Activists to launch global campaign against Shwe Gas

Dhaka: A global campaign against the Shwe Gas Project in western Burma’s Arakan State will be held on the 1st of March, said Ko Won Aung, the coordinator of the Shwe Gas Movement based in Thailand.

“We will carry out three main activities that make up our global campaign against the Shwe Gas Project. First we will demand the foreign governments and stake holders in the project to temporarily suspend the project withdrawing their respective investments from the project in consideration of social suffering, environmental damage and human rights violations impacted by the project in our region, and second a signed petition by over 100 organizations will be sent to President U Thein Sein, and third we will hold demonstrations in a number of countries that include stake holding countries in the project”, said Ko Won Aung.

He said they have to demand the suspension of the project because the locals rights and benefits are being neglected in the project.

“We have not found any conditions that guarantee the rights and benefits for our local Arakanese as well as the whole Burmese people in the project and the government is also not transparent about the project. That is why we have to continue to demand the suspension of the project until the gas for domestic use and the rights and benefits of local peoples are guaranteed in the project”, he said.

Ko Won Aung said the petition letter they will send to president U Thein Sein for the suspension of the project will be signed by the local Arakanese and international organizations that are working for social welfare, the environment and human rights.

He said they have written in the petition to the president that the natural gas from the project is very important for the energy sector in the country and should be sold to foreign countries after fulfilling domestic demand and that the government should temporarily suspend and continue the project after ensuring the rights and benefits of the local people and the necessities of gas in the country.

The offshore Shwe gas reserve in Arakan coast was found by the joint explorations of the Burmese regime’s oil and gas enterprise and the Daewoo International Corporation in 2004 and is now being developed to produce and export gas to China through the pipeline. The Burmese regime will earn an estimated $29 billion USD from gas exports from the reserve.

As the project is not transparent and has been troubling the local people with rights violations such as forcible land confiscations and relocations since it was started, the local peoples have risen to voice and demand their rights from the project including 24-hour electricity in their region to be supplied from the power generated by gas from the project as well.

The Burmese regime still reluctant however and neglecting to listen to and meet the demands of local people, and continuing the project in partnership with international governments and companies.