Burma’s Union Parliament on Thursday urged the government to expedite procedures which will allow confiscated farmland to be returned to its original owners across the country.
In a message to President Thein Sein, parliamentary speaker Thura Shwe Mann urged the government to return land – specifically land left unused after being confiscated – to its rightful owners, as recommended previously in a report by the parliament-backed Land Investigation Commission.
“The parliament believes and expects the concerned parties to return land and farmland … out of goodwill and sympathy towards farmers and civilians living in poverty and without much awareness,” said Shwe Mann at the parliamentary session on Thursday.
Ye Htun, a lower house representative, said that parliament was sending a reminder to the president as there had been no tangible progress in implementing the recommendations of the commission’s report.
“Parliament has conducted surveys … indicating that many of the companies that confiscated lands are now beginning to put fences around the areas previously left unused. This is leading to even more disputes with farmers,” said Ye Htun.
The 1963 Land Acquisition Act nationalised land ownership in Burma, and the military and its business cronies spent decades confiscating land from farmers to build economic projects, industrial zones and army bases.
However, the issue of land seizures has come increasing under scrutiny since the new government took power in 2011 with farmers staging protests against the practice across the country and several MPs raising the issue in parliament.