Saw Paul Sein Twa: +66817247093 / +9594220057195 (Karen or English)
Naw Susanna Hla Hla Soe: +959250795258 (Burmese, Karen or English)
JAPANESE PUSH FOR DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTHEAST MYANMAR RISKS WORSENING CONFLICT, SAYS KAREN PEACE SUPPORT NETWORK
YANGON (5 Sep 2014) — A Japanese-supported blueprint for economic development in Southeast Myanmar is premature and flawed, and it could worsen conflict in the region, according to a network of nearly 30 ethnic Karen organizations.
WHAT: Karen Peace Support Network press conference
WHERE: Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN) office; No.181, second floor (Left), 36th street, Bt; Anawyahtar and Mahar Bandula road, Yangon.
WHEN: Tuesday September 9, 2014; 1-3 pm
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has conducted a study of development options in Karen and Mon States, recommending large-scale development such as roads, industrial estates and rubber plantations. The plan’s stated aim is to facilitate the return and resettlement of refugees, but no consultations have been held with refugees or civil society.
The Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN), the largest network of Karen civil society groups, calls on the Japanese government to reform its plan and way of doing business, offering concrete recommendations for engaging with the people of Southeast Myanmar.
“It is indeed dangerous to ignore the underlying causes of conflict in the region and to invest money or technical support without consulting communities or paying heed to their concerns,” says the KPSN critique of JICA’s blueprint. “A development strategy lacking a strong foundation of sound information from diverse sources – including critical analysis – cannot possibly lead to sustainable development. A more likely outcome is increased conflict: if this JICA blueprint becomes a means to strengthen centralized government structures while ignoring local ethnic participation, it will fuel the ongoing conflict rather than help support a sustainable peace.”
The JICA blueprint is officially called the Preparatory Survey for the Integrated Regional Development for Ethnic Minorities in the South-East Myanmar: Final Report. It is intended to guide Japanese investment in Karen and Mon States. JICA held no consultations with these organizations, despite claims that its approach to development would be inclusive and people-centered.
“We welcome the efforts of the Japanese people and other international organizations to contribute to our communities, which have been struggling with oppression and dispossession for generations. But we have serious reservations concerning JICA’s blueprint,” says KPSN.
The Media Advisory is also available in Burmese here