August 14, 2014
Police in the Mandalay region of Burma shot farmers who were protesting their land having been grabbed by the military. The protest, which took place this morning (14th August 2014) involved the farmers ploughing the fields that had been taken from them.
The farmers are from Nyaung Wine Village, Singu Township, Mandalay Region. Over 6,000 acres of their lands were confiscated in 1991 by the 121 Logistic Battalion. As usual in such cases of land grabbing, the farmers were not provided any compensation as per law.
This morning, when the farmers, numbering around 200, gathered for the protest against the military’s land grabbing, nearly 50 police personnel with weapons and shields arrived on the spot and shot at the farmers.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that one of the victims of the shootings is Ma San Kyin Nu, a 30-year-old mother of two. She has been shot. As per the information received by activists on the ground, Ma San Kyin Nu has been admitted to Mandalay General Hospital for urgent medical treatment.
As a result of the police brutality, the protesting farmers disallowed the police from making any arrests. However, later, another 100 police personnel arrived and blockaded the entire village.
Across Burma, farmers are facing such vexing problems, where their land, their source of sustenance and community, has been taken forcibly taken from them by the military or relatives of senior milliard officials. And, the farmers’ attempts to cultivate this land, which they know belongs to them, is being met with brutal crackdown, by the military battalions, the courts, and now even police shootings.
Recently, the AHRC received information about farmers from Kanbalu Township who are being sentenced to prison terms for “trespassing” on their own land (AHRC-UAU-025-2014). The AHRC has also documented other incidents of farmer’s land being grabbed by the military and by private corporations (AHRC-STM-143-2014). These cases establish a clear pattern of the military abusing its power and an absence of any system of redress. Furthermore, it is clear that the Burmese government has failed to provide any legal framework, protection, or remedy to the hapless rural population of the nation.
This pattern of land grabbing and violent followup to the original crime, without any possibility of legal recourse for the victim farmers, and this most recent shooting, indicates that there is not even a vestige of the rule of law in Burma.
The AHRC condemns the violence displayed by the police to intimidate the citizens, and insists that the government sets the farmers free immediately. The AHRC urges the government of Burma to solve these land problems in a peaceful way and uphold the farmers rights to their land. Burma must make these changes if it would like to make a claim of being a democratic and free nation.