Man Files Defamation Case After Activists Accuse Him of Land Grabbing

By San Yamin Aung 16 December 2016

RANGOON — A Mon State man accused of land grabbing has filed a defamation case against land rights activists from the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, alleging that he was misrepresented in a 2015 publication by the organization.

The report, entitled “Farmland and Tears of National Brethren: Assessment and Recommendations,” details land disputes in Burma’s seven states. It names U Yan Lin Aung, of Thanbyuzayat, Mon State, as reportedly having partnered with state authorities to confiscate 174 acres of land from 14 farmers in Ye Township.

Ma Nu Nu Aung, a member of the 88 Generation’s agricultural economy committee, which works to help farmers reclaim confiscated land, told The Irrawaddy that U Yan Lin Aung filed the defamation complaint with the Mawlamyine Divisional Court. The plaintiff alleges that Ma Nu Nu Aung and other two members, Ko Tun Myint Aung and Ko Myo Thant, insulted him.

U Yan Lin Aung has asked for 50 million (US$36,794) kyats in compensation, Ma Nu Nu Aung said.

The 88 Generation members were summoned to a court hearing on Thursday. The court has not yet decided whether to accept the case and the next hearing will be held on Dec 28.

Ma Nu Nu Aung said that the October 2015 report was based on complaints sent by farmers to the organization’s agricultural economy committee. Organization members then made field visits to investigate the complaints and found that they held up to scrutiny.

“We published the book as an attempt to let the government know more widely about the issues of land grabs and land disputes, in order to solve the problems that are faced by farmers,” she said, adding that the information cited in the report was true.