Sunday, 31 May 2020

Paris, France: Burmese activists living in France and French NGOs staged a demonstration outside the South Korean Embassy in Paris to protest against the "Shwe Gas" project in Arakan (Rakhine) State, on March 26.

A protest-letter was handed over to the South Korean Embassy explaining the consequences to the local people and the environment that might follow implementation of the Shwe Gas project, according to U Hla Aung, the President of the National Democratic Party for Human Rights (NDHPR- in exile) Central.

The South Korean authorities promised to take the issue to the higher authorities. Pamphlets were distributed to the public, journalists and tourists, he added.

Proposed pipeline construction from gas fields off the coast of Burma is expected to exacerbate serious human rights abuses in Burma, Human Rights Watch said on March 24.

The Burmese army is notorious for using violence and coercion to secure areas slated for major investment projects and commonly demands forced labor to build associated infrastructure. The construction of more gas pipelines across Burma is likely to line the pockets of the country’s leaders while causing suffering for thousands of people.

Major deposits of natural gas have been discovered off the coast of Arakan State in western Burma . One of the gas fields, known as Shwe (golden), is being developed by a consortium of South Korean and Indian firms, in partnership with the Burmese military government, the SPDC. Energy analysts estimate that Burma may have the largest natural gas deposits in Southeast Asia . Natural gas exports are now Burma’s main source of foreign exchange.

Persecution against Arakanese civilians and Muslim Rohingya minorities by the Burmese military has been occurring for decades. Illegal land confiscation by the army and the government-controlled Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) is systematic and often closely tied to infrastructure projects. Some groups have reported that villages in Arakan State have already begun to experience forced relocations, forced labor and other abuses by troops whom they allege are expanding their presence in preparation for pipeline construction.