Monday, June 15, 2009

South Korea Named in Complaint over Burma Gas Project

The Irrawaddy News

South Korea is being reported to the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OCED) for failing to properly investigate human rights allegations against Daewoo International and Korea Gas over the massive Burmese Shwe gas field development.

The two companies will be named in a report being presented to the OECD in Paris on Tuesday by two organizations that monitor human rights in Burma.

The South Korean government has failed to follow OECD guidelines for dealing with complaints, alleged EarthRights International and the Shwe Gas Movement.

They accuse the government of failing to properly investigate complaints under OECD procedure made by the two NGOs last year.

That complaint filed in the South Korean capital, Seoul, said, “human rights abuses have been perpetrated against local people opposing Daewoo’s Shwe Gas Project.”

It added that Daewoo’s links with a plan to construct a trans-Burma gas pipeline to China “poses an unreasonably high risk of more serious and widespread human rights and environmental impacts.”

Daewoo and Korean state-owned Korea Gas are among several foreign partners in a joint venture to develop the Shwe gas field off the coast of Arakan, which has proven recoverable reserves of at least 6 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Most of the gas has been sold China in a controversial deal that angered a number of other potential purchasers, from India to Japan.

In their complaint to the South Korean government last October, the two NGOs alleged that Daewoo and Korea Gas were in breach of six OECD guidelines by: “failing to respect human rights, contributing to forced labor, failing to promote sustainable development, failing to disclose information about the project, failing to consult with local populations and by failing to conduct an environmental impact assessment according to international standards.”

The South Korean government rejected the complaints, saying there was no case to answer.

However, in their new report published today and to be given directly to the OECD—of which South Korea is a member—the two NGOs said, “the ministry [Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy] tasked with receiving OECD complaints is the same ministry tasked with promoting overseas energy development projects and the same ministry that provided Daewoo a sizable loan to proceed with the Shwe project.”

The new report is being presented to the annual meeting of an OECD committee that monitors members’ compliance with corporate governance standards and national-level methods of checking complaints.

EarthRights International spokesman Matthew Smith said Monday, “the on-going abuses, and risk of future abuses, associated with this project are of the type that should lead to a serious investigation.”

The two NGOs say the Shwe gas field’s onshore developments have also resulted in forced relocations of people.

“The Shwe Project should stop until the people of Arakan State and Burma can genuinely participate in development decisions and realize their human rights,” said Wong Aung, a native of Arakan State and coordinator of the Shwe Gas Movement. “The Korean government conveniently dismissed our complaint and now the OECD must fill the gap.”

Initial work on the 1,000-kilometre pipeline from the Arakan coast to China’s Yunnan province capital of Kunming is likely to begin this year.

Another field development partner, India’s state owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, announced last week that the gas would start flowing in 2012.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too