Human rights defenders, foreign investment and land in Myanmar

A question of power and marginalisation

Authored by: Alison Graham

Routledge Handbook of Human Rights in Asia

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138855700
eBook ISBN: 9781315720180
Adobe ISBN:


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Myanmar has been recognised for its democratic reform over recent years as well as the attempts of Thein Sein governments to secure peace in the ethnic states, which have been characterised by conflict since independence in 1948. This chapter, however, examines how this progress is being undermined by large-scale land acquisition or ‘land grabbing’ by national and international corporations, aided and abetted by the government, resulting in significantly increasing forms of inequality and marginalisation, particularly amongst ethnic minorities who often live in the resource-rich border areas. It argues that this, accompanied by the still limited civil society space with the arbitrary detention of many of those protesting against such acquisitions, and the lack of access to justice, will increase tensions. With limited possibilities to secure their rights, it seems logical that tensions amongst those most disenfranchised will rise. It concludes by asserting that while both significant and grave human rights challenges in their own right, the issues raised in this article must also be viewed by all actors in Myanmar as together significantly undermining the peace process, jeopardising the creation of a fair, inclusive society and risking a return to conflict.

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