"Holding Our Ground" Land Confiscation in Arakan & Mon States, and Pa-O Area of Southern Shan State

Expanding Militarisation in Burma Robbing People of their Land

Embargoed for April 21, 2009

Burma’s military junta’s policy of land confiscation and human rights abuse to support ever increasing army numbers has been documented in a new report by three grassroots Burmese political organisations: All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress, Mon Youth Progressive Organization and Pa-O Youth Organization, called “Holding Our Ground”.

Primary research and first-hand testimony from numerous victims included in the report exposes the violations and abuse they have suffered at the hands of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Burma’s ruling military regime.

The SPDC’s ongoing dual policy of increasing militarisation and forced land confiscation without compensation causes widespread problems throughout Burma. However, this report focuses on three areas – Arakan State, Mon State and the Pa-O region of southern Shan State. This is because the treatment received by the people in these areas has attracted only limited media attention in the past.

“The abundance of natural resources and biodiversity, together with the presence of rebel groups, have seen these three areas suffer a high level of land confiscation as part of the SPDC’s policy of increased militarization and the exploitation of natural resources for profit” said Aung Marm Oo, the chief author of the report.

By robbing people of the land from which many make their living, many citizens face drastic problems such as food and water shortages, an inability to educate their children or find work.

“The main reason for land confiscation is the need to feed and financially support increasing troop numbers” he added.

One of the further reasons for land confiscation is government construction and development projects. These projects often use forced labour and have disastrous environmental effects in many areas. All of which has lead to people having severe health problems throughout the country. Consequently, tens of thousands of people are fleeing Burma in search of a better life.

“The army is based there not for waging war but for guarding foreign companies involved in oil and gas exploration in Arakan coastal areas”, a villager from a village in Kyauk-phru township said.

For further information contact any of the following:

Aung Marm Oo (AASYC)
081-6736326 (mobile)
055 506 618 (off)

Aie Son (MYPO)
08-37618086 (mobile)
034 595 614 (off)

Tun Tin (PYO)
08-52884211 (mobile)
055 533 115 (off)

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