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Demanding Korean Corporate Withdrawal from Shwe Gas

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{mosimage} Civil Society activists protested outside the South Korean Embassy in Bangkok on 26 March, the 4th Global day of Action against Shwe Gas Project, to demand Daewoo International and Korea Gas Corporation to withdraw its investment in Shwe Gas Project.
(With additional information from Shwe Gas Movement and Earthrights International)

About a dozen civil society activists demonstrated in front of the South Korean embassy in Bangkok on Monday, 26 March against the Shwe Natural Gas Project in western Burma. The activists held placards demanding that Korean corporations like Daewoo International withdraw their plans to develop the offshore oil fields discovered in late 2003.

The protestors also demanded that the South Korean government not endorse the actions of Daewoo International, whose president has been charged with illegally selling military hardware to Burma in exchange for developing and obtaining the gas resources off the coast of Arakan State.

“The Shwe gas project will directly result in widespread human rights abuses, such as forced labour and land confiscation,” said Wong Aung, Global Coordinator of the Shwe Gas Movement in a press statement. “India and South Korea have the power to stop these abuses and to encourage real change in Burma.”

India is the other country whose oil and gas corporations are involved in the Shwe gas deal; since 2004 the Indian government has increased arms sales to Burma.

He added that “international standards are being ignored and there is no public participation in these gas projects. Real participation can only come through a sound, democratically-elected government in Burma.”

The protest was part of a global effort organised by the Shwe Gas Movement, made up of Burmese and regional activists spearheading the campaign. They believe that if the gas project goes unchecked, it will result in exploitation of ordinary Burmese people, large-scale human rights abuses and militarisation, environmental and cultural destruction, and the entrenchment of the military regime in Burma.

Protests took place worldwide on Monday across four continents as part of the fourth Global Day of Action against the Shwe Gas Project. These were done in cities such as New Delhi, Dhaka, Washington D.C., Sydney, London, Oslo, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

The protestors in Bangkok presented a letter from Wong Aung to South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, urging him to find another way to obtain natural resources, in such a way that it does not compromise the lives and livelihoods of Burmese already suffering under the current regime.

“We do understand that energy security is an issue particularly for countries like South Korea which doesn’t have much natural resources,” said Matthew Smith from environmental organisation EarthRights International, which co-organised the protest. “However, we believe that there is no excuse for the acquisition of non-renewable energy sources at the expense of the human rights of the people of Burma.”

EarthRights International is based in Washington, D.C. and deals with issues at the intersection between the environment and human rights.

Thailand currently pipes approximately one billion cubic feet of gas per day from Burma, and is the third largest investor in Burma, behind Singapore and Britain. The recent bidding by the Thai government on gas from the Shwe project raised concerns of regional human rights and development NGOs, including FORUM-ASIA and Activists Society for Change (ACS), a local Thai network of young activists.

FORUM-ASIA Thailand/Burma Program Associate Pokpong Lawansiri said that the Thai government’s involvement in the Shwe project “will make Thailand responsible for preventable abuses and pose a threat to regional peace and security.”

“Thailand must not contribute to these human rights abuses against our neighbours in Burma – the current Thai government could show its commitment to human rights in the region by not supporting this project,” he said.

The South Korean corporations involved in the Shwe Gas Project are Daewoo International and Korea Gas Corporation. India’s consists of the Gas Authority of India and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

For more information, visit and

See also the letter to the South Korean President .