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Abstract

This paper examines the Burmese military regime's pattern of human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and political dissidents in relation to natural gas and oil development projects. Through research in non-governmental agency reports, government statistics, academic journals, interviews, and corporate publications, I am investigating the extent to which the revenue generated from foreign direct investment in Burma supports and finances the military regime’s repression of Burmese citizens through further militarization of the state. Specifically, this paper highlights two case studies, the Yadana and Yetagun projects, as examples of the increased militarization and human rights abuses in the pipeline region. The country’s rich natural resource endowment and its strategic location between India and China and the Indian Ocean make Burma a strong target for continued foreign investment. Therefore, as it is unlikely that foreign investment in the natural gas and oil sectors in Burma will cease in the near future, I seek to draw attention to the flow of capital from these sectors within the country. Understanding the relationship between energy revenue and forced labor, relocation, portering and other human rights abuses is critical in evaluating the prospects for human security and stability in Myanmar. Unfortunately, I have found that competing external interests in Myanmar make any international attempt to influence change ineffective. Ultimately, any change that may come will need to be brought about by an internal force within the country.

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