In 1980, during the midst of military rule in Myanmar, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy seized 920 acres of farmland in Bago Region to build a fertilizer plant. The land belonged to over 100 families. The Ministry gave them no warning and no compensation. And when it did not use 297 of the acres it seized, it kept them anyway.
Forced from their own land, the farmers worked as day laborers in the fields and paddies in and around Kyaw Swar village. The work was intermittent, the wages low, and the number of jobs limited. Many of the affected families eventually left to look for work, some resorting to difficult and low-paying jobs such as fishing, which did little more than help them stave off hunger.
U Win Naing Htay was a young boy during this time of turmoil in his village. When he noticed that more and more of his friends were moving away, he asked his father why. The government took their land, his father said, their parents had no choice but to move in search of work.
U Win Naing Htay was confused and upset by this answer; as a child, he didn’t understand why the government would do this to people.
As U Win Naing Htay got older, his confusion lessened but his sense of injustice grew stronger. At 13, he had to drop out of school to work on his family’s farm. Times were tough and there was the constant fear that any day, without warning and without compensation, the government could take your land away, and with it, your family’s livelihood.
“Except for my youngest brother who did go to high school, none of my eight siblings continued schooling. We had to drop out of school to work for our family’s survival,” says U Win Naing Htay. “Our lives were changed dramatically. … Forced relocation of farmers, human rights violations, and land grabs influenced my mind. That made me have a desire to fight for justice and to help farmers.”
Twenty years later, U Win Naing Htay found a way to put this desire into action.
In 2013, U Win Naing Htay attended a land rights education meeting in his village held by Civil and Political Rights Campaign Group (CPRCG), a Namati partner. Myanmar had started a slow shift to quasi-civilian rule three years earlier and as part of the process, was amending its laws. At the meeting, a community paralegal named U Aye Ngwe explained that under the 2012 Farmland Law, farmers could now secure their land by registering it.
U Win Naing Htay applied what he learned at the meeting and submitted the registration for his family’s land, but there was an issue. Someone from another town was claiming the land as their own. He turned to U Aye Ngwe, the paralegal, for help. In working with U Aye Ngwe on the case, U Win Naing Htay learned how the law could be used to solve problems and protect one’s rights. He was inspired.
He began to help several paralegals and farmers with their cases. The Ministry of Electricity and Energy land grab case was one of them.
In early 2013, shortly after the Farmland Law was introduced, farmers whose land was seized by the Ministry worked with local civil society organizations to send complaint letters to the Farmland Administration Bodies at different levels of government. No one responded. In late 2013, the farmers reached out to U Aye Ngwe for guidance.
U Win Naing Htay worked alongside U Aye Ngwe and a representative group of farmers on the case. Together, they collected the necessary evidence and documents, and submitted detailed complaint letters to the Bago Regional government, Township Administration department, and Ministry of Electricity and Energy claiming their right to the 297 acres that had not been used for the fertilizer factory.
This time, the authorities replied. Unfortunately, the response was that the land in question could not be returned as it now officially belonged to the Ministry of Electricity, which is separate from the Ministry of Energy.
Making such claims, regardless of their basis in law, is often the first defense of land grabbers who try to dissuade the original farmers. But U Win Naing Htay, U Aye Ngwe, and the farmers were not deterred.
In 2015, U Aye Ngwe passed away. Though saddened, U Win Naing Htay was determined to carry on U Aye Ngwe’s work and help the farmers get justice. He officially joined CPRCG as a community paralegal and took over U Aye Ngwe’s cases.
Over the next two years, U Win Naing Htay and the Kyaw Swar farmers sent more letters and conducted more follow-up visits. They organized a meeting with staff from the Land Settlement and Record Department and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy in February 2017 and, when the Farmland Reinvestigation Committee was established, sent yet another round of letters and conducted yet another round of follow-up visits.
Their persistence paid off.
The connections they made with Regional-level Members of Parliaments enabled them to secure meetings with the Regional Minister of Electricity and the Regional Chief Minister—the most senior person in the Region, appointed to govern by the President. After these meetings, the government started sending people to the village to conduct surveys, investigations, and to collect information relating to the land grab.
In February 2018, 38 years after the land was grabbed and 5 years after the case had begun, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy released all 297 acres back to the farmers.
The families that had once had fled are now returning to their land.
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Last updated January 30, 2013.
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Last updated: February 2, 2023
Welcome to the namati.org website (the “Site”) and the Legal Empowerment Network Forum (the “Forum”) operated by Namati, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Namati”, “we”, “us” or “our”). We share your concern about the protection of your personal information online.
This Policy describes our privacy practices and sets out your obligations and ours with respect to your use of the Site and the Forum. This Policy applies only to the Site and the Forum and does not necessarily apply to our offline collection of information.
Namati may collect and retain two types of information about Site and Forum visitors: (i) personal information that individual visitors voluntarily provide when interacting on the Site or Forum or on certain other occasions (such as via forms or in emails); and (ii) tracking data, which is data that is automatically collected from every Site and Forum visitor as they use and browse the site.
We may, from time to time, store and archive the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum. The information that we gather may include your name, title, and address, telephone number, email address, credit card number or other elements of personal information. In addition, if you contact us, we may keep a record of your correspondence, including any information contained therein.
You may decline to provide any personal information, but please realize that you thereby may be unable to register or to participate in activities or services offered on the Site and/or Forum.
In addition to the information you submit to or through the Site and Forum, we also may collect and store data from and about you gathered in the course of your use of the Site and Forum. We call this “tracking data.”
Such tracking data may include, but is not limited to, information regarding the number and frequency of visits to the Site and Forum, the websites that you access before and after you visit the Site and Forum, the software and operating system used to access the Site and Forum, and your IP address and Internet service provider.
Our use of your Information involves various forms of communication with you, including:
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Personal information you submit via your member account, other than information provided or content posted by you to public areas of the Site as described below, is deleted from Namati’s records following the deletion of your account. However, such information may continue to be retained by third-party service providers to which it has been disclosed for one of the reasons listed above. Any financial records will be kept in accordance with Namati’s data retention policy.
Your Information is stored on Digital Ocean servers in New York, USA, and WPengine servers located in Texas, USA. When you provide personal information to us, we request your consent to transfer that personal information to the USA. The USA does not have an adequacy decision from the European Commission, which means that the Commission has not determined that the laws of the USA provide adequate protection for personal information. Although the laws of the USA do not provide legal protection that is equivalent to the EU GDPR, we safeguard your personal information by treating it in accordance with this Policy. We take appropriate steps to protect your privacy and implement reasonable security measures to protect your personal information in storage. We use secure transmission methods to collect personal data through our website. We also enter into contracts with our data processors that require them to treat personal information in a manner that is consistent with this Policy.
We have put in place appropriate security measures to prevent your personal data from being accidentally lost, used or accessed in an unauthorized way, altered or disclosed. In addition, we limit access to your personal data to those employees, agents, contractors and other third parties who have a business need to know. They will only process your personal data on our instructions and they are subject to a duty of confidentiality.
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Namati is concerned about the privacy protection of children who access the Internet and this website is not intended for children and we do not knowingly collect data relating to children. Accordingly, the Site and Forum are not intended for use by anyone under the age of 16, and we do not knowingly collect information from anyone under 16 years of age without the consent of a parent or guardian.
We reserve the right to disclose any information to comply with any law, regulation, decree, judgment, order, subpoena or any other governmental order (“Order”) without any obligation to contest or verify the accuracy of such Order.
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The section titles in this Policy are for convenience only and have no legal or contractual effect. The Site, the Learning Site, the Forum, and any third-party services they use, may be subject to additional terms and conditions regarding privacy and use of information. Your use of the Site and the Forum is subject to those terms and conditions, which are incorporated into this Policy by reference. In the event of an inconsistency between this Policy and any additional posted conditions, the provisions of the additional conditions shall control.
We may need to change the Policy from time to time in order to address new issues and to reflect changes on the Site or in the law. We reserve the right to revise or make any changes to the Policy, and your continued use of the Site subsequent to any changes to this Policy will mean that you agree to and accept such changes. You can tell if the Policy has been updated by checking the last revised date posted on the top of this page. Historic versions can be obtained by contacting us at email@example.com.
You can access, remove, update or correct your information in your Site profile and your Forum profile.
You can also access, remove, update or correct your information, and raise any questions or concerns regarding the Site or the Policy, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailing:
Namati Data Protection Officer
1616 P Street NW, Suite 101
Washington, DC 20036, USA
It is important that the personal data we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal data changes during your relationship with us.
You have the right to:
Request access to your personal data (commonly known as a “data subject access request”). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal data we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it.
Request correction of the personal data that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate data we hold about you corrected, though we may need to verify the accuracy of the new data you provide to us.
Request erasure of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal data where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal data where you have successfully exercised your right to object to processing (see below), where we may have processed your information unlawfully or where we are required to erase your personal data to comply with local law. Note, however, that we may not always be able to comply with your request of erasure for specific legal reasons which will be notified to you, if applicable, at the time of your request.
Object to processing of your personal data where we are relying on a legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and there is something about your particular situation which makes you want to object to processing on this ground as you feel it has an impact on your fundamental rights and freedoms. You also have the right to object where we are processing your personal data for direct marketing purposes. In some cases, we may demonstrate that we have compelling legitimate grounds to process your information which override your rights and freedoms.
Request restriction of processing of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to suspend the processing of your personal data in the following scenarios:
Request the transfer of your personal data to you or to a third party. We will provide to you, or a third party you have chosen, your personal data in a structured, commonly used, machine-readable format. Note that this right only applies to automated information which you initially provided consent for us to use or where we used the information to perform a contract with you.
Withdraw consent at any time where we are relying on consent to process your personal data. However, this will not affect the lawfulness of any processing carried out before you withdraw your consent. If you withdraw your consent, we may not be able to provide certain products or services to you. We will advise you if this is the case at the time you withdraw your consent.
You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal data (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive. Alternatively, we could refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances.
We may need to request specific information from you to help us confirm your identity and ensure your right to access your personal data (or to exercise any of your other rights). This is a security measure to ensure that personal data is not disclosed to any person who has no right to receive it. We may also contact you to ask you for further information in relation to your request to speed up our response.
We try to respond to all legitimate requests within one month. Occasionally it could take us longer than a month if your request is particularly complex or you have made a number of requests. In this case, we will notify you and keep you updated.
If you live in an EEA Member State, all of which have adopted the EU GDPR and national , you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority about this policy and its application. The European Commission has a list of EU national data protection authorities here:
If you live in the United Kingdom, you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority, the ICO, about this policy and its application:
The Policy was updated in July 2022 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.