Villagers claim Minister threatens to form militia to deal with protesting civil society groups

A group of environmental activists rode bikes from Rangoon to Dawei to show their support to the estimated 23,000 villagers about to be evicted to make way for the controversial $63 billion Dawei development project planned for the region.

Lwin Lwin from Tavoyan Voice, a community based group spoke to Karen News.

“14 people including a Tavoyan woman from the organisation, ‘Green Bike’ left Rangoon on 25th January and arrived five days later at Ka Loat Hta on the 30th January. They cycled for more than five days to get to the Na Bu Le area to listen to the people problems, their concerns, and find out what are the environmental impacts of the Dawei Development Project.”

Lwin Lwin said the cyclists who made the long trek were a mixed bunch.

“There was ethnic people, Burmese, Mon and others. They traveled to Ma Yin Gyi village and then onto Mawmagan beach.”

The Dawei Development Project includes a deep seaport, a light and heavy industrial zone, a coal-fired power plant and highways and railway links connecting Dawei to Kanchanaburi on the Thai border.

The Italian-Thai Development Company (ITD) is a Thai owned company, and the Thai government is responsible for developing the $60billion Dawei Development Project.

It is estimated that 17 villages and as many as 23,000 people will be relocated to three relocation sites – Bawah, Bagawzun and Pantin-inn.
Villagers claim that the deep seaport and industry zone will be built on land that belongs to the indigenous Tavoyan people living in Na Bu Le.

Villagers allege a Burma government minister, U Phone Swe, warned, during a meeting in Na Bu Le with local people in mid-January, that he will form a militia to deal with civil society groups trying to stop the Dawei Development Project.

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