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Michaungkan land grab protestors were evicted by police from their rally camp in front of Rangoon City Hall in the early hours of Thursday morning. It is the second time the sit-in has been forcibly broken up by police after a similar incident in December.
DVB has learnt that 14 of the protestors and four street vendors were arrested by police in the raid.
The municipal authorities of Yangon City Development Committee were unavailable for comment.
Last week, fourteen activists from Michaungkan, which is a suburb east of Rangoon, were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment each for leading the sit-in at the gates of City Hall.
The sit-in rally was one of a number of protests that have been held by the activists decrying a historic land grab that took place in 1990. Protestors say they were evicted from their homes in the suburban township of Rangoon when the Burmese military seized their land.
Before moving to the City Hall site, dozens of former Michaungkan landowners had established a camp in 2014 that occupied Maha Bandula Park in central Rangoon for seven months.
In August, a 72-year-old protestor died at the encampment after 138 days at the park. After the woman passed away her fellow activists reiterated that nothing would make them accept the loss of their land, even death.
During Burma’s military era, land was routinely confiscated by the government for state use. But ever since Burma transitioned to a quasi-civilian government in 2011 protests have become increasingly common as villagers attempt to reclaim their assets.
New land legislation introduced in early 2012 was met with major criticism. In particular, critics have argued that the new laws legitimise government and corporate land-grabs while offering little protection to individuals. A government commission established in 2012 to resolve thousands of land-grab claims has yet to make progress on the majority of claims it has received.