San Lat / March 23, 2020
A political party headquarter in Myitkyina, Kachin State called Kachin National Congress (KNC) has vowed to help land registration for farmland owners across the country and strive to amend the controversial Vacant, Fellow and Virgin (VFV) Land Management Law.
KNC will lead to register the farmlands, most of them are being risk of losing the from the original owners, if the party win in coming 2020 election, said the party’s media representative N’jai Naw Ja. The Burmese government is not doing anything for local farmers to help register their own land according to the new VFV land law, instead the government, military and private companies seize the farmlands across the country, he added.
According to the government’s estimated data, over 20 million hectors or 30 percent of the country’s landscape is entitled to lose its original ownership. Three quarters of the VFV category land belongs to the country’s ethnic minorities. The VFV Land Management Law, which introduced in 2018, automatically criminalize millions of farmers who do not have permits or proper legal documents. The new land law requires anyone who lives on the land to apply for a new permit for continued use of 30 years.
KNC also plans to setup a watchdog to ensure helping farmers to register properly according to new land law, even if the party won in some constituencies, Naw Ja said. KNC released the party platform early of this month, focusing mainly on land registration and intention to abolish the VFV.
In Kachin State alone, an estimated 400,000 acres of farmland was seized by the Yuzana Company for cassava and sugar cane plantation in Hukawng Valley, and over 200,000 acres of land from Waimaw Township was confiscated by the private companies most of them joint-ventured with Chinese companies.
Lagyi Lum Hkawng, a farmer from Waimaw Township who already lost 20 acres of land, said that thousand acres of local own lands were seized because of VFV law. When I presented my land ownership certificate the authorities told me it’s fake, he continued, “If people don’t have any certificate, they sold it to companies.”
The VFV Land Management Law is adopted from British colonial policy in which the land occupied by the indigenous people was labelled as a “wasteland” in order to justify confiscating it on the purpose of generating revenue from the land.