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Vast gas desposits off the coast of western Burma have proven a curse for the thousands of people deemed by the ruling junta to be standing in the way of its development. The construction of a multi-billion dollar pipeline connecting the Bay of Bengal gas fields to southwestern China has caused militarisation and displacement on an alarming scale, as the army looks to ‘secure’ the route and thus the capital generated from what is known as the Shwe Gas Project, little of which will benefit Burmese people.
Rights groups have warned of “systematic” and “shocking” human rights violations along the pipeline’s trajectory that include forced labour and forced displacement. Yet the Burmese government continues to aggressively expand its energy sector, with the vast majority of produce siphoned off to neighbouring countries. This, despite Burma suffering from daily power shortages.