Myanmar: Report warns of “land conflict epidemic” unless laws & policies adequately address land rights issues
A report by FIDH documents human rights issues surrounding the Myotha Industrial Park in Mandalay -- including the displacement and loss of livelihood of over 1000 families – and raises broader issues on land rights with the influx of land-intensive investments.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development to respond - its response is linked below.
All components of this story
Author: Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development
11 October 2017
(1) Failure to conduct proper human rights due diligence in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
At MMID we follow the laws of Republic Of Union Of Myanmar. Also we operate responsibility and take the United Nations Guiding Principles On Business and Human Rights seriously. MMID's position is that we are a local small business and responsible member of the community.
On 30 June 2012, MMID engaged with ERE Consulting Group Sdn. Bhd to conduct an Initial Environmental Evaluation ( IEE) for the project, they reported :
"The Industrial Park Land is government owned and no significant village community is to be found within the area. Nevertheless, some amount of farming activity has been taking place and a scattering of individual huts (of temporary nature ) have been observed within the site. it is unclear the status of the farmers working on the land but they represent population which require to be resettled or moved from the site once construction takes place."
When the project began, the ESIA rules, regulations and laws in Union Of Myanmar were unclear. MMID engaged with nearby villagers as there were no villages inside the industrial area before the compensation began.
MMID has initiated CSR programs such as school construction, road construction, electricity transmission line construction , health care activities, bridge construction , link road for villages etc...
Job creation and business opportunities were and continue to be available for the villagers.
MMID future efforts will also include the recruitment and deployment of external consultants to the project site, the development of a grievance mechanism, including software mobile applications. In addition, existing MMID's CSR activities at the project site will need to be redirected and expanded in scope and cost.
(2) “inconclusive” land acquisition process and acts of intimidation directed against locals to accept “arbitrary compensation amounts”,
We cannot ignore the expectation of different stakeholders, but at the same time MMID cannot afford to be perceived as a charitable benefactor. MMID will support community benefits programs to be implemented by investors in the Industrial Park. One program could be an agricultural business that works with a local co-operative of producers providing livelihood opportunities for small scale farmers as well as landless populations. Initial meetings with government officials regarding the Business for Peace ( B4P) initiative related to this project have been greeted with support.
(3) violations of locals’ civil and political rights in the form of arbitrary arrests, detention, and prosecution for attempting to oppose land compensation and clearance.
MMID holds the value of the human rights to the highest regard and understand it takes the collaborative effort of the Myanmar Government, the invested parties within the project, and the community to ensure procedures, rules, regulations, and laws are implemented to parallel with the United Nations Human Rights Declaration.
In the next months, MMID will be forthcoming with various initiatives and programs designed to re-interview villagers and determine the true extent of the allegations.
Provide an accessible grievance mechanism in the form of a mobile app with easy-to-use questions/answers in the Myanmar language, supported by icon "tiles" for use by illiterate people. The app could be advertised in social media ( e.g. Facebook etc.) where stakeholders can download the app on their mobile phones and login and register their grievances or questions.
Commission a stakeholder engagement and consultation process to be initiated and conducted by an independent organization.
Grievances and topics that are identified as 'sensitive' will be addressed through effective mitigation measures following IFC standards, in particular standard number 5 , which MMID applies regardless of its financing sources: PS5 advises companies to avoid involuntary resettlement wherever possible and to minimize its impact on those displaced through mitigation measures such as fair compensation and improvements to and living conditions. Active community engagement throughout the process is essential.
Produce a clear and practicable ' Community benefits program ( Business for Peace) ' with all stakeholder (government, MMID and villagers ) involvement.
Such projects are to be implemented by one of the investors in the Industrial Park in the form of an agricultural business that works with a local co-operative of producers and hence provides opportunities for small scale farmers and landless populations. This will help to create a positive impact for the government, community and MMID.
Author: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Myanmar may soon face a land conflict epidemic as a result of the growing influx of investments and the consequent demand for land, unless laws and policies that adequately address land rights issues are urgently adopted and implemented, FIDH warned in a new report published today.
The FIDH report titled “ Land of sorrow: Human rights violations at Myanmar’s Myotha Industrial Park ”, documents the harmful consequences suffered by rural communities in Myanmar’s Mandalay Region as a result of the Myotha Industrial Park, a large-scale industrial project developed by the Burmese company Mandalay Myotha Industrial Development (MMID) in Ngazun Township.
In the Myotha Industrial Park development area, the combination of a flawed legal framework, unscrupulous authorities, and irresponsible investors produced a perfect storm in which more than 1,000 families from 14 villages lost their land – their sole source of livelihood – to make way for the project’s development…
Representatives of thousands of people forced from their homes by an industrial park in Mandalay have called on foreign firms to withhold further investment in the project until a more equitable deal is reached with the area’s displaced farmers.
More than 1,000 households from 14 villages had their land confiscated after the Mandalay Region government approved the Myotha Industrial Park project in 2013, said a report by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights.
FIDH and local residents allege the 4,000-hectare development in Ngazun Township, about 60 kilometres west of Mandalay, has been dogged by judicial intimidation, corruption in land title surveys, and a lack of due diligence on behalf of the project developer, Myotha Mandalay Industrial Development…
An MMID spokesperson told Frontier the developer was doing its best to cooperate with villagers in the project area, and that “very few people” believed they had not received enough compensation for their land...