Monday, January 5, 2009

Human Rights Abuse in Myanmar?

By David Watermeyer

It is tragic, yet sadly unsurprising, that the Korean government has rejected a serious complaint filed against Daewoo International and Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regarding their ``complicity in human rights abuses" in Myanmar (Burma) in the course of building a pipeline through the country.

``Burma'' is used here to show solidarity with those who denounce as nothing less than evil the actions of military junta who were responsible for naming the county Myanmar.

According to a news release put out by the Shwe Gas Movement (SGM), SGM global coordinator Wong Aung, a member of the Arakan ethnic group, through whose community the proposed pipeline will traverse, strongly criticized the Korean government's decision on Tuesday.

An extraction from the report says, ``The Korean government has decided to ignore the reality of major resource extraction projects in Myanmar and the specific devastating effects of the Shwe project on the people in the pipeline regions.

The Korean government has a responsibility under OECD guidelines. In rejecting the complaint they are abdicating their responsibility to investigate violations and mediate disputes in line with the guidelines; guidelines to which the have agreed to be obligated.''

All over the world people have watched in horror as atrocity after atrocity is committed by the military junta in that country, where unarmed Buddhist monks were gunned down like flies and rations from foreign countries after Cyclone Nargis devastated the country on May 3 meant for the starving millions by were blocked from delivery by this same military junta in an unspeakable act of callousness.

What is less known is how the junta continues to empower itself to rule over its people through dealings with various other countries and companies.

If these entities would not support the military junta but rather join the rest of the world in condemning and boycotting it, the tyrannical regime would not be able to continue.

The news release said, ``Daewoo International and the KOGAS have breached and will continue to breach a number of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises related to their activities in Burma (Myanmar)."

``These breaches are related to the companies' exploration, development, and operation of the natural gas project in Burma known as the Shwe Gas Project, meaning ``gold" in Burmese."

Few are unaffected by the trying economic times we are living in and that may play a part in why KOSGAS and Daewoo International, despite being told clearly at the highest level what is going on, appear to be paying no heed to the cries of the Myanmarese population.

But surely there are other options to explore than being complicit in evil.

David Watermeyer is a freelance writer residing in Seoul. He can be reached at The views expressed in the above article is those of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Korea Times.

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