Disputes over land tenure in Southeast Asia are a real threat to economic and political stability in countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Governments in these countries have reportedly seized millions of acres of land for purposes ranging from mining projects to resort hotels. People evicted from their land are often poorly compensated, and forcibly removed from their homes. Without legal recourse, many have turned to violence to protest their grievances. We explore this problem by the numbers:
The number of years Vietnamese farmers are granted use of agricultural land by the government. Private ownership of land is not permitted in Vietnam, but in 1993 the government handed out 20-year usage rights for agricultural development. These rights are set to expire this year. In recent years, Vietnam has experienced a series of violent clashes between farmers and authorities over land rights.
The percentage of Cambodians whose livelihoods depend on small-scale agriculture and forests. An estimated 400,000 farmers in poor rural areas have been affected by land grabbing since 2003.
The number of villages that have been razed in Myanmar’s copper-rich Letpadaung district to make way for a Chinese-Myanmar mining joint venture. After protests by local communities demanding closure of the mine over environmental concerns, the Chinese company launched a series of social-responsibility project to provide free healthcare and education to nearby villagers.
The age of Heng Chantha, a Cambodian teenager, when she was killed by police during a land protest in May 2012. In nearby Myanmar, 42 people were injured when they clashed with police over land conflicts in the Irrawaddy Delta area in February.
The number of people in Phnom Penh (about 11 percent of the population of the city) who were evicted from their land between 1990 and 2009. The appropriation of property around Boeng Kak Lake in Phnom Penh has been a focal point for land rights protests in the city.