Partners Asia Senior Advisor
As international investors and others continue to pour into Myanmar to search out deals and opportunities, one company gives a more humane view of the situation they found in special economic zones(1). The situation reported here is repeated all over Myanmar. In November 2014 Partners Asia staff traveled to Kachin State, and found that villages resettled for the abortive Myitsone Dam are now largely abandoned: the rows of brick houses with wire fences, the school with no teachers and the huge Buddhist monastery not used by the Christian villagers. Many resettled to this “empty” land returned to their former fields, and others have moved to live with relatives elsewhere. The same is true in the Letpadaung copper mine area, where a farmer, Daw Khin Hnin, was killed by police on December 30th during demonstrations against the Chinese company that has ruined their land; in the Dawei Economic Zone; and around the new Economic Zones in Mandalay that have forced scores of families from their land, … the list could go on and on.
It is important that companies seeking to invest in Myanmar understand these realities and that the national laws being pushed through before the 2015 elections are unlikely to measure up to international standards. Partners Asia is assisting local community organizations and the lawyers that defend them through the Oak Foundation-funded rule of law program.