Locals from Yinboat village in Dawei, Tanintharyi region have protested the building of a Chinese-backed oil refinery project.
Three hundred residents from the area gathered on September 24 with posters citing President Thein Sein’s speech and the principles laid down by the Myanmar Investment Commission which call for environmentally friendly investment.
“The employees working for us at the factory are people, not robots. If the poison gas comes out from the factory, the employees will be the ones who suffer first hand. I had health results for a number of employees who suffered respiratory tract infection,” said presiding monk from Lay Tun Khan monastery.
A precession began in Nyinmaw village and proceeded to Yinboat village which is due to be relocated when the project begins. The peaceful demonstrators hung posters at the entrance of the village road and listened to sermons given by monks. Residents voiced worries of oil spills and waste from the oil refinery.
The monk added that: “the villagers are now divided into two. Some accept the project, some have not. Those who agreed is because of the compensation money. But we cannot watch merely for the side of money. We have to look also for the bad consequences.”
The project is a joint venture between the Chinese company Guangdong Zhenrong Energy Co Ltd (GDZR), the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) and the Htoo Group of Companies.
GDZR has contributed 70 percent to the project while UMEHL and Htoo Group have contributed 20 percent and 10 percent respectively. The oil refinery aims to produce five million tons of oil per year and will import the necessary crude oil from the Middle East.
Jetties are being built to importing crude oil at Tesit and Sanhlan beaches in west of Nyinmaw village. It is estimated that 25,000 tons of waste will be produced from the refinery yearly.