ABSTRACTED FROM SUMMARY: Disputes over land remain one of the central challenges in Myanmar’s evolving reform process. Land confiscations and forced evictions were a major feature of decades of military rule and internal armed conflict. Small farmers bore the brunt as government officials, military commanders, and their cronies seized land for personal and institutional enrichment; authorities promoted development plans without regard for those affected; and the military and ethnic armed groups took advantage of fighting and displacement to grab vast swathes of territory. Despite some protections under the law, government officials frequently confiscated land while providing limited or no notice and no compensation, often instantly depriving farmers of their only source of income and regular source of food. As a result, countless rural families struggled to pay for food, health care, and their children’s education. While the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, which took power in March 2016, has redoubled efforts to address the issue, large numbers of farmers have been left in the lurch, their livelihoods taken from them and their family’s future uncertain.
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The purpose of the Mekong Land Research Forum online site is to provide structured access to published and unpublished research on land issues in the Mekong Region.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.