The recent political and economic liberalization in Burma/Myanmar, while indicative of some positive steps toward democratization after decades of authoritarian rule, has simultaneously increased foreign and domestic investments and geared the economy toward industrialization and large-scale agriculture. In rural areas, new institutional frameworks governing land, including a new Farmland Law (2012) and Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law (2012) have effectively created a land market through private land-use property rights and a new registration system with new land administration bodies. In a country permeated by legacies of corruption, coercion and military-linked cronies, land governance procedures and implementation tend to favour the more powerful and well-connected, with little protection mechanism for the majority smallholding farmers in the country. The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ), in the southern Thanintharyi division of Myanmar, to be developed trilateraly with Thai, Myanmar and Japanese investment, is set to become one of the largest industrial zones in Southeast Asia, covering an area of approximately 200km2. The project plan includes a deep sea port, industrial estate, power plant and cross-border road and rail link to Thailand. The development of the SEZ, together with land speculation in surrounding areas and other confiscations linked to agricultural concessions, mining and military constructions has been met with collective mobilizations. The paper argues that although resistance against land confiscations are increasingly linked to global trends, such reactions are also responding to an expanding opportunity structure in the national political context. Collective action in the Dawei area takes advantage of histories of activism linked to democratic movements as well as human rights repertoires, social networks and trainings across the border in Thailand. Smallholding farmers, in alliance with activists, are also contesting land confiscations conducted by the military in the 1990s, encouraged by a greater political liberalization and testing the grounds for protest and engagement with the state. These contestations have implications for democratization and the transition of state-society relations more broadly. Although embedded locally, this process engages with transnational networks and alliances as well as global frameworks such as human rights, livelihoods and sustainable development.
Auteurs et éditeurs
The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague is part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).
It is a graduate institute of policy-oriented critical social science, founded in 1952 and able to draw on sixty years of experience.
ISS is a highly diverse international community of scholars and students from the global south and the north, which brings together people, ideas and insights in a multi-disciplinary setting which nurtures, fosters and promotes critical thinking and conducts innovative research into fundamental social problems.
Fournisseur de données
The purpose of the Mekong Land Research Forum online site is to provide structured access to published and unpublished research on land issues in the Mekong Region. It is based on the premise that debates and decisions around land governance can be enhanced by drawing on the considerable volume of research, documented experience and action-based reflection that is available.