( Kyauk pru, 10 May 2013) : Nearly 600 villagers in Madae Island of Kyauk Pru township in western Burma tried to enter the township’s courtroom on Monday to protest against the police action suing at least 10 local rural leaders. Following the development the police had however released all the ten community leaders on bail.
The accused 10 community leaders from Madae Island were brought to Kyauk Pru township court by the police with the charges of attending recent demonstrations against the Shwe gas project that is run by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
The demonstration against the CNPC project inside Burma was launched on 18 April 2013 where over 800 villagers joined the programme without the required government permissions.
Ko Tun Kyi, who is charged by the police said, “We were brought to Kyauk Pru township court by the police, but when hundreds of villagers tried to throng in the court campus demanding our release, the police promptly released us on bill.”
When the villagers had arrived in the location and approached the Nga Mauk road closer to the court campus, the police forces intercepted them. After releasing the 10 village leaders, the police announced about it to the agitating villagers and asked them to leave the place.
The accused 10 community leaders, who faced the charges include U Maung Maung Myint, Ko Myo Naing and Ko Yin Hla from Kyauk Tan village, Ko San Aye, Ko Mg Mg Soe and Ko Aung Myint Soe from Praing Wra, U Tun Kyi, U Maung Pru Thee and U Tun Khaing Nu from Wra Ma village, and U Tin Oo kyaw from Pan Htain Say village.
The Madae Island gives shelter to nearly 500 households in four Arakanese villages. It is learnt that the villagers sought permissions from Kyauk Pru township police for the April 18 demonstration against the CNPC, but the police did not permitted for holding any demonstration on the Island.
Then the villagers moved to the Arakan province government for the permission to demonstrate against the Chinese petroleum company, which was also disapproved. However, the villagers did not succumb to it and went ahead with the protest programmes on 18 April.
“In fact, we had no alternative way to show the frustration against the Shwe gas project as the police and also the province government did not permit us to demonstrate. So we did it with desperations,” added Ko Tun Kyi.
The residents of the island have been raising voices against the petroleum project as they are facing huge troubles like confiscation of their lands, environmental damages and prohibition in fishing.
The agitating villagers placed a nine-point charter of demands to the Chinese company during the 18 April demonstration. Their demands include a) to compensate for the confiscated lands with international standards, b) to construct all connecting roads among the villages, c) to employ all villagers living in Island at work-sites of the Shwe gas project if they have workers registration, d) to supply electricity to all villages located on the island, e) to scrutinize all workers from outside in order to avoid crimes in the island, f) to allow villagers for fishing in the surrounding offshore areas of the island, g) not to confiscate lands on the island without the people knowing, h) to build a broken embankment on the Island immediately and i) to compensate those who have been suffering from the project.
The villagers of the island remain upset with the authority as it did not bother to fulfil their demands, rather took actions against the community leaders.