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Letter of Concern from Civil Society Organizations in in Myanmar Affected by Department for International Development (DFID) Support that has led to Closed door Bilateral Dialogue between Union of Myanmar and the China for an MOU to Legalise the Illicit cross­-border Timber Trade between China and Myanmar

By 141 Civil Society Organizations  •  January 11, 2016

Mr. Chalmers Head of   DFID   China
22 Whitehall

Dear Mr. Chalmers,

This letter is to complain about the support that DFID is providing to a bilateral dialogue on timber trade and industrial investment between the governments of China and Myanmar, which has not included the voices of those who would be most affected, contributing to conflict in these unstable border areas, and further instability.

We are a group of civil society organizations representing communities and areas affected by Chinese involvement in the cross-­‐border timber trade between Myanmar and China, as well as Chinese investments on land which is under dispute between the Myanmar military-­‐ government and non-­‐state armed groups, in particular the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

Over the past year, we have become aware of DFID’s International Forest Investment and Trade (InFIT) programme that has been financing and supporting bilateral dialogue between the Government of China and the Government of Myanmar, which is said to have the objective to help define the legality of the Sino-­‐Myanmar cross-­‐border timber trade.

We are very concerned about the nature of these non-­‐transparent bilateral dialogues, which have been facilitated by the Chinese NGO Global Environment Institute (GEI). We, as affected and concerned civil society in Myanmar, have not been consulted, even though the discussions are of great importance for people living in and around forests and who rely on their resources in Myanmar. We have been informed their have been closed door meetings, however no one representing civil society has been invited as far as we are aware, which is counter to the spirit of political transition well underway in Myanmar. Political dialogue as part of the peace negotiations began today in Nay Pyi Taw with natural resource governance being designated as one of the thematic working areas for discussion (Framework for Political Dialogue, Chapter 5, Section E). Certain ethnic armed groups and civil society have called for a moratorium on infrastructure and development projects in conflict areas. These bilateral negotiations that DFID is supporting between the governments of Myanmar and China threaten to destabalise political dialogue, add to mistrust and perpetuate further conflict.

We understand now that there is a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with provisions related to Chinese investment zones in timber processing and investment in “timber parks” (i.e., plantations). Both of these issues are of great concern to the citizens of Myanmar, especially those residing and working in northern Myanmar.

  1. Chinese investment in processing on the Myanmar side of the border may help Chinese traders comply with Myanmar’s log export ban by converting the logs into semi-­‐ processed material. But there are still many aspects of legality that are being ignored, such as customary rights to resources and land, and contested authority over those resources between Union of Myanmar Government and ethnic armed
  2. Chinese investment in development projects has a history of land grabbing, and there is great concern that timber processing zones, and especially any “timber parks” or plantations, will further lead to land grabs and thus exacerbate problems leading to greater tenure insecurity.

We appeal to DFID and the Government of the United Kingdom to consider our concerns, and work to resolve a situation that may inadvertently contribute to the furthering of local communities’ grievances caused by the inequity of natural resource management in the conflict zones of Myanmar. Regional examples of multi-­‐stakeholder deliberation and negotiation such as those that occurred during the development of the Indonesian SLVK timber legality assurance system as part of a Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process serves as an effective example for achieving governance reforms in an inclusive manner.

Myanmar has recently started a FLEGT VPA process which in its nascent stages. DFID has pledged support to facilitate this multi-­‐stakeholder process, yet its actions in China are contradictory and both undermine and jeopardise this national inclusive reform processes. The organisations that have endorsed this letter request that DFID:

  1. Opens up a channel of communication with civil society groups regarding proposals for an MOU between Myanmar and China
  2. Supports inclusive multi-­‐stakeholder governance reform processes such as FLEGT VPA process
  3. Recognises that given ongoing political dialogue in the peace process and the current situation of forest governance in Myanmar, such discussions about a bilateral MOU are premature and pose many risks

Inequities over natural resources have driven conflict in the region and have the potential to undermine the peace agreement process in Myanmar. The investments intended in the proposed MOU risk setting us further back rather than moving forward.

We look forward to your positive response and future dialogue.

On behalf of endorsed organisations and networks, Sincerely,


Khon Ja

Kachin Peace Network kachinpeacenetwork@gmail.com khonja2014@gmail.com

+95 9 425288899


  • Minister of Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Union of Myanmar
  • Director General, Department of Forestry, Union of Myanmar
  • British Ambassador to Burma
  • British Ambassador to China
  • EU Delegation Myanmar

Endorsed Organisations and Networks

  1. Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG)
  2. Women’s League of Burma (WLB)
  3. Transparency and Accountability Network Kachin State (TANKS) (25 member organizations)
  4. SHINGNIP Legal Aid Network
  5. Burma Partnership
  6. DEMO
  7. All Shan St Shin Thantate Students Union (ရွမ္းျပည္နယ္လံုးဆိုင္ရာ ေက်ာင္းသားသမဂၢ)
  8. Shan Youth Organization Pin Laung
  9. Shan Youth Organization Taunggyi
  10. Southern Shan State youth network (ရွမ္းျပည္နယ္ေတာင္ပိုင္းလူငယ္ကြန္ယက္)
  11. Shan youth
  12. NCERD , N’ Centre for Education and Research Development
  13. Genuine People’s Servants – GPS
  14. Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization (C.A.N-Org),
  15. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – Myanmar (PFLAG-MYANMAR)
  16. Youth Circle
  17. Land and Environment Conservation Group- Kutkai (ေျမယာႏွင့္ ပတ္ဝန္းက်င္

ထိန္းသိမ္းေရးအဖြဲ႕ – ကြတ္ခိုင္)

  1. Kachin Youth Organisation (KYO)
  2. Another Development
  3. 8888 Generation Peace and Open Society-Myeik   (၈၈   မ်ဳိးဆက္ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး

ႏွင့္ပြင့္လင္းလူ႕အဖြဲ႕စည္း- ျမိတ္ၤ)

  1. 21. Labour Right Defenders and Promoters (အလုပ္သမားအခြင့္ေရးကာကြယ္ျမင့္တင္သူမ်ား အဖြဲ႕)
  2. Pyo Khin Thit (Ma-U-Bin)
  3. The Seagull: Human Rights, Peace & Development
  4. Wunpawng Ninghtoi
  5. Green Rights Organisation
  6. Mong Pan Youth Association
  7. CKYY – Catholic Kachin Youth, Yangon
  8. Union of Karenni State Youth
  9. Shan Human Rights Foundation
  10. 30. Action Based Community Development (လူထုအေျချပဳ ဖြံ႕ၿဖိဳးတိုးတက္ေရး လုပ္ငန္းမ်ားအဖြဲ႕) 31. 88-Rakhine Generation for Social Development (၈၈-ရခိုင္မ်ိဳးဆက္မ်ား လူမွဳဖြံ႕ၿဖိဳးေရးအဖြဲ႔)
  11. Myanmar Lawyers Network,
  12. Upper Myanmar Lawyers Network
  13. Mandalay Peacekeeping Committee
  14. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- HRDP
  15. Ta’ang students and Youth Union-TSYU
  16. Kachin Peace Network
  17. Twantay Network
  18. Peace & Open Society (Kyaukse Township)
  1. Myanmar China Pipeline Watch Committee
  2. MATA (Mdy Working Group)
  3. Youth pace maker organization
  4. Forum for Democracy in Burma
  5. Action Committee for Democracy Development
  6. Colors Rainbow
  7. Tampadipa
  8. CWK ( Community Work for Kachin )
  9. MATA (Ayeyarwaddy Working Group)
  10. Green Network Sustainable Environment Group -Magway
  11. Hands of Unity Group – Magway
  12. ME – Community Development Center – Magway
  13. Ayar West Development   Organization – Min Bu
  14. Social Care Volunteer Group – Magway
  15. Organic Agro and Farmer Affair Development Group – Pwint Phyu
  16. Natural Sever Community – Pwint Phyu
  17. Myaing Youth Development Organization – Myaing
  18. Farmer Right & Development Organization – Magway
  19. Farmers Union – Magway
  20. Kyauk Htap Community Library – Min Hla
  21. Social Care Volunteer Group – Magway
  22. Magway EITI Watch Group
  23. Lan Pya Kyel : Seik Phyu (လမ္းျပႀကယ္အဖြဲ႔ –   ဆိပ္ၿဖဴ)
  24. Green Future – Ye Nan Chaung
  25. Shwe Ye Nanthar Workers Group: Ye Nan Chaung (ေရႊေရနံ႔သာအလုပ္သမားအဖြဲ႔ –


  1. Guardian Network -Pakkukku ပညာပါရမီစာႀကည့္တိုက္ – Magway
  2. Mintae Village Development Group – Pwint Phyu
  3. Mount Pone Taung/ Pone Myar Watch Group – Htee Lin (ပံုေတာင္/ပံုညာ ေစာင့္ႀကည့္အဖြဲ႔ –


  1. Youth Gardner Group -Taung Twin   ေတာင္တြင္း
  2. Karen River Watch
  3. Northern Shan State Reginal Civill Society Network
  4. KGG Network
  5. Green and Clean Project, Mandalay
  6. လူထုအေျချပဳဥပေဒကူညီမႈကြန္ရက္ The PLAN: Public Legal Aid Network
  7. Dawei Lawyer Group (DLG)
  8. Dawei Lawyer Network
  9. Dawei Probono Lawyer Network (DPLN)
  10. Myanmar People Alliance (MPA) ျမန္မာလူထုမဟာမိတ္
  11. Metta Development Foundation
  12. Thuriya Sandra Environmentalists
  13. BadeiDha Moe Civil Society Organization
  1. Ledo Network (Shing Bwi Yang)
  2. Kachin Relief Fund
  3. Kachin Community- UK
  4. Kachin Women Peace Network
  5. Patkai Network – Pangsau
  6. Shwechinthae Social Service Group (shwebo)
  7. Humanity Institute (HI)
  8. Sha-it Social Development Organisation
  9. Banmaw CSOs Network
  10. Uak Thon Social Development
  11. Mingalar Foundation(Wai maw)
  12. CHAD
  13. Loi Yang Bum Community Development
  14. Htoi San Local Develpoment Organization
  15. Myusha Social Development Society
  16. Kachin State Farmers’ Network (KSFN)
  17. Justice and Peace Commission (Catholic Bishop Conference Myanmar)
  18. Yangon Kachin Baptist Youth
  19. Tavoyan Women’s Union
  20. Myanmar Youth Social and Education Local Focus (MYSELF)
  21. Pan Pyo Let Youth Centre ပန္းပ်ိ ဳ းလက္လူငယ္စင္တာ
  22. Poet Lovers Association ကဗ်ာခ်စ္သူမ်ား အသင္း
  23. Peace Machine
  24. Independent Youth For Change
  25. MasterPeace Myanmar Club Cry for Peace ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးရိႈက္သံ
  26. Karuna Spectrum ဂရုဏာေရာင္စဥ္တန္းမ်ား
  27. Golden Generations
  28. Renovator Youth Network
  29. Land Core Group
  30. Arakan Rivers Network(ARN) and
  31. All Arakan Students’ & Youths’ Congress(AASYC)
  32. Rhododendron Integrated Development(RID)
  33. Rhododendron Famers Association(RFA)
  34. K’cho Indigenous Association (KIA)
  35. Farmers And Landworkers Union (Myanmar)
  36. သဘာဝပတ္ဝန္းက်င္ထိမ္းသိမ္း   ကာကြယ္ေစာင့္ေရွာက္ေရးနွင့္ ေတာင္သူလယ္သမားေရးရာ

ေကာ္မတီ (ရွမ္းျပည)္

  1. Legal Equality In Myanmar Organization (LEIMO)
  2. Peace and Justice Law Firm and Legal Aid Center
  3. Resource Rights for the Indigenous People ( RRTiP ) (Naga)
  4. Karen Human Rights Group
  5. EcoDev
  6. Kachin Women Union
  2. Kachin Lawyer Group(KLG)
  3. Namkyie Parahita Foundation
  4. 128. Organic Farming Group – Pantanaw (သဘာဝ လယ္သမားမ်ားအဖြဲ ့ ပန္းတေနာ္)
  5. Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)
  6. Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma (ND-Burma) လူ႔အခြင့္အေရး

မွတ္တမ္းကြန္ရက္ (ျမန္မာႏိုုင္ငံ)

  1. Network for Democracy and Development (NDD)
  2. Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association (YCOWA) ေရာင္ျခည္ဦးအလုပ္သမားမ်ားအဖြဲ့
  3. Mae Tao Clinic (MTC)
  4. Burma Medical Association (BMA)
  5. Back Pack Health Workers Team (BPHWT)
  6. Free Thinkers
  7. Kachin State Conservation Working Group – KCWG
  8. Wimutti Volunteer Group (WVG)
  9. Educational Initiatives Burma
  10. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT)
  11. Ngahpe Youth Network

Download the letter in English here.

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