The government of Chin State has decided to postpone its plans to start demolishing unregistered homes in an area slated for development in the state capital Hakha after Christian religious leaders stepped in to mediate in the dispute.
“We were going to start carrying out our house demolition plan on August 9, but Christian pastors came to discuss the matter with our chief minister, so we have postponed our plan until August 19,” Soe Htet, Chin State’s minister for municipal affairs, told Khonumthung News.
The state government has been warning the owners of the unregistered homes for months that they would not be allowed to remain in the new Hakha city project area, which is situated on 676 acres of land near a golf course on the Hakha-Thantlang highway. They were told to tear down the houses themselves or face forcible demolition by the government.
According to the government, there were just eight houses in the project area when it began, but that number increased to 135 after the construction of a new road. Soe Htet has accused unscrupulous “brokers” of selling land that they don’t own.
The owners of the houses claim, however, that the project is built on inherited land and therefore not subject to Burma’s controversial Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law, which many say is being used to dispossess the rightful owners of land around the country.
The homeowners say that the government did not consult with them before seizing the project area, and so have refused to vacate the land.
On July 31, about 70 people demonstrated in Hakha against the state government after it issued a threat to demolish the unregistered houses.
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