New Rights Group Formed to Monitor Foreign-invested Development Projects
09 October 2011: A group of Arakanese leaders and activists based in Thailand holds an official ceremony in Mae Sot today to launch the first Arakanese human rights organisation, a new voice for their struggle.
The new body called ‘Arakan Human Rights and Development Organisation (AHRDO)’ will document human rights abuses facing the Arakanese people in Burma and promote their understanding of the issue.
A statement released on Friday said that AHRDO will inform the local and international communities about human rights abuses and the impacts of Burma’s government-initiated development projects with overseas investors in Arakan State.
The ongoing development projects include the Shwe Gas Pipeline Project, Kyaukphru Port, the Kaladan Project and several hydropower projects, for which hundreds of houses will be destroyed with the local people being forced to be internally displaced, according to the report.
Speaking to Chinland Guardian, the new Executive Director of AHRDO Mr. Aung Marm Oo said: “The authorities made their own decisions regarding these projects, ignoring the voices and situation of the local people. It is clear that the government is only interested in its own benefit and the development projects will have no benefit to the local people.”
AHRDO said development must be participatory, sustainable and beneficial.
“There is a lot of talk about progress in Burma, but we have seen little improvement in Arakan State where the majority of the population continues to live in poverty. We have established the AHRDO to help give our people a voice,” said Aung Marm Oo.
People in Arakan State, one of the most abused in Burma, still faces major social, economic, political and cultural oppression by the authorities.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang