Myanmar activists plan protests against Daewoo

Vol 9, PW 23 (09 Mar 06) People & Policy

Human rights activists inside and outside Myanmar are planning worldwide protest actions on 18th April against the ruling military juntas plans to produce and export gas from the Arakans offshore.

Protests will be directed against South Korean multinational Daewoo, operator at offshore blocks A1 and A3, where India has a combined 30% stake held by ONGC Videsh and GAIL on each block. Dont expect the junta which has so far remained immune to pro-democracy protests to be moved by the 18th April protests, being organised by the Arakans Students and Youth Congress, EarthRights International and ten other organisations.

Nor is China - itself no great respecter of human rights expected to take much note. India the worlds largest democracy - will likewise be unmoved by the protests because it wants to do business with Myanmar and is competing with China for gas from A1 and A3.

On 18th April thousands of human rights and environment protection activists will gather outside South Korean embassies and Daewoo offices in 20 cities around the world to protest against the Shwe gas project. It is the day of global action against the project and we want to create a huge bang, said Aung Marm Oo, general secretary of the Arakan Students and Youth Congress.

The protestors will target Daewoo offices and South Korean embassies in the US, Europe, India, Bangladesh and in the ASEAN countries. Opposition to the Shwe project is on four grounds.

One, gas export pipelines will be constructed using forced labour and land will be confiscated, resulting in the forcible relocation of entire communities. Two, the project will generate huge revenue for the military junta, encouraging it to continue human rights violations.

Three, the Myanmar people will not benefit from these earnings and the project should wait until the restoration of democracy. Four, the pipelines will lead to large scale deforestation and trading in endangered species leading to severe environmental damage.

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