"Conflict Rubber" and Land Rights in Southeastern Myanmar

Title"Conflict Rubber" and Land Rights in Southeastern Myanmar
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsWoods K, Treanor NBasik, Dwyer M
Key themesDispossession-grabbing, FDI, MarginalisedPeople, MigrationLabour

In the northern Tanintharyi (Tenasserim) Region of southeastern Myanmar, after decades of war, rubber expansion is aggravating tenure insecurity and ethnic political conflict, ultimately undermining peacebuilding and security. Since the main Mon and Karen (Kayin) rebel groups signed ceasefires with the Myanmar military in 2012, rubber production has expanded southward from its epicenter in Mon State by ethnic Mon businessmen. These businessmen, and retired Mon rebel officers, have sought to establish rubber plantations, averaging between 10 and 25 acres (“large-holders”) in neighboring states due to the closing of Mon State’s own land frontier. However, this expansion into Tanintharyi Region during the ceasefire, but before any resolution of the armed conflict, has further fueled land-based conflict between the Mon and Karen in northern Tanintharyi Region. This threatens to limit the return of Karen internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to their original village lands. Between 2015 and 2016, Forest Trends and two field researchers (one Karen, one Mon) studied nine villages in northern Tanintharyi Region to explore the phenomenon of “conflict rubber” – the intersection of rubber production and armed conflict dynamics. This paper summarizes our findings.


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