Switching on one of those lights cost a life in Burma!


Switching on one of those lights cost a life in Burma!

Twenty percent of all electricity in Thailand is generated from natural gas from Burma. One fifth of your electricity bill (or if you are a tourist, the hotel’s electricity bill) is supporting a regime which has beaten, relocated, killed and disappeared thousands of monks, nuns and other peaceful demonstrators in the last month. Not to mention the human rights abuses it has committed in the last twenty years against the ethnic populations of Burma.

The natural gas for which Thailand pays $2.8billion is the largest single contributor to the Burmese economy, and accounts for more than 40% of the country’s total exports for the year. The cash has allowed the generals to buy weapons from China, helicopters from India and order a nuclear test reactor from Russia. It is has also funded the building of Naypidaw, new fortress capital for the generals, far away from the discontent of civilians in Rangoon.

The pipeline which brings the natural gas to power stations in Thailand was built 10 years ago by Total, the French oil company, Unocal, the American oil company, which has since been absorbed by Chevron and PTT Exploration and Production, the Thai oil company.

PTT Exploration and Production released a press statement on September 26th 2007 to say that it was “closely monitoring the situation in Burma and would like to report that the production of natural gas is continuing at the normal rate. Yadana Project is producing about 650 million cubic feet of gas per day while Yetagun Project is producing 430. Exploration work at M9 Block is also progressing normally. In addition, PTTEP maintains procedures to respond to different situations…to ensure that PTTEP personnel work in a reasonably comfortable and safe environment.” Meanwhile on the same day in Burma, the military regime started its crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators. Thousands of monks and peaceful protestors had defied government orders to stay at home, and faced truck loads of troops surrounding monasteries and pagodas. Riot police charged the crowds, beating up monks and nuns. That night, the military forcefully entered the monks sleeping quarters, ransacked the monasteries and took the monks away. These midnight raids on monasteries and private homes continue today. In defiance of a UN Security council statement, the regime has announced that it will continue to arrest anyone they suspect. They have admitted to detaining at least 3,000 peaceful protesters. The usually busy monasteries are nearly empty and nobody knows where the monks and nuns are. PTTEP may be comfortable and safe, but no-one else in Burma is.

Write to Thai Energy Minister Piyasavati Amranand or to PTT Exploration and Production to call on Thailand to stop investing in Burma and to use their economic leverage to bring about political change in Burma.

Remember every fifth time you switch on a light in Thailand you are buying a bullet for the regime in Burma!

[Lanna Action for Burma 21st October 2007 http://lannaactionforburma.blogspot.com]

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