Kayin farmers criminalised for fighting land grabs: HRW report

Kayin State villagers are losing their land and are routinely persecuted through threats, arson and arbitrary arrest if they attempt to fight the unlawful seizures, according to a report released by an international rights group on November 3. Around 70 percent of the people in Kayin State rely on land for their livelihood, but are under threat from weak laws, poor enforcement and corrupt local officials. Exploiting the regulatory void, militias, investors and government officials grab the land and edge the villagers out, according to a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Losing their land is losing everything,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW, said during the report’s launch in Yangon on November 3. Left with little recourse, the farmers are often pushed into neighbouring Thailand for their economic survival. Those who do stay and attempt to fight the land grabs face further abuse and retributive action.

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