In January 2018, the Thilawa Special Economic Zone Management Committee officially issued a notification for the land use permission of three acres of land for 81 displaced households. According to the notification, the land is owned by Yangon regional government and must be managed as ” community land ” for agriculture and livestock (pasture land) by a committee formed from displaced households. The idea to demand a community managed land was initiated by a Paung Ku’s partner, Shwe Maw Won, and Thilawa Social Development Group (TSDG) in 2015 and they officially proposed the idea at multi-stakeholder meeting in 2016. The multi-stakeholder meetings include the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee (TSMC), Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development Company (MJTD) and Income Restoration Program (IRP) from the investor and TSDG and Shwe Maw Won were from the side of the community affected by the project.
The community households and the management committee are highly aware of the risks due to potential conflicts among themselves that could seriously threaten their unity and solidarity. Paung Ku has been requested to participate in learning process for risk mitigation. Paung Ku and Earth Rights International (ERI) supported the community organizing skill, dialogue and negotiation skills buildings for the community group upon their request. Support to the Thilawa displaced community includes: Introducing one mentor who has more than 10 years experience of grassroots organizing to the leaders of TSDG; organizing an “Organizing and Cooperation Concept Workshop’ by a Paung Ku’s partner, Beda in South Korea; and conducting Personal Leadership Development Workshop with Mr. Debendra Manandhar and Tontay Network.
In addition, Paung Ku supported the Vulnerability Index Research and analysis by an internationally recognized consultant to provide a framework to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions for displaced households and to inform guidelines for minimum impact for forced relocations. The research has been debriefed to the responsible Member of Parliament and she is planning to organize a debriefing for a wider audience including the Yangon Regional Government and the State Counselor.