On April 2017, Mekong Watch submitted a petition to JICA regarding the Tanintharyi Region Development Plan. An English translation is provided here.
In April, JICA was accepting bids from consultants to conduct the “Data Collection Survey for the Tanintharyi Region Development Plan.” Mekong Watch is concerned that JICA will fail to take the concerns of local people and civil society into consideration. Failure to do so has already been seen in a related study, the “Data Collection Survey for the Southern Economic Corridor in Myanmar, Final Report (September 2016)”. In spite of NGOs and local people voicing concerns, and a report and recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, these concerns were not reflected in the 2016 report, and JICA claimed having had no knowledge of the NHRC’s recommendations. Mekong Watch wants to ensure that the same mistakes to not happen with the Data Collection Survey for the Thanintharyi Region Development Plan, which includes the Dawei SEZ.
Mekong Watch made the following demands to JICA:
- JICA is currently holding a bidding process to conduct the “Data Collection Survey for the Tanintharyi Region Development Plan.” In order to ensure that this Data Collection Survey complies with the spirit of the Guidelines, first disclose information to the residents and local civil society groups, and listen to their opinions about the project. In the bidding announcement for this survey, one of the stipulations is, “based on regional development of the Tanintharyi Region, collect and analyze basic information towards regional development that values the perspective of benefiting local residents.” To do this, it is essential to understand what kind of development local communities think is necessary and hope to see. In addition, there are already cases of opposition from residents in the Tanintharyi Region towards development plans such as those related to the DSEZ, mining, and coal-fired power plants. To make future development plans for this region, it is necessary to be fully aware of this situation.
- In the case of the Southern Economic Corridor, a project that aims to construct a highway that will connect large cities to an SEZ with port facilities, it is likely that people living in the mountainous rural villages will feel more negative impacts to their livelihoods than positive ones. Construction of access roads by ITD has already led to human rights violations and environmental problems. JICA should do what is necessary to understand the existing problems and make proposals that include recommendations to resolve these problems.
- JICA must become accountable to local residents and local civil society groups for the Report, “Data Collection Survey for the Southern Economic Corridor in Myanmar: Final Report.” In order to collect a wider range of opinions, it is important to translate the Report into Burmese and Karen, and disclose them in forms accessible to local residents.
- JICA should listen to the opinions of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and stakeholders including civil society groups such as NGOs in Myanmar and Thailand.
Please see the letter itself for more details.