Arakanese Demand Rights from Shwe Gas Project

Sittwe: A group of Arakanese have launched a campaign in two major towns in Arakan State in western Burma demanding the rights of Arakanese people from the Shwe Gas Project that is being implemented in the region.

Posters of 24-Hours-Action-Groups- at Buddhist images in Mrauk U,Rakhine state.

The local group, known as the Rakkha Ahluntan, or “Ray of Arakan”, was said to have launched the campaign with its members wearing t-shirts and pasting stickers that demand rights for the Arakanese people from the gas project on Monday and Tuesday in crowded areas in the ancient city of Mrauk-U and the current capital Sittwe.

“We have launched the campaign to demand what our people should get from the enormous gas project in our native region,” said Mar Mar Kyaw Zwar, the leader of the group. The Ray of Arakan is a local rights group in Arakan State and launched a similar campaign late last year as well.

Mar Mar Kyaw Zwar said her group has sent the campaign’s demands to President U Thein Sein as well as to U Hla Maung Tin, the Chief Minister of Arakan State. “As part of our campaign, we have also sent the letters of our demands for sharing the natural gas from the Shwe Gas Project for the benefit of local Arakanese people to President U Thein Sein and the Chief Minister U Hla Maung Tin by fax at 9 am today,” she said.

Campaigners of 24 Hours Action Groups Rakhine State.

A youth from the group in Mrauk-U said they pasted their campaign posters in all crowded places in the ancient city, including the market, religious places, police stations, and hotels, so as to draw the attention of the local public for their wider participation in their campaign for local rights in the gas project.

He added that local police have been closely watching them since they launched the campaign, but have not disturbed them in any way besides following them and removing posters that were pasted in some important public and official places around town.

The campaigners have widely distributed and posted the papers and posters for the campaign to the people in crowded areas, including Main Road, Munbar Gree Road, U Ottama Park, and Fire Brigade Junction in Sittwe.

The campaigners have demanded 24-hour electricity and kitchen gas from the Shwe Gas Project for local use in Arakan State.

Campaigns demanding local rights in the Shwe Gas Project have continually sprung up in Arakan State following official statements by Energy Minister U Than Htay in parliament last October that his regime has no plans to use Arakan’s offshore Shwe Gas for Arakan State, as most of the gas from the project will be exported to China while the remaining portion is being allocated for use by factories in mainland Burma.