Narinjara News

Dhaka, January 14


Arakan gas campaigners hold press conference in Dhaka

A group of Arakanese gas campaigners held a joint press conference, titled “To Resist Plundering of Oil-Gas,” with Bangladeshi student’s leaders of the Student-Youth Movement to Resist Plundering of Oil-Gas and local social activists in Dhaka on January 13th.

The conference began around 3 PM yesterday in a press club of Dhaka with 50 participants including journalist, reporters, and radio producers in attendance.


Included in the conference were 6 prominent Bangladeshis, and a Burmese gas campaigner sat as keynote member.


Among the conference’s agendas, the current gas field fires in Bangladesh as well as the tri-partisan energy talks currently being held in Rangoon, prevailed.


Some Bangladeshi people are currently in grave danger from gas field fires as the Tengratila gas field, under the Sylhat district, is on fire and over 10,000 people are still fleeing from their homes due to the fear of explosions.


According to local sources, the fires have damaged surrounding areas including local forests and paddy fields.


One key note speaker mentioned the area’s two gas pipe lines, the three nation gas pipe line and the Bangladesh domestic gas pipe line, and demanded compensation for those people adversely affected by their construction and presence.


“Even though the present pipeline fire in Bangladesh is not a big one, over ten thousand people are fleeing far from home. We need to consider how much danger will come to our land by allowing the three nation gas pipe line in our soil.”


A keynote speaker, Abul Barket, Ph.D, secretary of the Bangladesh Economic Association, said in the conference that Burma was a very serious and unstable country. He pointed out Burma’s many controversial political problems and that the situation in Burma is still in chaos. He questioned why Bangladesh would want to cooperate with Burma’s junta, “Our country’s image will be affected by the cooperation with Burmese military government for natural gas,” he said.


Bangladesh has agreed to meet with Rangoon to cooperate in the exploration, drilling, and development of the offshore natural gas field in Arakan State, as well as the plan to pipe said gas to India through Bangladesh.


Another keynote speaker, Mr Soe Bon, a gas campaigner from Burma, read a

press release that contained a two point appeal regarding the pipeline plan to the international community as follows:


1. Postpone the extraction of the Shwe natural gas deposit until a time when the affected people in Western Burma can participate in decision about the use of their local resources and related infrastructure development without fearing persecution.


2. Withdraw or freeze all current business with the military regime, and refrain from further investment until dialogue can be held with a democratically elected government.


He said that he was there to request that the Bangladesh government and people not cooperate with the Burmese military junta on the proposed gas pipe line project because the revenues from the project would not go to the Burmese people but rather would only benefit the military government. After receiving any foreign currency, the Burmese military junta will most likely buy a number of arms and ammunition for use in the further oppression of its people. #



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