In May 2017, a military unit laid claim to land in a village in Kachin State, Myanmar, which it said had been signed over by local administrators 25 years prior. By June, bulldozers had appeared. Banana trees, planted by a private company, followed soon after.
Land confiscation in Myanmar spans nearly five decades of military rule. During its election campaign in 2015, the National League for Democracy vowed to “ensure the return to farmers of illegally lost land” and “defend against illegal land confiscation practices.” Upon coming to power in 2016, the NLD declared that it would solve all land confiscation issues within six months. This pledge has not yet come to fruition in Shwe Nyaung Pin village, now covered by more than 1,000 acres of the “tissue culture” bananas—so-called for their lab-based origins—that have engulfed large swathes of the state.
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