China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the country's state-owned oil giant, has said that the China-Myanmar gas pipeline, expected to benefit over 100 million people in the two countries, had begun full operations.
Ten residents of Maday Island in Kyaukphyu Township have been charged by local police for protesting against the oil and gas pipeline projects on the island without receiving official permission to hold a demonstration.
The 10 were among some 800 locals—including a number of workers from the pipeline project run by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)—who demonstrated on Thursday evening against CNPC, demanding that the Chinese company adheres to a list of demands regarding development of the island, as well as jobs and compensation for its residents.
“On Friday morning, 11 protesters were charged with holding a rally without a permit,” said Tun Kyi, the chairman of Maday Island Development Committee, speaking to Mizzima. “The police told us that three were from Kyauktan village, three were from Pyaing village, four from Ywar Ma and one from Pan Htain Sel.”
He said one of the names was later taken off the list because it was ascertained that he was not on Maday at the time of the protest.
The Maday Island Development Committee said that one day before the protest, on April 17, CNPC officials requested its workers to sign a pledge that they would not participate in the demonstration planned for the following day.
The Committee claims that more than 50 workers refused to sign the pledge and were subsequently dismissed from their jobs.
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About 800 residents of Maday Island in Kyaukphyu Township turned out on Thursday evening to protest against the gas and oil pipeline project that is backed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which recently opened an office in the area, according to the officials of Maday Island Development Committee.
“At 1:45 pm [on Thursday], the residents set off marching from the Buddhist monastery in Badain Village to the CNPC office,” said Committee chairman Tun Kyi. “As they marched, they chanted slogans such as: ‘We don’t want CNPC’; ‘We will not give away our lands just for the sake of the Chinese’; and so on. As far as I know, no arrests were made.”
Many of the protesters wore t-shirts that bore the image of Maday Island and, below the picture, the word ‘CNPC’ crossed out.
On December 14, 2012, and March 29, 2013, the residents submitted requests for permission to protest to the Kyaukphyu Township administrative office, but the office denied them permission, according to the Committee. On April 5, they filed an appeal to the Rakhine State Administrative Office, but were denied permission to hold a rally.
One of the protest leaders said, “We staged the protest because we want the world know about our troubles. If they [government, authorities, CNPC] fail to meet our demands, we will continue organizing demonstrations.”
The residents issued a list of nine demands: promote development on the island; pay compensations to the owners of confiscated lands; build roads linking ports in the area to villages; create jobs for locals; pay salaries on a par with international standards; provide electricity to the area; ensure security in the area; give permission to for fishermen to work freely; and guarantee that no more lands will be seized.
Maday Island is located just eight miles off the coast at Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State. A total of some 3,000 people live in the four villages on the island.
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The construction of the Kanbauk - Myaing Kalay - Hlawgar gas pipeline is now more than 70 percent complete.