Sittwe: Over a hundred local youths have participated in the campaign against the Shwe Gas Project that was held at the Arakanese traditional New Year’s water festival on 17th of April in Sittwe, the capital town in western Burma’s Arakan State.
A local campaign group known as the Rakkha Ahluntan or Arakan’s Ray, was said to have organized the campaign with its members and participant youths taking to the streets in the town wearing the t-shirts that read “Our Gas Our Future” and singing their traditional antiphonal chants that are composed of negative impacts by the Shwe Gas Project and the peoples’ suffering in Arakan State.
“We have joined this campaign because we have become aware that the project will not benefit us and we must oppose to the project”, said Ko Soe Mra Kyaw, one of the participant youths.
“We have taken to every street and have gone to every crowded place and even to the government’s offices demanding the suspension of the project and singing our traditional antiphonal songs in order to raise awareness about the project and our sufferings among our people. No authority has disturbed our campaign”, he said.
Daw Mar Mar Kyaw Zwar, the leader of the campaign group, said the campaign was launched on the first day of their traditional New Year so as to avoid the authorities’ obstruction of their campaign.
“We had already launched a number of campaigns for the suspension of the Shwe Gas Project on the ordinary days before, but those campaigns were obstructed by the authorities. To avoid those obstructions or disturbances, we have chosen the festive occasion on the first day of our traditional New Year for our campaign this time and we have not had any problems or difficulties in this campaign”, said Daw Mar Mar Kyaw Zwar.
She said that her group would accelerate their campaign against the Shwe Gas Project if the Burmese government continues to neglect and ignore the rights and benefits to the Arakanese people stemming from the project.
“We are not the only group in Arakan State campaigning and demanding our people’s rights and benefits from the Shwe Gas Project. Our leading political party the RNDP has been also demanding the supply of 24-hour electricity in the region from the project in all houses of parliaments and by holding public movements. But the Burmese government is still reluctant to respond or fulfill the demands of local Arakanese people from the project. If it continues to neglect our desire and demand, we will intensify our campaign against the project”, she said.
She said that her group has distributed at no charge CDs of traditional antiphonal songs that were sung in the campaign to the people in order raise public awareness of the project and the suffering of people in Arakan State.
It is also learnt that the group launched a similar campaign on 19th of April in Maungdaw as well.