My Land is Not My Land

Bo Thet Hun

Bo Thet Htun is cameraman and photographer from Magway region. His essay is about land grabbing in a village near his home.

Unlawful seizure of land remains extremely common in Myanmar, despite recent legal reforms. Villagers still report that local land offices are inaccessible, that official refuse to register land, or fail to uphold rights against moneyed interests.

Bo’s story is about U Tin Pyone and his wife Daw Mya, small landowners, whose land was confiscated in 2000 by the Ministry of Health in order to build a hospital and medical campus. Most of the land is still unused, but U Tin Pyone now has to rent the land from the government to farm it. In 2015, when he could no longer afford the rent, the Ministry simply fenced off the rest of his land. When he complained to local authorities, he says he was intimidated by the police and threatened with arrest.

For Bo the story is important, because “the majority – still around 70-80% of all Burmese are farmers today.” And in this generation – U Tin Pyone is in his sixties – “it is still common to accept things the way they are.” Bo wants to change that.

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