Gas pipeline causes 'shocking, systemic violations'

May 8, 2009 (DVB), The maintenance of a 180-mile gas pipeline that cuts through three states in southern Burma is responsible for human rights violations described as "systemic, shocking and ongoing," in a report released on Wednesday.

The state-owned Kanbauk to Myaing Kalay pipeline runs through northern Tenasserim division, southern Mon state and in Karen state.

More than 15,000 acres of land have been confiscated by the army in order to make way for its construction, say the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) in their report, 'Laid Waste: Human Rights Along the Kanbauk to Myaing Kalay gas pipeline'.

"Residents from many villages alongside of it, were subjected to land confiscation and forced labour due to its construction," said Nai Kasauh Mon, director of HURFOM.

The report documents the intense militarization of the area following the pipeline's construction, alleging that it is responsible for abuses including rape and summary execution.

It's publication comes at a pressing time, as the United States and European Union renew sanctions against the regime whilst its Asian neighbours ramp up economic support and investment in the country.

"Intense competition for access to Burma's abundant natural resources continues, with China recently agreeing to purchase gas that will be transported 1,200 miles across Burma," it says.

Burma has vast offshore natural gas reserves. The ruling State Peace and Development Council recently signed a deal with China to pump gas to its energy-hungry population, despite the deal receiving widespread criticism.

"The energy resources are not used for Burma but sold to a foreign country," said Ko Kin, spokesperson of the Shwe Gas Movement, which campaigns against the Burmese government's sale of natural gas to foreign countries.

"Farmlands on the way will be confiscated. More troops will be stationed for the pipeline's security."

Reporting by Nay Say Phaw

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