Land is life for local grass roots people around the world including in Myanmar and Kayah State. Traditionally, most of the people from Kayah State’s lives rely on their land. Accordingly, their customary land use practices are very strong and represent how important the connection between their lives and their land is. Land brings the people to unite, to understand each other, to maintain their territory, maintain their culture and also benefits them in many other ways.



The customary land practices of indigenous peoples are not recognized and protected by the land laws and this means that indigenous people are losing their rights to maintain their ancestral land, forests, historical land, sacred land and customary land use practices. Furthermore, the current National Land Use Policy does not fully complement indigenous people’s actual situation. This creates further land problems especially in ethnic regions. If we cannot amend the current laws and policies, indigenous people will continue to lose their fundamental rights to maintain their land and natural resources in the future.



Kayah Earthrights Action Network (KEAN) is empowering communities to understand the laws and policies that are not sufficient to protect their land and supporting communities to divide the pros and cons of land law and policy. KEAN is also organizing communities so they can be involved in the amending and adopting processes for new land law that can reflect the indigenous people’s customary land practices. Moreover, KEAN is developing indigenous people’s customary land use management plans in Kayah (Karenni) state so that the government’s land law can reflect their customary land use management plans and can also be in line with international standards.

The draft amendments of the 2012 Farmland Laws and the 2012 Vacant, Virgin and Fallow Lands Management Laws are concerning indigenous people

By Khon Soe Moe Aung


For the indigenous people of Kayah (Karenni) State, land and natural resources are their life, heart and hope. Yet, as a result of the 2012 Farmland Law and 2012 Vacant, Virgin and Fallow Land Management Laws, enacted in the era of President Thein Sein, land has been legally reallocated land from indigenous and grassroots people to investors. This has left indigenous people with many concerns for their land tenure security. Although the current National League for Democracy government are amending these troublesome land laws, their draft amendments leave many concerns for indigenous people’s life security. Read More

The lack of protection for customary land use systems

Written by Kyaw Zaya in Maung Kone Magazine (January 2017 [No. 42]). Translated by Khon Soe Moe Aung and Andy Smith


Traditionally land disputes in U Preh Reh’s village are solved with full participation in front of the customary land use committee’s leaders. In accordance with the customary rules, both sides write down the agreement on paper with signatures to solve the problem. Read More

Bound from Behind