EarthRights International's Burma Project collects vital on-the-ground information about the human rights and environmental situation in Burma. Since 1995, ERI has worked in Burma to monitor the impacts of the military regime's policies and activities on local populations and ecosystems. ERI's staff has gathered a vast body of valuable, rare information about the state of the military regime's war on its peoples and its environment. Through gathering testimonies, grassroots organizing, and distributing information through campaign work, the Burma Project has made a significant contribution to human rights and environment protection in Burma. Where possible, we link our grassroots fact-finding missions and community organizing with regional and international level advocacy and campaigning.
We work alongside affected community groups to prevent human rights and environmental abuses associated with large-scale development projects in Burma. Currently, the Burma Project focuses on large-scale dams, oil and gas development, and mining. We share experiences and resources with local communities, as well as provide assistance relevant to community needs. Over the past 10 years the Burma Project has raised awareness about the alarming depletion of resources in Burma and their relationship to a vast array of human rights abuses, as well as the local, national, and regional implications of these practices.
In Burma, mining occurs at small to large-scale levels involving a range of actors—multinational mining corporations, small local mining operations, and small-scale artisanal miners. Whether it be mining of gold, gemstones, copper, or any of the other plentiful mineral resources in Burma, mining in Burma accounts for widespread environmental degradation, and often occurs alongside basic human rights violations such as land confiscation, forced labor, the right to a healthy environment, and the right to water. The Burma Project monitors Burma’s mining sector, conducting research and fact finding that supports advocacy and campaign work, and explores possibilities for litigation. Currently, the Burma Project is monitoring the operations of the Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines Ltd.
The Burma Project is actively engaged in efforts to protect Southeast Asia’s longest free flowing river, the Salween River, from large-scale hydropower development. The Salween runs along the Thai-Burmese border and has more than thirteen indigenous and ethnic minority groups living in traditional communities along its banks. Working with the Salween Watch Coalition ERI collects on-the ground information from the proposed dam sites in Burma, and works to raise awareness about human rights abuses and environmental degradation that will accompany dam construction. ERI also works with Coalition members to stop planned dams on the upper Salween River in China (know as the Nu river.)
Oil & Gas Development
Burma’s oil and gas sector is associated with massive scale human rights abuses and environmental degradation. The Burma Project monitors Burma’s oil and gas sector, collecting difficult to obtain information from inside Burma on internationally financed oil and gas projects. We also conduct fact-finding and research, which informs campaigning at the local and international levels, and explore the possibilities of litigation against multinational corporations who partner with the junta. ERI is currently campaigning against the Shwe Gas Project.
International Financial Institutions
The Burma Project works to keep IFIs out of Burma and to prepare communities with a detailed understanding and critique of IFI approaches to development. We also join regional and international efforts to strengthen internal and external accountability mechanisms of the IFI’s including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and private banks. Currently, ERI is involved in ground level monitoring of the Asia Highway extension project in Burma which forms part of the ADB’s East West Economic Corridor Initiative.
Conflict and Natural Resources in Burma
The Burma Project conducts research and publishes reports on the relationship between Burma’s conflict and natural resource exploitation. Burma's many conflicts seem frustratingly intransigent, and it is the political, social, and military problems that have gained international attention. While much attention is rightfully paid to the violence and repression around these conflicts, much less is paid to ideas about the natural resources that fuel them – commonly terms “conflict resources.”
Earth Rights Promotion
The Burma Project conducts trainings and skill building activities for activists from Burma. These activities are designed to raise awareness and strengthen the capacity of communities to address the varied human rights dimensions of environmental degradation in Burma.