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Introduction to the 2016 program

The core program of 2016 was designed as a follow up of activities of MPA-BCN in Shan State of 2014 and 2015, culminating in a Shan State wide forum ‘The voice of the people of Shan State for peace and transition to democracy’, and a publication bearing the same name (accessible on Myanmar on www.myanmarpeoplealliance.net and in English translation on www.burmacentrum.nl) (revised 2016)

The book was supported by a T-shirt campaign with the MPA T-shirt “Listen to our Voice: just laws, just development, real peace”.
The book and the T-shirts were used throughout 2016 to support lobby and advocacy as well as serve as an example of the MPA method of empowering communities to participate in the transition to democracy by addressing local problems and finding locally supported solutions. Rule of law trainings, law awareness, understanding the basic principles of democracy, development, decentralisation and federalism is an integral part of the MPA method, as is encouraging people to find their voice and speak out for the change they desire. Presenting and sharing the issues faced in communities directly to local representatives and other stakeholders creates a base for democratic participation as well as growing community confidence to take part in the transition. Non-violence as a core principle guiding all MPA and BCN activities supports the troubled peace process in Myanmar.

The 2016 program focused on expanding awareness, knowledge and skills as well as the confidence to be active for change in four selected communities (Naung Cho – Kone San; Baw Saing; Paunglaung and Ywar Ngan). MPA focal persons in Shan State supported the community activities based on their understanding of the importance of sharing the basic principles of democracy, freedom of expression and other civil rights in democratic transition. The communities were provide with the tools to use their civil rights and facilitate dialogue with stakeholders in order to find solutions for problems that affect their daily life. The program was also designed to create independently functioning local MPA communities in Shan State who would be well equipped to support the transition to democracy.
Activities in 2016
Workshops, trainings and meetings
Formal trainings were organised to deepen the understanding of the MPA focal persons and the MPA core team on knowledge and skills needed to execute the program and share the MPA method on community level. Agenda for the training was always designed in co-creation between the trainer (from BCN) and (representatives) of the participants and was based on the needs expressed by the trainees.
  • March 13-19: Community participation training for MPA focal persons from Shan State (including 2 days preparation and one day evaluation)
    29 Participants who are actively involved with MPA joined for a 5 day training that was focused on active participation for change. Topics covered included: inventory and analyses of the post-election situation; risks, challenges and opportunities; democratic models and structures of power and participation; linking examples from other countries to the Myanmar situation; local situation analyses and discussions on possible scenarios for change. Campaigning and planning; gathering evidence to support advocacy and organising community support.
    The training was interactive, with lively debated and question and answer sessions, workshops, and roleplays. Participants felt they had been empowered and were given both better understanding of the principles of MPA and the tools to continue working with their communities.
  • 19-20-21 May: Area Focal persons analyses and networking workshop (Aung Ban), 27 participants.
    This workshop brought together the active village level participants in the program. Issues were analysed and related to a bigger context. Activities were evaluated and program related topics such as freedom of expression, participation and the practice of democracy.
    The MPA mission, vision and method was again addressed to refresh the memories of MPA members attending and to explain to new participants. After these three days, participants knew how to collect information concerning the issues at stake, how to analyse and relate their issues to a bigger picture. Through using an active workshop method of groupwork and sharing sessions, as well as short lectures, comments, advice and debate, participants were ready to extend what they had learned to their fellow community members. The MPA team was updated in detail on the issues in the pilot areas. Representatives from Tyggit were included in this training to share experiences on the coal mining case in their area.
  • May 23: workshop to design training agenda. Based on the evaluation of the area focal persons workshop, MPA team designed a training program for the G15 (a group of MPA cadre/focal persons from different areas of Shan State, who support the local teams as well as the MPA core team in execution of MPA programs)
  • 24-25-26 May: training for MPA cadre and core team in Taunggyi.
    25 participants from Shan State, including the MPA core team came together to extend their practical knowledge on how to implement the MPA program. Again, an active participatory workshop method was used to transfer knowledge and skills needed to be able to support local units and to manage the implementation of the MPA program locally. Topics included: recap of MPA method; analyses of Myanmar political situation, how to make a logical case history and decide what evidence is needed; knowledge transfer on freedom of expression and other civil rights, how to design a campaign; recording and reporting; how to prepare for a stakeholder meeting; basic leadership skills. All topics were accompanied by practical sessions
  • Local community based activities / workshops
    MPA core team and focal persons supported communities in their activities, shared their experiences and guided communities on designing activities and sharing knowledge. Some of the activities were follow ups from the 2015 program. On many occasions communities approached MPA for assistance and knowledge sharing.
  • January 16 - 17: Rule of law awareness workshop in Hopan, Wa Sub Region in Northern Shan State 46 people participated in a workshop given by a lawyer on legal awareness and the principles of rule of law. Local cases were used to illustrate how to use the law to protect the rights of citizens.
  • February 2: Community follow up activity in PaO and Danu areas: 19 participants joined the MPA team to discuss activity and step forward planning. Local issues discussed included land grabbing by Company and how to proceed with the illegal logging case in the western part of Ta Pin Pyaw village.
  • February 3: Community follow up activity in PaO and Danu areas: meeting in Pa Kje Ka Lo village track, Sesaing Township. 25 participants discussed about the effects of local mining, refinery and disposal of waste water in the brook used by the community. The land registration issue (Form nr. 7) was also addressed. The participants expressed interest in more information and training.
  • February 8: Naung Cho MPA network meeting for Northern Shan State.
    35 participants shared the areas issues and activities. MPA planning and strategy was shared to participating community members.
  • February 9: Kyauk Mae MPA network meeting for Northern Shan State. 28 participants shared the areas issues and activities. MPA planning and strategy was shared to participating community members. An evening session was added to share civil rights and land law with villagers of Na Pyeaing village.
  • February 2: Community follow up activity in PaO and Danu areas: 19 participants joined the MPA team to discuss activity and step forward planning. Local issues discussed included land grabbing by Company and how to proceed with the illegal logging case in the western part of Ta Pin Pyaw village.
  • February 3: Community follow up activity in PaO and Danu areas: meeting in Pa Kje Ka Lo village track, Sesaing Township. 25 participants discussed about the effects of local mining, refinery and disposal of waste water in the brook used by the community. The land registration issue (Form nr. 7) was also addressed. The participants expressed interest in more information and training.
  • February 8: Naung Cho MPA network meeting for Northern Shan State.
    35 participants shared the areas issues and activities. MPA planning and strategy was shared to participating community members.
  • February 9: Kyauk Mae MPA network meeting for Northern Shan State. 28 participants shared the areas issues and activities. MPA planning and strategy was shared to participating community members. An evening session was added to share civil rights and land law with villagers of Na Pyeaing village.
  • February 10: Follow up activity in Kone San Village, Naung Cho Township: 44 participants. Meeting was organised to make an inventory of the issues of the community in relation to land grabbing and large national development project being planned in this area. Issues were presented and possibilities for constructive activity debated.
  • February 18: Community follow up activity in PaO and Danu areas: 59 participants came together in Taung Po Gyyi village, Tigyit village tract, Pin Long Township to attend a legal awareness workshop focused on local land and mining issues.
  • February 27: Community follow up activity in PaO and Danu areas: 79 participants came together Mon Pin village, Tigyit village tract, Pin Long Township to discuss land grabbing issues related to the military stationed in this area.
  • April 1-2: Awareness workshop on Rule of Law and land laws was given by MPA in Moe Byae, Pekon Township (South Shan)
  • April 3-4: Awareness workshop on Rule of Law and land laws was given by MPA in Pin Pyit, Yat Sauk Township (Middle Shan)
  • April 6, MPA team conducted a law awareness workshop in Tyggit area focused on the Coal factory.
  • April 9: Awareness workshop on Rule of Law and land laws was given by MPA in Inn Taw town, Yat Sauk Township (Middle Shan)
  • June 19: MPA organized a one day legal awareness training in Kone San with a lawyer on legal rights, land law, compensation related laws and other applicable laws. Direct action was taken (letters to concerned authorities were written) with the assistance of the lawyer.
  • July 27: Paung Laung community led by women activists took action against illegal logging by ‘arresting’ the illegally cut trees. The illegal logging was done by a police officer and supported by his colleagues. The community brought the case to the District Level, which said it would investigate.
  • Local community based trainings
    Four trainings were organised by MPA team in the areas participating in the 2016 program. All trainings were 2 days. In the training, local MPA team shared the concept of freedom of expression, advocacy and civil rights in relation to principles of democracy. Federalism, the structure of the government and the constitution of 2008 were outlined and linked to people participation and the concept of FPIC. Context and issue analyses were made with the participants. Though all trainings followed the same general outline, issues specific to the area were included (such as the dangers of lead in Ywar Ngan and Baw Saing, the issue of infrastructure development and the balance between local interest and state interest in Kone San). follow up plans were made and stakeholder meeting practice was done.
    Though special care was taken to make sure women participated, women participants were still very outnumbered by men. However, the women who did participate are determined to raise their voices and some are developing or expanding their leadership skills and are very active in their communities as well as in the MPA teams (for example in Paung Laung and Baw Saing).
  • On June 21-22, the training was held in Kone San village. 100 people participated in the training (72 male and 28 female).
  • On June 25- 26, the training was held in Thein Kong village, Ywar Ngan Township. 102 people participated (83 men and 19 women) participated.
  • On 29-30 June, the training was organized in Baw Saing.71 people participated (57 males and 14 females)
  • July 22-23, the training was organized in Paung Laung. 104 people participated (75 men and 29 women).
  • Lobby, advocacy and stakeholdermeetings
    Sharing information with elected representatives and government officials as well as companies and other stakeholders (including EAO’s), and having respectful discussions based on data, skills and knowledge is a significant first step to making the needs of the people known to their representatives and other stakeholders. Organising communities and practicing dialogue with government and presenting local issues in a concise way were among the aims of the 2016 program. Empowered people who have practice in sharing ideas based on community consensus are encouraged to become actors for civil rights, fair development, the peace process and national dialogue.
  • Especially in the first trimester of 2016, but also throughout the year, MPA core team members covered several areas in Shan State and Dry Zone to promote the results of the MPA Forum of December 2015 and shared the MPA book in several meetings with political parties, EAO´s and other stakeholders. Local MPA representatives were involved in this advocacy.
  • April 2: MPA team introduced MPA book to Shan State Ethnic Minister
  • April 8: MPA Middle Shan organised a meeting with local farmers and local army battalion, media and Township Land Use Management Committee and Land Registration Department to address the issue of land grabbing by local army battalion.
  • April 8: MPA focal persons from Baw Saing and core team members organized a meeting with the ministry of mining , the Shan State mining association local GAD, reprsentatives of locally operating mining company and village leaders. The environmental and social effects of the mining in the area were discussed as well as an electricity project for the villagers. The MPA book was distributed to the minister of mining on his request.
  • April 9: MPA focal persons of Moe Pyae organized a press conference on land grabbing by local army battalion. Even though an order was issued by the Eastern Command that land should be returned, the local commander did not (completely) comply with the orders. The press conference was held at the kayah Farmer Union office and covered by RFA.
  • June 23: Stakekholder meeting Kone San - Naung Cho on highway construction project in the area. GAD office organized the meeting at Naung Cho city hall and invited local farmers. The meeting was attended by MPs company and government representatives. The topic of the meeting was land and crop compensation. A rough agreement on compensation for farm- and paddyland.
  • On July 10, 2016, Kone San community representatives met with the Shan State Minister for Planning and Economic development. They community presented their issues with the road and bridge construction, the abuse of public land (the construction of electricity towers on community land without consulting), the Form No 7 issue and the construction of mega electricity towers for a hydro-electricity project.
  • On July 11: Kone San community representatives met with the Shan State Minister for Agriculture, livestock and irrigation and presented their issues.They added the request that tax receipts would be reissued and the keeping back of crop tax receipts by local authorities. Following these stakeholder meetings, the Kone San community members who had applied for land registration were issued their registration papers and crop tax receipts were reissued (July 13)
  • On July 16: the local community committee in Ywar Ngan organized a meeting with local authorities, GAD staff, Self-Administrated Leading Body staff and MPs. The committee invited them to come and check the mining near Thein Kong village. They did check and talked with the committee at the village monastery. The result of the meeting is that the mining company is ordered to completely close and move.
  • On July 20: a meeting between communities and stakeholders was organized at the Kone San. There were appr. 200 people from the community, and 4 MPs. The communities shared their issues on highway road construction, electricity towers on Kone San community land and other villages land for hydroelectricity project, land registration issue, forest land immunity issue and keeping back of crop tax receipts by local authorities. The MPs said they would bring the issues to their respective parliaments. A phone call was made to the Shan State minister for planning and economic development, who confirmed that land compensation would be given according to the law and the case of the hydroelectricity project would be investigated. After the meeting, the MPs and community representatives made a field visit to the affected areas.
  • July 23: Paung Laung community met with staff from The Ministry of Electricity. The meeting was about community grievance caused by the construction of the dam. As there were no solutions offered for the long standing problems in the Paunglaung community, the community was again disappointed.
  • On July 27: a negotiation meeting was organized with the Kone San village GAD. U Win Myint, on crop- and land compensation. The result of this meeting was not satisfactory, as the farmers were only offered one time crop compensation for corn, 3 times crop compensation for sugarcane and no compensation for the land.
  • On August 8: Baw Saing community representative met with the Shan State minister for Agriculture , livestock and irrigation in Taunggyi. They presented to him on their difficulties with getting their land registered. The minister promised assistance. The community also addressed the issue of the unregistered village of Pon Ta. The village has been there for more than 70 years and houses 60 households, but is as yet not registered as an official village. This means that the villagers can’t apply for services or land registration. The minister replied that he would contact the Ministry of Home Affairs on this matter. The minister encouraged the community to collect data and supporting signatures for the registration of the village.
  • August 10: Ywar Ngan community representatives met with the Shan State Minister of Agriculture, livestock and irrigation in Taunggyi, organized by MPA. In the meeting, the representatives presented land grabbing cases related with locally operating Company and land registration issues. Another issue addressed in this meeting was about the Forestry department planting a Forestry sign board claiming farming land. Action was taken by the minister to have the signboard removed.
  • August 10: a group of representatives of the Paung Laung community met with the Shan State Minister of Agriculture, livestock and irrigation. The community presented their problems with preparing for cultivation on their substitute land, which is located on hill sides while the community is used to low land farming. A request for a field visit to observe developmental problems in the area was made. The Minister instructed the community to prepare a case for the high land cultivation issue and present it to him.
  • August 10: Paung Laung community representatives (women leaders) came to Taunggyi and met with GAD and staff from the Forestry department to discuss the illegal logging issue. The GAD promised them that action would be taken on the case as soon as possible.
  • On August 12: Paung Laung community captured 20 tons of logs hidden under water. In the days following, more timber was captured: 15 tons one time, 722 pieces of cut wood another time, and again 13 tons of logs. An officer from the Forestry department, Kalaw Township, came to Paung Laung to meet with the community on the logging case. He promised the community to follow up on the case.
  • MPA focal persons and members of the Core team as well as local community representatives are regularly meeting for follow up activities, such as gathering of data, presenting their cases and sharing skills and knowledge on village level.
    MPA core team meetings
    MPA’s Core team consists of 6 persons who are planning, coordinating and evaluating MPA activities. The core team members provide guidance, training and support (on demand) to local MPA units, focal persons and communities. They are expanding the MPA network to other parts of the country. MPA core team also have regular meetings with donor organisations and stakeholders, and do lobby and advocacy on region and state level as well as in Nay Pyi Taw. BCN is a member of the Core team.
  • February 29 - March 12: Core team of MPA and BCN representative hold evaluation and planning meeting, including fundraising and meetings with members of the donor community in Yangon.
  • May 12-16: The MPA team made a field trip to visit the communities involved in the current program. The local situation was observed, update information was shared and the intentions and scope of the current program were introduced. (On May 13, Kone San was visited; May 14, Ywar Ngan; May 15, Baw Saing and May 16 Paung Laung)
  • April 8: MPA Middle Shan organised a meeting with local farmers and local army battalion, media and Township Land Use Management Committee and Land Registration Department to address the issue of land grabbing by local army battalion.
  • On May 17-18: the MPA core team evaluated the field visits, processed the information and prepared for the workshop in Aung Ban (May 19-21).
  • June 1-2: MPA core team evaluation and planning of follow up activities
  • 13 to 24 August: MPA Core team evaluation and reporting meeting. Evaluation, reporting, financial management and designing follow up activities was addressed in (informal) training sessions by BCN staff. Team evaluations and analyses of activities and results were also done.
  • November 27 – December 9: planning meeting with MPA core team on follow up activates. On demand training by BCN to transfer administration and financial responsibilities to Myanmar Team.
  • December 11-18: preparation meeting for MPA program 2017. Introduction and assessment meetings were held in the three areas where MPA will expand its program in 2017. (Monyin (Kachin State), Sagain Region and Mandalay Region.
  • Field visits BCN:
    BCN staff travelled to Myanmar to support the program, conduct training sessions and field visits, coach and advice the Myanmar team on strategy, planning and follow up activities.
  • February 28 - March 20
  • May 7 – June 3
  • July 29 – August 25
  • November 26 – December 22
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    website: g.s.b. schagen 2017; text&pictures: Burma Centrum Nederland ©2017