|Activists to urge Asia Development Bank to stop assisting Burma|
|Thursday, 03 May 2007 14:26|
During the 40th annual meeting of the board of governors of the Asian Development Bank in Kyoto, Japan, activists will urge it to stop providing technical assistance to Burma through its Greater Mekong Subregion programme.Representatives of the human rights group, Earthrights International, will meet ADB's board of governors during its May 4 to 7 annual meeting and urge it to seriously reconsider its involvement with Burma, said Naing Htoo, the Burma project coordinator of the ERI.
"The representatives will also urge the ADB to improve accountability, transparency, and protection to the people of Burma ," said Naing Htoo, declining, however, to mention when the representatives will meet the ADB officials.
Activists argued that, while the ADB has not given any new loans to Burma since 1986, its support to a range for regional projects under the Greater Mekong Subregion programme including the two controversial projects - the Asian Highway and the Ta Sang Dam on the Salween River - has accelerated abuses in the regions where they are being implemented.
Naing Htoo said, the Asian Highway under the East-West Economic Corridor initiative, and the Ta Sang Dam of the proposed Mekong Power Grid, have both resulted in a number of villages being relocated, severe forced labour, and confiscation of lands and farm areas for the project.
"In Southern Shan State, Burma , over 300,000 people have already been forcibly relocated from the Ta Sang dam area," ERI said in its press statement released today.
Chana Maung, ERI's Asia Director said, "if built, the Ta Sang dam will drive thousands more from their homes and will involve more forced relocations by the Burmese military. Increased militarization has already led to an increase in reports of torture, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights abuses in the Ta Sang area."
But, the ADB, which stopped giving new loans to Burma since 1986, denied providing funds for any kind of activity in Burma.
However, the ERI said, in 2002, an ADB funded grant specifically identified the Ta Sang Dam project to be a part of the Mekong Power Grid.
"We are requesting the ADB to withhold projects inside Burma until an accountable government is installed, or the ADB should think of a way to exclude Burma from the development projects," Naing Htoo said.
He said the implementation of these projects has already resulted in land confiscation, forced labour, and new roads used to deploy troops to further encroach into areas previously outside the junta's control.