SOUTH KOREA/BURMA: South Korean corporate and government should not exploit Burma's liberal movement
We wish to share with you the following joint statement from a group of Korean NGOs.
For inquiries, please contact to Mr. Na Hyun Phil from Korean House for International Solidarity by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). For Koreans, please follow the link.
Asian Human Rights Commission
A Statement from Korean NGOs forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission
Recently the movements such as nomination Aung San Suu Kyi, in Burma election have shown positive progressive movement of democratization in Burma. However, even after the official liberalization, it is still plausible to say that Burma is still being controlled by military authorities with an iron fist. Even if the military is still occupying Burma and many people were struggling to promote democracy in the past, the movement could have had a positive progress due to people's aspiration and effort for the country's liberalization.
However, the Korean society is not completely welcoming Burma's democratization process. According to the recent press, EU, US and Japanese Corporate are showing interest in heavily investing in Burma as they fear that they had lost the Burma market to other countries such as China, Korea, and India during the government modification. As Burma government stated that it would step back from liberalization and human rights issues, the multinational corporate are willing to take advantage of the country as their enormous field of competition. Therefore, the already existing infringement of human rights and environment from development exploitation, corruption of multinational corporate and labor repression will be even more applied and worsened.
Even if a country has certain standard of democracy, 99 percent of the people are suffering from constant economic struggles due to today's Neo-liberalism economic structure which only protects the economic benefits of corporate. For Burma, it is nearly impossible for the country which has recently been in the process of democratization to stand up against the exploitation of such enormous corporate. The Korean society has acknowledged this phenomenon through the investment of Korean enterprise.
As Burma became known for a country worth investing with the protection of its own government, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and many Korean companies are promoting Myanmar-Korea Economic Forum in April 6. Also, South Korean government has announced it will be providing ODA to Burma in a form of "Saemaul undong(New Village Movement)" for rural development system and also advise active investment. However, Daewoo International and Korean Gas Corporation's gas development of gas pipeline construction across Burma to China has started and the infringement of human rights is already being brought to the surface. In January 2010, Korean apparel factories on industrial zone in Langoon had labor strikes against the brutal working conditions. Last year, a company called KMDC announced their huge Burma Gas Development project, bringing political controversy.
The multinational enterprise's insensitive investments without considering the rights of laborers and inhabitants are also a serious issue. Burma Environmental Working Group (www.bewg.org) is presenting a statement which claims that the investment should follow the boundaries of human rights and environment protection.
Until the citizens of Burma can freely choose the government which can independently represent the citizens, the investment made to the country needs to be more considerate and sensitive to the issue of human rights and environment protection. Over the years, Burma has already suffered because of the militaristic government and its protected multinational corporate. By exploiting the fact that Burma is slowly being democratized, South Korean government and enterprises should not agonize and burden the Burma citizens with indiscreet investment.
We demand the following:
1. Before South Korean enterprises invest in Burma, they must fairly and transparently proceed human rights and environmental impact assessment
2. South Korean enterprises investing in Burma must follow the international standard such as OECD MNE guideline or ILO Labor Standards.
3. In the process of natural resource development, human rights infringement such as forced eviction or forced labor must not be participated.
4. South Korean government needs to prepare a countermeasure to prevent and protect in case of environment and human right violation by Korean enterprises investing in Burma
5. For ODA of South Korea, government must establish standards which protect human rights and environment.
April 9 2012
1. Democratic Legal Studies Association
2. Human Rights Education Center, DEUL
3. Imagination For International Solidarity
4. Korean House for International Solidarity
5. Korean Public Interest Lawyers' Group
6. National Association of Professors for Democratic Society
7. Network for Glocal Activism
8. Palestine Peace Solidarity
9. People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
10. People's Solidarity for Social Progress