The ethnic Chin people are the rightful owners of the land and natural resources in Chin State, the Chin Land Affairs Network (CLAN) declared in a meeting on amendments to Burma’s Vacant, Fallow and Virgin (VFV) land law in Kalay, Sagaing Region, last week.
CLAN held discussions on the law’s impact on the people from February 12-13 and then released a statement after the meeting.
“Only Chin people have the right to manage Chin lands. Regarding the allocation of natural resources with the Union, they need the agreement of Chin people before they use these resources,” CLAN’s Mang Zakup told Khonumthung News.
Amendments to the 2012 VFV land law made in September of last year require anyone using “vacant, fallow or virgin” land to apply to a land management committee within six months to obtain documentation allowing them tenure over the land.
Mang Zakup maintained, “there is no vacant or fallow land in our Chin State.” As it stands, the law gives the central government in Naypyidaw the right to manage land in the state, “completely breaking our customary and traditional management.”
“If we accept this law, the central government will officially have the right to allow foreign companies to use these lands. Our local people will lose their inherited lands,” he said.
Many Chin people who do not have official ownership documents will lose their land they depend on for their livelihoods because it will be wrongly classified as vacant, Mang Zakup added. In CLAN’s statement, the network condemned a recent statement by the Chin State transportation minister declaring that there are no inherited lands in Chin state. CLAN also called for the withdrawal of the VFV land law.