Displaced Long Ago, Rangoon Residents Call for Justice

By The Irrawaddy 14 January 2013

RANGOON—Nineteen years after being forced out of their homes by local authorities, dozens of people rallied on Sunday in east Rangoon to demand the justice they have been denied for nearly two decades.

The protesters gathered in their former neighborhood, Myanma Gohn Yaung in Tamwe Township, where local authorities claimed 771 of their homes in 1994. The authorities said the area was needed for a Burma Navy barrack, but an expensive residential compound was built there instead by a development company, Wah Wah Win.

The former residents say they could not voice their complaints during the former military regime, but after a quasi-civilian administration came to power in 2011, they were emboldened to report their case to a government investigation commission last year.

The group on Sunday called on the government to investigate the confiscation of their homes, which they called a misuse of power by local authorities. They also called on the developer to give them apartments as compensation, which they say was a common policy for victims of other land grab cases in 1994, when the government was practicing a “hut-to-apartment” policy to raise the living standards of local people.