In November last year, a report of the JICA Examiner’s investigation into the Thilawa SEZ was released. The Examiner concluded that JICA was “not in non-compliance” with its safeguard policies.
Three residents who submitted the official complaint and request for investigation, and who are directly affected by the Thilawa SEZ (having been relocated or facing relocation) disagreed with the conclusion and submitted comments to the Examiner regarding the report in December.
Some of the main points contained in the residents’ comments are as follows:
The residents found that the Examiner failed to sufficiently understand several important areas, though they welcomed his recommendations for ongoing stakeholder consultations. They urge the Examiner to read their comments and urge JICA to take immediate action.
Regarding Land Rights
JICA and the Examiner failed to independently examine land rights issues and simply believed the Myanmar government’s explanation.
Sewage at the Resettlement Site
Because the houses are at a lower level than the road, water flows and collects underneath the houses when it rains. Because toilets are located near the houses, the well water used for drinking is contaminated with bacteria from feces. (See photo 1 included at the end of the residents’s comments).
A member of the Thilawa Social Development Group (TSDG) took water samples from all 7 water pumps and wells installed by the government to the Ministry of Health in Yangon, where it was tested. All samples were found bacteriologically unsafe. Bacteria from human feces was found at levels higher than Ministry of Health standards, and therefore declared to be unfit for human consumption.
Coercion by Authorities
The Examiner concluded that “It is difficult to acknowledge that the Myanmar Government publicly and systematically used force or threats.” According to an American NGO survey, however, reports that of 29 households interviewed, 93% reported feeling threatened and therefore unable to refuse to move. The Examiner should not take this information lightly.
Comments in their entirety can be seen by downloading the report from the link below: