of the Voiceless
and Human Rights Abuses
- Chronology of human rights violation
and Environmental Destruction
of the Military Regime
Solidarity and Support
in the Shwe Natural Gas Project:
and Human Rights Abuses
As detailed by the UN Commission on Human Rights and other international bodies such as The International Labour Organization (ILO), The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), and Amnesty International, infrastructure development projects in Burma are synonymous with militarisation and human rights abuses (see chronology: www.shwe.org/about/chronology/).
Large-scale human rights violations already occurred in the context of the construction of the Yadana and Yetagun pipelines during the second half the 1990s, which happened in three clear stages:
- At an early stage of the project, the region became increasingly militarised, and local villagers had to leave their lands without any compensation.
- Relocated battalions appropriated agricultural lands and further forced local villagers to provide food for the troops, thus seriously impeding the livelihoods of thousands of villagers.
- Many locals were conscripted as porters and forced labourers to construct military camps and military infrastructure. Others were forced to clear land and build roads along the pipeline corridor and supply routes.
Moreover, communities in the Yadana/Yetagun pipeline corridor suffered torture, and there are reports of numerous extra judicial killings and the rape of ethnic minority women by the Burmese military. [a] Thousands of refugees took shelter in refugee camps, while others became internally displaced.
According to ILO estimates, more than 800,000 Burmese are currently conscripted in slave-like conditions with little or no pay as army porters or workers in construction and agriculture. [b] The organisation has repeatedly condemned the military’s frequent use of forced labour, much to the deaf ears of the regime.
Increased militarisation has also already been in Arakan and Chin states and. While 15 years ago, the number of battalions stationed in Arakan was less than a dozen, there are today as many as 40 infantry battalions plus another 10 signal, backup, border affairs and intelligence battalions, adding up to an estimated 15,000 SPDC soldiers in Arakan State.
15 years ago, there was only a single battalion in Chin State , compared to the 14 battalions today. [c] Burma already has the highest per capita rate of soldiers in the world, excluding city states.
In order to construct and secure the Shwe gas pipeline through Arakan and Chin states (about Shwewww.shwe.org/about/shweproject/), military offensives against Burma’s ethnic pro-democracy opposition would be inevitable, as well as permanent military camps for pipeline security. As a result of militarisation, communities in and around the pipeline corridor can expect:
- increased extortion of local food supplies and random taxation to feed the new troops, as the regime does not provide central support to its troops
- land confiscation for new military installations, access roads and the pipeline itself
- forced relocations of villages along the pipeline route
- forced labour of villagers to clear land, and build new military installations and access roads for the pipeline
- increased sexual violence against local women
- increased restrictions on freedom of movement and the economic activities of local people
It is expected that these human rights abuses will lead to further internal displacement of civilians in Arakan and Chin states, and new flows of refugees into Bangladesh and India .
This as the Bangladeshi government is in negotiations with the Burmese junta regarding repatriation of remaining 20,000 Arakan Moslem refugees from Bangladesh , despite outcries from human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Refugees International and Forum Asia.
Road and military infrastructure development for the Shwe gas project has already begun and with it, human rights abuses...
Among several larger road constructions in Arakan State . Kyaukphyu-Rangoon Road is one of the largest. The Kyaukphyu deep sea port, on Ramree Island , is considerably closer to central Burma than the Arakan capital Sittwe and has become a central part of the regime's planning in recent years.
In November 2004, it was reported that the Burma Light Infantry Battalion 34 daily forced over 500 labourers from six surrounding villages of Kyaukpyu to work on sections of the road. (ALD..)