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3 new parties vow to fight for Burma’s farmers

Farmers across Burma have been demanding the return of confiscated lands by staging 'plough protests'. In addition to a gruelling workload and endemic poverty, farmers in Burma also face land rights issues.(PHOTO: Han Win Aung)

More than 400 candidates from three new political parties devoted to representing Burma’s farmers will contest seats in the upcoming November election.

Myanmar Farmers Development Party (MFDP), the largest, has nominated representatives for 110 townships in seven divisions, party chairman Kyaw Swa Soe told DVB.

Kyaw Swa Soe will himself stand for election in the Pegu constituency of Daik-U, and says he will work to prioritise the interests of local farmers. His party, which registered with the Union Election Commission in 2012, is based in Rangoon.

The MFDP’s Nyi Min Sein has the task of competing against Aung San Suu Kyi for a Lower House seat in Kawhmu. “Farmers have been exploited for some 50 years,” he said. “So I think when people come to believe in our policies and see our goodwill, they will vote for our party.”

The Myanmar Peasant Workers People’s Party has registered 15 candidates to contest seats in the Lower House, two seats in the Upper House, and eight in regional assemblies.

The party’s general secretary, Myo Khine, said the party is focused on supporting the health and education of farmers, and provides support in land disputes.

“Our party will also work on behalf of workers on issues of forced labour and low wages. The party believes Burmese workers should be paid at ASEAN standards,” he said.

“We will also prioritise land laws, when related to labourers and farmers, and campaign to amend laws to protect them.”

The Confederate Farmers Party*, or CFP, will compete for 15 seats. Party chairman San Linn said the CFP will seek to solve land management complaints in the Pegu [Bago] townships of Daik-U, Waw, Thanatpin, and Kawa.

“There are no legal experts in the land management committee, so when implementing their duties, they make mistakes,” said San Linn. “Nonetheless, the affected farmers have no recourse. We want to solve these problems.”

The Union Election Commission announced on Monday an extension for political parties to submit candidate lists to 14 August due to the effects and difficulties faced across the country due to widespread flooding and landslides.

The Myanmar Peasant Workers People’s Party has stated that they may submit more candidates before the new deadline.

*Not Alliance Farmers Party (AFP) as previously reported.

 

READ about the issues of land seizures of farmers’ land by the Burmese military.