17 August 2019
Thesis Examination: “China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the Dispossession of Customary Land Tenures Rights and Livelihood Insecurity of Ta’ang Tea Farmers in Northeast Myanmar"
 
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RCSD Center, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University is pleased to invite you to participate in a thesis examination:

“China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the Dispossession of Customary Land Tenures Rights and Livelihood Insecurity of Ta’ang Tea Farmers in Northeast Myanmar”

Presenter: Mr. Nyein Han Tun (Stephen), M.A in Social Science, specializing in Development Studies

Saturday August 17, 2019, from 13.45 p.m. at the RCSD study room 02-001, 2nd floor, Operational building, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University

Examining committee
Asst. Prof. Dr. Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University)
Lect. Dr. Mukdawan Sakboon (Chiang Mai University)
Lect. Dr. Prasit Leepreecha (Chiang Mai University)

Abstract: The opening up of Myanmar since 2012, following several decades of dictatorship, has provided hope for inclusive development, but concerns have been raised over further entrenchment of land grabbing as Myanmar hosts China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) as part of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This movement has also been facilitated by amendments to the national land-use policy. A departure from previous contemporary literature, this research employed the use of a critical ethnography, conducting the research among the indigenous people who are the ancient settlers in Northeast Myanmar and examining the impact of the CMEC oil and gas pipeline on their native lands at the locations directly affected by this project. The researcher interviewed diverse actors — sixty tea farmers, some local authorities (party/armed groups) and members of civic groups. Empirically, capital accumulation from the CMEC project (gas/oil), in producing for global energy markets, has caused marginalisation and livelihood insecurity for tea farmers through the dispossession of their traditional lands in the Tatmadaw / military-assisted land acquisition. Customary land tenure, hence, is affected because the tea farmers have no rights to claim, control and access to land, as well as to obtain adequate compensation. These have been the root of clashes between the Tatmadaw and Ta'ang liberation group. The food supply and livelihood security, furthermore, are threatened as the tea and paddy farming, and access to water, hunting and fishing, are in decline due to the CMEC's infrastructure development and military conflicts. The local women are at risk of being abused by militants, thus, exacerbating the traditional exclusion of Ta’ang-women from accessing land-rights. Most respondents proposed that these insecurities need to be addressed, renegotiation with all involved parties is necessary for peace, solidarity and development, and legislation needs to be introduced that legitimizes customary land policy to protect the tea farmers' rights, land and natural environment.