advisers are traveling the countryside, advising citizens on how to assert their rights.
VOA News
Burma’s political and economic opening has enticed scores of foreign investors and spurred a real estate boom. But many Burmese feel they are not getting a fair deal when big business buys up land for development. Now roving legal advisers are traveling the countryside, advising citizens on how to assert their rights.

Land values are soaring in parts of Burma, even in ethnic states, where fighting has left thousands homeless. The government hopes foreign investment will lift the fortunes of millions, but many feel they are already being left out of the profits.

Few people have legal land deeds and the former military-backed government confiscated huge tracts of land years ago. For many people, the sale of property they are living on will not mean a big payday.

Veteran pro-democracy activist and lawyer Aung Htoo says there is one main issue – ownership.

“The problem is that the state is the sole owner of all land in our country. It’s [a] constitutionally provided provision as far as land issues are concerned,” he said.

Htoo trains fellow lawyers and activists to help people fight for compensation. It is an uphill battle.

 “Our training is aimed to provide education to the important activists and some lawyers and law graduates so that they have more awareness on the constitution. So that they may be able to become trainers to provide multiple training to the rest of the people,” explained Aung Htoo.

Recent land reforms now allow farmers and land owners to be given compensation - even if the state still holds the deed. But as land disputes erupt across Burma, some worry the problem could grow along with foreign investments.

Paul Donowitz is with Earth Rights International, a group monitoring land issues in Burma.

“When farmers are using the land to sustain themselves their communities are forced to sell their land where they don’t want to move. There isn’t any other land but the government or a company is basically forcing them off their land. It's forced compensation and they are being told in a number of circumstances, either you take it or leave it,” said Donowitz.

But Aung Htoo hopes his students find a third option: to press their case in the courts or through public opinion. He says the ultimate goal is to change the constitution.

“If the government has a sincere objective to bring development for the entire people, they must try to amend not only the constitution but also other relevant laws so that the people shall enjoy the right to own the land and the right to manage the land,” said Aung Htoo.

In the meantime, Aung Htoo’s classrooms will be a place where citizens learn about the current laws, so they can become more successful at pressing authorities to change them.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid