Sunday, November 4, 2007

Burma's Link between Environmental Degradation and Human Rights Abuses


*The petitions are now up to 18. Here's the newest one--The Burma Rivers Network's PETITION calls on the Chinese government to closely monitor Chinese companies that invest in hydropower and other extractive industries in Burma (and other countries). Nontransparent operation, poor oversight, and not keeping affect communities informed has led to environmental degradation and human rights abuses in Burma.

In my opinion, most commentators and analysts have overwhelmingly overlooked to what extent foreign and government investment in large scale development projects has lead to environmental degradation and human rights abuses. Many hydropower plants, mines, timber concessions, and other infrastructure projects are located in armed conflict areas. Villagers are often forced to work on these projects with no pay or food, often to the point of starvation, exhaustion, and sickness. Many are killed for not being able to continue carrying excessive loads.

Even worse, Burma Army soldiers are employed to ensure the security of these projects. As projects are commonly located in ethnic conflict areas, it gives the opportunity for Burmese troops to continue their use of torture, killings, sexual violence, and village destruction to further subjugate ethnic groups and to weaken the resistance movement--these projects are part in parcel of the junta's campaign to extend influence and to consolidate control.

For more on this ecological perspective, other sources to look at:

Salween Watch
Earthrights International
International Rivers Network
Foundation for Ecological Recovery
South East Asia Rivers Network
Shan Herald Agency for News