In June 2011, KESAN's Director attended an academic symposium in Hong Kong on political changes in Burma.  At this conference, academia, scholars, and representatives of CBOs from Burma, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.S. and Europe discussed the recent political changes in Burma.  However, noticeably absent from this discussion were ethnic CBOs and their voices on what is happening in ethnic areas with regards to political change.

 

KESAN's Director was the only representative from the border regions.  He was able to provide critical on-the-ground information about how these political changes have unfolded, especially the continued denial of human rights abuses and violations brought on by Chinese-financed mega-development projects in ethnic areas, such as the Shwe Gas Pipeline and hydropower dams.

KESAN's Director also went on an advocacy trip in September 2011 to Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands to inform foreign diplomats, INGOs, and Burma campaign groups that the political changes in Burma are not trickling down to the grassroots level and local people, and that in fact the situation in some areas of the border regions has actually worsened due to armed conflicts. He also raised the issue of the loosening/removal of the U.S. and EU's economic sanctions and what impact this would have on large-scale development projects in ethnic areas.  He emphasized that a proper understanding of the true costs of this kind of "development" must be taken into consideration if the international community genuinely wants to reduce human rights abuses against ethnic peoples in conflict areas.