Chin State locals fear losing both their land and their customary land management system, due to Burma’s Vacant, Fallow and Virgin (VFV) Land Management Law, the Chin Farmers Network said in a statement this week.
This VFV land law—enacted in 2012 and amended in 2018—required people or organizations to apply for ownership of land with land management committees within six months of the passing of the land law, lest the land in question be considered up for grabs.
The law does not take into consideration traditional land management practiced by ethnic people such as the Chin, particularly regarding demarcation and land measurement, the organization said. On these grounds, the Chin Farmers Network on July 3 called for the withdrawal of the VFV land law in a public statement.
“Chin farmers will suffer a lot if this VFV law is actually practiced,” Moe Moe, who spoke on behalf of the Chin Farmers Network, told Khonumthung News. “According to the VFV law, the government will do whatever they want with ‘free’ lands, which are owned by certain villages. With our customary law, these lands have owners. These lands are our inherited lands for so many years.”
The Chin Farmers Network organized a workshop titled “Customary Law and Practical Use of Traditional Lands” in Ngin Thae village in Tedim Township from July 2-3. The aim was to improve traditional land governance, and the network compiled a book on the village’s land management system. The Chin Farmers Network was formed in 2014, and work for farmers’ rights and to promote knowledge about customary law and traditional land use.