This is our land! Villagers pay the price of land confiscation

The lives of Ta’ang people in Northern Shan state have been shattered as the Burmese government working hand-in-hand with companies has confiscated their land. The Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO) report that approximately 42,940 acres of land has been confiscated and estimate that over 8,588 families have been affected. The report carried out in Northern Shan State in 10 townships – Namshan, Mantong, Namkhanm, Muse, Lashio, Kyaukme, Hsipaw, Thein Ni, Kutkai and Namtu.

The villagers’ confiscated land has been taken and used for housing and training facilities for the military or to generate additional income for the troops. Land ahs also been taken for the development projects in
Ta’ang area, such as the three Shweli Hydropower Dams, the Shwe gas and oil pipelines and the China-Myanmar Railway project.

The Ta’ang people have not received any compensation for their land confiscated by the army. Ta’ang people depend largely on farming to ensure their livelihoods. The lost of their land mean they now have no income for their families. Parents are unable to pay to keep their children in school and the children are forced to drop out to help the family. Many of these children have not reached high school level. Numbers of young people are also migrating to the China Burma border to look for work.

A young Ta’ang said.

“Most people who leave our village have gone to the Kachin mining areas or to China. Today our village is mostly made up of old people and young children, there is no work to be found in the village and people are force to move away. This takes away from our traditional lives and jeopardizes our culture, our values and our family units.”

Mai Parn La, from the Ta’ang Student and Youth Organization said the loss of land has a devastating impact – it increases migration, homelessness and more people are now internally displaced.

“The villagers fear to speak out, as they will be arrested if they complain to the authorities.”

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