Burma’s government should urgently act to end the unlawful seizure of land in Karen State, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Officials regularly charge villagers with criminal trespass if they refuse to leave land, and in one case, police torched a village. Militia commanders have also used threats, force, and arbitrary arrests to intimidate farmers and take land, particularly in areas still contested by ethnic Karen armed groups.

The 65-page report, “‘The Farmer Becomes the Criminal’: Land Confiscation in Burma’s Karen State,” documents human rights violations by militias, police, and government officials in Karen State for the confiscation of land from ethnic Karen farmers, many of whose families had farmed the land for generations.