S. Sivaraksa

Yadana Pipeline Protest Case Dismissed
August 30, 2006, 6:21 am
Filed under: Engaged Spirituality, Environment, Human Rights, Non-Violence

Yadana Pipeline Protest Case Dismissed
By Sai Silp
August 18, 2006

The case against prominent Thai social activist Sulak Sivaraksa, accused with other protestors six years ago of disrupting the building of a gas pipeline crossing part of Burma, has been dismissed by Thailand’s criminal court.

Sulak was charged with obstructing the pipeline when it was being built in 1998. It now transmits gas from the Yadana field in Burmese offshore waters to Thai power plants, via Mon and Karen areas. The pipeline was being built by state-controlled oil ands gas conglomerate PTT, formerly the Petroleum Authority of Thailand.

Sulak said the outcome was a victory for justice of sorts, but the issues of compensation for villagers in Burma whose land was taken and the misuse of the income from the gas by the Burmese regime remained unanswered.

“The pipeline project has not provided benefit for local people both Thai and Burma,” he told The Irrawaddy on Friday. “It is a shameful project. The Thai government has to pay US$ 400 million per year to the Burmese government and they use this money to abuse and threaten ethnic people in their country.”

The case was dropped because the law under which Sulak was charged related to the former state-owned Petroleum Authority of Thailand which had since been partially privatized as PTT plc.

PTT implied that it might still pursue Sulak. “We have not decided yet whether to move on in the legal process or not. [PTT] executives will discuss the matter after we have got the official report from Office of the Attorney General,” a company legal department spokesman said.

It is widely known that much of the income from Burma’s gas, which now totals about US $1 billion from Thailand alone, goes to buy military equipment and weapons. Activists say this helps the junta harass ethnic groups opposed to the regime.

Sulak Sivaraksa is a high profile social commentator and environmental campaigner. In 2005, was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for his social work among Thai communities, including the Assembly of the Poor, indigenous peoples and Buddhist groups.

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