The indigenous Naga communities in Myanmar have called upon the Government of Myanmar to recognize ‘the customary tenure system and respect their rights to own, use and govern over the lands, territories and resources’ of the Naga Village Republic.
The communities said that the Nagas have been occupying them ‘since time immemorial’ at the launch of the advocacy campaign for the ‘recognition of Naga territories and land and forest management rights’.
The report, titled ‘Land and Forest Governance in the Naga Village Republic’ by Resource Rights for the Indigenous People (RRtIP), was first launched in Layshi and later in Yangon on Wednesday. according to reports.
The report, according to a press release by RRtIP, describes the core components that comprise the Naga customary tenure system in the Naga Hills, located on the divide between northwest Myanmar and northeast India.
“The customary tenure system refers to the way that local communities govern their lands, and defines who can use and manage different resources, and provides rules for how they should be managed,” it explained.
However, the tenure security is now under threat from expansion of government administration, the establishment of forest enclosures and development projects at the whim of the central government, it added.
The RRtIP, accordingly, is planning to engage in the advocacy campaign for protection and recognition of the indigenous Naga communities rights in three phases.
Awareness of the customary tenure system and the legal impediments for Nagas and other ethnic minorities in achieving rights over their territories was also highlighted through a media campaign.
A declaration called ‘Layshi Declaration’ urged ‘all the concerned stakeholders be it government, companies, or civil society organizations wishing to operate in Naga territories to respect and recognize the rights of the indigenous peoples to land and forest, and the right to self-determination as enshrined in UNDRIP 2007’.