A third demonstration was held in Malaysia on 26 April, calling for a halt to the Shwe Gas Project that is being undertaken in Arakan State, Burma.
About 350 Arakanese people participated in the demonstration that was held in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The participants shouted slogans while holding placards and Arakanese flags.
Ko Thar Tun Aung, a participant in the demonstration said, “This Shwe Gas Project caused several problems to the locals, such as land confiscation, forced relocation, homelessness, environmental degradation, and coral destruction. We can not turn a blind eye to these problems, that’s why we are demonstrating here.”
Ko Thar Tun Aung is the president of the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD-exile Malaysia Branch). He continued talking about the suffering of the locals as follows. “People became jobless because their land is being confiscated and the children can not go to school due to poverty. Several women were also assaulted by the foreigners who came to work with the project. Therefore, we do not want this project and we ask for the immediate stop of the project.”
The demonstration was coordinated by the Arakan Liberation Party (Malaysia Branch), Arakanese Refugee Relief Committee (ARRC), Malaysia Arakanese Organization, and the ALD (Exile Malaysia Branch).
A woman who participated in the demonstration, who is also a teacher, told Narinjara, “Our right to use our own national resources has been ripped off. What’s more, we have lost our land. Women have been assaulted and raped. Even a tiny portion of the benefits of the project is not distributed to us. We want distribution of wealth. The people need it. We are sad that the people are deprived and we came here today to demonstrate for the people.”
Ko Khine Saw Ray, a member of the ALP in Malaysia, also told Narinjara that they are going to send a petition to President U Thein Sein through the Burmese embassy, asking to halt the Shwe Gas Project.
He said, “KMDC Company from Korea and Brilliant Oil Corporation Pte from Singapore are involved in the project. CNPC from China and ESSAR from India are also involved in the gas and oil exploration. We urged every company that is involved to immediately halt the project. We have also sent a petition letter including 1,000 signatures to the Chinese ambassador and we will send the letter to President Thein Sein through the Burmese Embassy.”
The demonstrators peacefully shouted the slogans while wearing t-shirts with the messages “Our Gas, Our Future”, “Stop Shwe Gas”, “Stop Pipelines”, “Stop the Shwe Gas Project”, and “Get out Daewoo and CNPC Companies”.
In Malaysia, two similar demonstrations have been organized twice before – first in early 2011 and then again on 13 October, 2011. This demonstration started at 11 am Malaysia-time and ended successfully at 11:30 am.