THAILAND / DHAKA / NEW DELHI, October 18, 2007 -- As the violent crackdown on people continues in military-ruled Burma, the Shwe Gas Movement calls on multinational oil and gas companies with investments in Burma to suspend their projects and take concrete steps to coordinate support for the UN-sponsored efforts on reconciliation and dialogue in Burma.
In recent statements, multinational oil and gas companies operating in Burma have attempted to distance themselves from the military regime's gruesome violence and abductions of peaceful protestors. Daewoo International of South Korea claimed "Politics is politics. Economics is economics," while Chevron, Total, CNOOC, and Thailand's PTTEP separately claimed their projects benefit the people of Burma.
"The massive protests have conveyed the cries of the people, affirming that investments have not benefited the people of Burma," says Wong Aung, Global Coordinator of the Shwe Gas Movement. "The revenue from these oil and gas projects has armed soldiers that kill and torture peaceful protestors."
Oil and gas is by far the regime's largest source of revenue. Oil and gas corporations last year provided the regime with US$2.16 billion in export revenues and an additional US$2.94 billion in Foreign Direct Investment. Export of gas from the Shwe Gas Project in western Burma to China would double gas exports and the project will create further abuses of the local population and environment, according to the Shwe Gas Movement.
"The regime can not survive without oil and gas revenue and FDI in the industry. This makes the companies particularly responsible," says Jockai Khaing of the Arakan Oil Watch, a Shwe Gas Movement member. "The world is looking at China, India and ASEAN to influence change in Burma. The Oil and Gas industry can be just as influential and should now be called upon to use that influence."
"Corporations are generally very resourceful in communicating with a wide range of private and state actors about their business interests. They should put those skills to supporting UN efforts and human rights," says Naing Htoo of EarthRights International. "If corporations like Daewoo International, GAIL, CNOOC, Chevron, Thai PTTEP and others want to have a sustainable presence in Burma, then now is the time to act."
The Shwe Gas Movement is an international coalition of non-governmental organizations with offices in Thailand, India, and Bangladesh.