About 800 residents of Maday Island in Kyaukphyu Township turned out on Thursday evening to protest against the gas and oil pipeline project that is backed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which recently opened an office in the area, according to the officials of Maday Island Development Committee.
“At 1:45 pm [on Thursday], the residents set off marching from the Buddhist monastery in Badain Village to the CNPC office,” said Committee chairman Tun Kyi. “As they marched, they chanted slogans such as: ‘We don’t want CNPC’; ‘We will not give away our lands just for the sake of the Chinese’; and so on. As far as I know, no arrests were made.”
Many of the protesters wore t-shirts that bore the image of Maday Island and, below the picture, the word ‘CNPC’ crossed out.
On December 14, 2012, and March 29, 2013, the residents submitted requests for permission to protest to the Kyaukphyu Township administrative office, but the office denied them permission, according to the Committee. On April 5, they filed an appeal to the Rakhine State Administrative Office, but were denied permission to hold a rally.
One of the protest leaders said, “We staged the protest because we want the world know about our troubles. If they [government, authorities, CNPC] fail to meet our demands, we will continue organizing demonstrations.”
The residents issued a list of nine demands: promote development on the island; pay compensations to the owners of confiscated lands; build roads linking ports in the area to villages; create jobs for locals; pay salaries on a par with international standards; provide electricity to the area; ensure security in the area; give permission to for fishermen to work freely; and guarantee that no more lands will be seized.
Maday Island is located just eight miles off the coast at Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State. A total of some 3,000 people live in the four villages on the island.
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