Wed 30 Aug 2006
Filed under: Business / Trade,News
Campaigners have urged Total and Daewoo International to stop its proposed gas exploration in Burma’s western coast and accused the companies of adding to the severe human rights violation suffered by the Burmese people.
The Burma Centre, Netherlands, is planning a protest rally on September 8 in front of the French oil giant Total’s headquarters, South Korean Embassy and the Indian Embassy in Netherlands, to drive home the point to the two oil giants that their withdrawal from Burma would ease human rights violations and diminish the strength of the Burmese junta.
Jennifer Hartogensis, head of Total campaign of the BCN told Mizzima today, while there are reports of continued human rights violations perpetrated by the military junta, Total and Daewoo should stop financing new research for gas exploration in Burma.
“Total buys gas right now [from Burma] and with the money that they pay for the gas the Burmese junta maintains their position and power. So Total is partly responsible for the bad situation in Burma and they cannot deny knowledge of that fact,” said Hartogensis.
Total, which had signed an agreement with the Burmese junta to explore gas in eastern Burma in 1992, has claimed that the withdrawal of the company would not improve the situation in Burma but it would be replaced by another company.
“Total always uses this argument. We can bring against that, that Total is partly responsible for human rights abuses in Burma, related to their investments and pipeline there. They can take responsibility and leave Burma and so put a stop to human rights abuses in their name,” Hartogensis said.
Hartogensis further said it is questionable if another company will take total’s place in Burma.
“Total is a major oil company, and if they leave Burma, other smaller companies will probably think twice before taking their place, with all the trouble it might entail,” she added.
Total extracts oil from the Yadana gas fields in eastern Burma and transports it to Thailand through a pipeline. While the exploration of gas and construction of pipelines is done by Total the Burmese Army guards the pipelines to Thailand.
The construction, maintenance and guarding of the Total pipeline to Thailand has caused severe human rights violations and damage of the environment, said the BCN.
South Korea’s Daewoo with India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Gas Authority of India Limited and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise are currently in the stage of exploration in the off-shore gas fields of Burma’s Arakan state.
“Even though (Daewoo) Shwe Gas Project is still in the exploration stage, already there are signs of severe human rights violations in that region of Burma as well,” said the BCN in a press statement.