Threats to the forests of Burma/Myanmar
|Title:|| ||Turning Treasure Into Tears - Mining, Dams and Deforestation in Shwegyin Township, Pegu Division, Burma
|Date of publication:|| ||20 February 2007|
|Description/subject:|| ||Executive Summary: "This report describes how human rights and environmental abuses continue to be
a serious problem in eastern Pegu division, Burma – specifi cally, in Shwegyin
township of Nyaunglebin District. The heavy militarization of the region, the indiscriminate
granting of mining and logging concessions, and the construction of
the Kyauk Naga Dam have led to forced labor, land confi scation, extortion, forced
relocation, and the destruction of the natural environment. The human consequences
of these practices, many of which violate customary and conventional international
law, have been social unrest, increased fi nancial hardship, and great
personal suffering for the victims of human rights abuses.
By contrast, the SPDC and its business partners have benefi ted greatly from
this exploitation. The businessmen, through their contacts, have been able to rapidly
expand their operations to exploit the township’s gold and timber resources.
The SPDC, for its part, is getting rich off the fees and labor exacted from the villagers.
Its dam project will forever change the geography of the
area, at great personal cost to the villagers, but it will give the regime
more electricity and water to irrigate its agro-business projects.
Karen villagers in the area previously panned for gold and
sold it to supplement their incomes from their fi elds and plantations.
They have also long been involved in small-scale logging
of the forests. In 1997, the SPDC and businessmen
began to industrialize the exploitation of gold deposits and
forests in the area. Businessmen from central Burma
eventually arrived and in collusion with the Burmese
Army gained mining concessions and began to force
people off of their land. Villagers in the area continue
to lose their land, and with it their ability to provide
for themselves. The Army abuses local villagers,
confi scates their land, and continues to extort
their money. Commodity prices continue to rise,
compounding the diffi culties of daily survival.
Large numbers of migrant workers have
moved into the area to work the mining concessions
and log the forests. This has created a
complicated tension between the Karen and
these migrants. While the migrant workers
are merely trying to earn enough money to
feed their families, they are doing so on the
Karen’s ancestral land and through the exploitation
of local resources. Most of the migrant
workers are Burman, which increases
ethnic tensions in an area where Burmans often
represent the SPDC and the Army and are already
seen as sneaky and oppressive by the local
Karen. These forms of exploitation increased since the announcement of the construction
of the Kyauk Naga Dam in 2000, which is expected to be completed in late
2006. The SPDC has enabled the mining and logging companies to extract as
much as they can before the area upstream of the dam is fl ooded.
This situation has intensifi ed and increased human rights violations against
villagers in the area. The militarization of the region, as elsewhere, has resulted
in forced labor, extortion of money, goods, and building materials, and forced relocation
by the Army.
In addition to these direct human rights violations, the mining and dam construction
have also resulted in grave environmental degradation of the area. The
mining process has resulted in toxic runoff that has damaged or destroyed fi elds
and plantations downstream. The dam, once completed, will submerge fi elds,
plantations, villages, and forests. In addition, the dam will be used to irrigate rubber
plantations jointly owned by the SPDC and private business interests.
The Burmese Army has also made moves to secure the area in the mountains
to the east of the Shwegyin River. This has led to relocations and the forced displacement
of thousands of Karen villagers living in the mountains. Once the Army
has secured the area, the mining and logging companies will surely follow..."|
|Source/publisher:|| ||EarthRights International (ERI)|
|Format/size:|| ||pdf (632K)|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||06 March 2007|
|Title:|| ||The War on Kachin Forests
|Date of publication:|| ||November 2001|
|Description/subject:|| ||"One of the world’s "biodiversity hotspots" is under siege, as a growing number of business interests
seek to cash in the "peace" in northern Burma’s Kachin State... A project is in progress to build a number of roads in Kachin State in return for huge logging concessions.
While improving and expanding the infrastructure in Kachin State is much needed, the impact of this deal on
the environment could prove to be disastrous..."|
|Author/creator:|| ||John S. Moncreif and Htun Myat|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy", Vol. 9. No. 8|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||03 June 2003|