A group of EarthRights School Myanmar alumni, from many regions in Myanmar including Kayah, Shan, and Rakhine States, as well as Bago and Mandalay Divisions, came together for a weeklong intensive Land Rights training this July. Each alumnus currently works with organizations in the region that address land and environmental rights. This both promotes the work they already do, and increases their capacity to protect communities vulnerable to land rights violations by empowering them to better engage companies and government to improve land policy in their communities.
The workshop covered legal strategies, campaigning, and storytelling as land rights tools. According to Cecile Medail, Alumni Program Myanmar Coordinator: “This workshop succeeded in identifying alumni actively working on land cases and successfully built on the legal knowledge learned by alumni during the previous workshop in July 2013.”
The legal portion of the training was facilitated by EarthRights International (ERI) lawyers. Than Than Aye’s legal overview covered previous and current land laws, including land registration, the right to sell and lease land, and the right to compensation.
ERI Senior lawyer U Myint Thwin presented case studies as examples of which national laws can be used to effectively file a complaint in a land confiscation case, including the 2012 Land Laws, 1994 Land Acquisition Act, and the 2008 constitution.
The ERI campaigns team provided strategic planning mentoring to help the alumni to think through the steps of a campaign plan address challenges faced by their communities. Myanmar Campaigns Program Coordinators Jessica Spanton and BoBo who discussed how to create a successful campaign. After identifying three common areas of focus among the alumni work, the participants worked together to perform a stakeholder analysis, identifying the key players in their communities as well as a campaign strategy that can be replicated in their communities.
The workshop closed with a session on storytelling, facilitated by ERI’s Human Rights Storyteller Jessie Adler. The workshop covered what visual elements create compelling imagery and how to conduct interviews that lead to successful written content. Participants also discussed resources to access necessary equipment for creating a visual advocacy piece, including cameras, editing software, and on line learning tools.
Alumni Saw Eh Say reflected on the workshop, saying, “As last year’s workshop on land rights equipped me with the skills I needed to implement activities on land registration funded by People in Need, this workshop provided me with the knowledge needed to continue my work with the support from Partner Asia.”
In addition to building capacity, the workshop also continued to strengthen the EarthRights School Myanmar network, according to Thum Ai, an Earth Rights School Myanmar alumni who said, “ERI also linked me to other organizations that work on the same subject. ERI not only help me in my work, but it also encourage me to be able to help our communities wider and larger… I thank ERI again very much.”
Another similar workshop for alumni working on mining issues is slated to take place later this year.