The Greening of a Dictatorship
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The Greening of a Dictatorship

By Zao Noam OCTOBER, 2004 - VOLUME 12 NO.9

(Page 2 of 4)


Since the KIO ceasefire in 1994, at least 10 Burma Army bases have been established in the area, which was seen by the regime as an important national security zone.


The “Northern Forest Complex” took further shape at the end of 2002, when the WCS secured Burmese government approval for Hponkhan Razi, a reserve that links Hkakaborazi to the Hukaung Valley in Kachin State.


The complex would be completed by the incorporation of Bhumba Bum in southeastern Kachin State, a project now under review.  The establishment of this protected area may also serve national security needs, since it justifies a Burmese military presence in the area.


Most recently, Burma’s Ministry of Forestry recommended the expansion of the Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Kachin State to include much of the Hukaung Valley to be designated as the country’s first tiger reserve, the largest of its kind in the world.


Such developments prompted Alan Rabinowitz of the WCS, in a recent article in National Geographic, to praise Burma’s apparent commitment to conservation and to hail the country as the most cooperative he had ever worked with. So why the unexpected conservation-military alliance in Burma?


Burma provides a powerful example of the strength of environmental rhetoric when even a brutal military dictatorship can appear committed to conservation.


The government profits financially and politically from “environmentalism” to enable violent exploitation of natural resources, forced resettlement and the seizure of ethnic minority-populated land rich in biodiversity by the military.


These conservation-military tactics have already been documented in Karen State, where in 1996 Rangoon—in cooperation with WCS and multinational oil companies—created Myinmoletkat Nature Reserve.

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