Myanmar: Stop arresting farmers, says 88 Generation

By arresting and sentencing so many farmers and activists for protesting land grabs, Burmese authorities are affecting the stability of the state, warned the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society.

At a press conference held at the 88 Generation office in Rangoon on Friday, various speakers complained about land seizures across the country and heavy-handed tactics used by security forces to break up protests by the farmers and their supporters.

Speaking afterward to DVB, 88 Generation’s Tun Myint Aung said that over a hundred persons had been detained or were facing lawsuits for protesting the land grabs.

“Our country’s economy is based on agriculture, but more and more frequently we are seeing cases of land being seized from the farmers who depend on it for their livelihood,” he said. “We urge the authorities to free all persons detained over these issues.”

According to a statement released by 88 Generation, the number of detentions of farmers and activists is increasing while the manner in which the issues are being handled by parliament is “discouraging”.

The statement said that numerous land confiscations had been committed by the Burmese army, private companies and large corporations. It highlighted 21 cases in different parts of Burma where farmers had lost lands and were now facing lawsuits and imprisonment for the act of protesting or refusing to accept the loss of their lands.

The 88 Generation group also urged the authorities to consider the interests of the farmers in question, and to re-evaluate the existing laws relating to agriculture, and to take action against corrupt officials and those who abuse their power.