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An umbrella group of Arakanese civic organisations, NGOs and political parties issued a statement on Monday demanding a halt to all natural resource extraction projects in Arakan state until a genuine federal system is implemented in Burma.
The statement follows a three-day workshop in Mrauk-U on 14-16 October hosted by the Natural Resources for the People (NRFP) group involving 55 representatives of diverse Arakanese organisations.
At the end of the workshop, the representatives signed a declaration calling for the following main points:
- The provision of a 24-hour supply of electricity from the newly operational Shwe Gas project in Kyaukphyu to all rural and urban areas across Arakan state at the same price as customers pay in Rangoon;
- An inclusion in the Burmese constitution that all natural resources in Arakan state “are controlled and managed by the Rakhine [Arakanese] people”;
- To stop immediately the following projects in Arakan state: Maday Deep Oil Seaport Project: Laymro Hydro Power Dam Project (Kyauk U): Kaladan Multi-Model Transit Transport Project: Titanium Mining Project: Large-scale production of marble mining project; Special Economic Zone projects; hotel and agriculture projects; Tha Htay Chaung Hydropower Dam Project; Ann Chaung Hydro Power Dam Project; and the Kyaukphyu-Kumin Railway Project;
- To postpone all natural resource extraction projects until a real federal system is granted;
- To give back lands confiscated by the military, cronies, and companies to the local owners;
- To immediately release activists who were imprisoned for their activism regarding natural resource extraction;
- To recognize and preserve Rakhine culture and historic infrastructure in line with UNESCO’s standards.
“Rakhine [Arakan] state is currently one of the least developed states and has the second largest poverty rate in Myanmar [Burma], even though it is rich in natural resources such as oil and gas, and minerals,” the statement said. “Currently, Shwe gas from Rakhine State is being exported to China, and mineral extraction projects, Special Economic Zone projects and hydropower projects are being implemented throughout Rakhine State. None of these projects have the consent of the Rakhine people.”