More than 200 villagers from Michaungkan in the eastern suburbs of Rangoon have agreed to close their rally camp after 17 days of protesting against a 1990 land confiscation by the Burmese military.
The villagers finally agreed to end the sit-in for a period of three months following negotiations with the parliamentary Farmland Investigation Commission on Thursday morning.
The villagers, rallying for the seventh time against the alleged land grab by the military had already defied an ultimatum by local authorities to disperse by 9 December, but this morning agreed to stop protesting for a period of three months after the commission pledged to help resolve their case and raise the matter in parliament, said Thein Aung Myint, an activist who has been assisting their rally in Rangoon’s Thingangyun township.
“The Farmland Investigation Commission’s U Aung Thein Linn handed an official letter to the villagers pledging to raise the issue in the upcoming parliament session, and they decided to wait and see the results and only resume the protest if they are still unhappy with the situation it in three months’ time,” said Thein Aung Myint.
Aung Thein Linn, an MP for the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and member of the Farmland Investigation Commission, met with the protestors on Thursday morning when he noted that the land in question had been left unused and thus liable for investigation by the commission.
He said a question concerning the issue was previously raised in parliament and he urged the government to resolve the Michaungkan case.
“We would like to government to find an answer to this issue, otherwise it will be damaging to our country’s image – especially while the SEA Games are being held,” said Aung Thein Linn.
“These are not the kind of issues that can be kept hidden; the whole world can see the protests happening. We would like the government to attend to the issue, the same way the parliament has, and make a consideration based on a public-focused strategy.”
The protestors claim they have all the legal documents to prove their original ownership of the land and reiterated their threat to re-launch the protest if they are unsatisfied with the result.
The rally camp last Saturday came under attack by men in black vests wearing military badges that left several of the protesters injured.