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Environmental Devastation Unchecke

/* Written  9:49 AM  Sep  1, 1994 by gn:article19 in igc:article19.burm */
/* ---------- "Environmental Devastation Unchecke" ---------- */
The 1988 coup in Burma, which ended the first hope of democracy
in decades, ushered in an era of enhanced repression. Previously
isolated for thirty years, Burma suffered from political
stagnation and repression, as well as underdevelopment. Change
is now catching up with Burma; ARTICLE 19's new report "Paradise
Lost?", written by Martin Smith, examines the plight of the
environment in a country where the government's partnership with
international business interests is unchecked by popular will.
In a country where all dissent is stifled, no voices can be
raised to protect Burma's heritage of natural and cultural
The prizes are great. Burma has timber, natural gas, undepleted
fishing stocks, rare animals and unique tourist attractions.
The exploitation of this potential wealth has been brutal,
creating new categories of displaced persons. Land has been
seized for road building and government projects, often with the
mass use of forced labour. Forests have been felled, causing
erosion and floods. Areas near to ancient temples have been
ruthlessly cleared of their inhabitants, so as not to spoil a
valuable tourist attraction.
These phenomena have implications outside Burma: refugees have
fled to Thailand, Bangladesh and other countries, and flooding
has affected the border areas of neighboring states. In border
areas, unchecked logging and poaching has had a devastating
impact. Though damaging to the region as a whole, there are
potential profits to the exploitation of Burmese natural
resources: the Thai and Burmese governments are currently
planning the construction of hydro-electric dams. No studies are
in prospect for considering the hazards of these projects, such
as water diversion, silting and the loss of fisheries.
ARTICLE 19's Executive Director, Frances D'Souza comments:
"Resolving Burma's political crisis is the pre-condition for
environmental protection. Appropriate choices for development
cannot be made when the population lacks means of voicing its
Consult our GreenNet Conference (article19.burma) for more
information about the campaign, future reports and articles,
urgent actions, appeal letters strategic lobbying.
"Paradise Lost? The Suppression of Environmental Rights and
Freedom of Expression in Burma". (36pp, 3.99)
Previous publications 
"State of Fear: Censorship in Burma" (December 1991, 120pp.,
"Our Heads are Bloody but Unbowed - Suppression of Educational
Freedoms" (December 1992 First copy free of charge, additional
copies 1 each)
All available from ARTICLE 19
For further information contact:
Catherine Drucker 
E-Mail Number: article19@xxxxxxxxxx
Tel: 071 278 9292 or Fax: 071 713 1356
Lancaster House
33 Islington High Street
London N1 9LH
ARTICLE 19 is an international human rights organization which
promotes freedom of expression and campaigns on behalf of victims
of censorship throughout the world. It takes its name and mandate
from the nineteenth Article of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights which states:
      "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
     expression; this right includes freedom to hold
     opinions without interference and to seek, receive and
     impart information through any media and regardless of