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Philippine Activists Call to Postpone Gas and Trans-Burma Pipeline Projects; Urge Thein Sein Regime to Exercise Social and Environmental Responsibility

By Free Burma Coalition - Philippines  •  March 1, 2012

“Unless Burma’s new parliament exercise due diligence to ensure the government complies with international human rights and environmental standards, this Shwe Gas projects will be detrimental to the rights and well-being of the peoples of Burma,” thus said Egoy Bans, spokesperson of the Free-Burma Coalition-Philippines (FBC-Philippines).

Philippine solidarity activists today joined the Global Day of Action against the construction of oil and gas pipelines in Burma called the Shwe Gas and Trans-Burma Pipelines Project led by Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and the Chinese state-owned China National Petroleum Company.

Recently, Burma has stunned the world with some changes inside the country including the release of some prominent political prisoners and the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission. While some observers question the credibility and sincerity of these so-called changes and reforms, others still view these events as an opportunity to engage the government of Burma to institute real democratic reforms.

More than a hundred civil society organizations in Asia-Pacific region and political parties will submit a letter to Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein calling for the suspension of oil and gas pipelines through Burma in order to prevent human rights rights abuses. Petitions were submitted by the Shwe Gas Movement and its solidarity networks at Chinese Embassies in Thailand, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK..

State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) reportedly holds a 50.9% stake in partnership with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) in dual oil and gas pipelines planned from western Burma’s Arakan State to China’s Yunnan Province. CNPC will also manage the projects, which will cut directly though central Burma and affect thousands of communities.

According to Shwe Gas Movement based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Shwe project is exporting valuable natural resources and missing an opportunity to contribute to genuine national development while at the same time causing destructive impacts to local communities and the environment, including ruining livelihoods and increasing militarization and human rights abuses.

Also, reports confirmed that thousands of acres of farm lands have been confiscated in Arakan and Shan States and Magwe and Mandalay divisions to clear the way for the pipeline corridor and related infrastructure. The livelihoods of local fishing families in Arakan State have been destroyed due to development of offshore infrastructure for the project.

RAPE TO DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS

“We belive that this oil and gas pipeline project would further aggravate the already worse conditions of human rights and environment in Burma. This will simply expose the people and the environment to more risks. If the Thein Sein regime and the new parliament are sincere in instituting genuine political and economic reforms as they promised, pursuing this project at this point without considering social obligations will jeopardize their goal,” Bans explained.

“A review of possible harmful impacts of the projects to the local communities is one crucial step the government must undertake. The new parliament must first craft a consistent policy of social and environmental accountability, ” he added.

The group explained that if the Shwe Gas Project goes ahead, it will provide the regime with up to US$ 29 billion over 30 years. “Yes it will provide the Chinese cheap prices of oil and gas but for the peoples of Burma the construction of pipelines spells disaster; it means forced labour, aggravation of armed-conflict and destruction of their local communities and livelihood,” Bans stressed.

Reports inside Burma confirmed that abuses are already starting to surface in the project area, including beatings of fishermen and fishing prohibitions in the offshore drilling area as well as land confiscation at the start of the pipeline in Arakan State.

“While this project may have big potentials to improve Burma’s economic performance, this must be framed to the comprehensive vision of having a sustainable social and economic development where the people are the main beneficiaries,” Bans concluded.

For inquiries: Call (632) 435-2900 or (632) 911-0205 look for Gani or Lyn or call (63) 929-4109647

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This post is in: Business and Human Rights, Environmental and Economic Justice, Press Release

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