"Who's uncivilised after all?" CSOs challenge KurodaPublished by MAC on 2007-05-04
"Who's uncivilised after all?" CSOs challenge Kuroda
by Press Release: NGO FOrum on Asia Development Bank
4th May 2007
Kyoto, Japan – Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) challenged the ADB to cancel its 'uncivilized' projects and address outstanding social and environmental issues at this year's ADB Annual Governors Meeting, in response to President Kuroda's request that CSOs express their views in a civilized way.
For the last 40 years, the ADB has repeatedly failed in its anti-poverty mission and has created more harm than good for the citizens and ecosystems of Asia and the Pacific, according to NGO Forum on ADB and partner organizations. CSOs and project-affected peoples called on the ADB for greater reforms and justice in the Bank's operations.
There is a wide gap between the ADB's stated goal and what has been happening on the ground, according to NGO Forum on ADB. The ADB's own Operations and Evaluation Department reports that the Bank's projects displace between 100,000 and 150,000 people in the region every year. In spite of its 40 year existence, over 700 million Asians continue to live in poverty.
CSOs had been told prior to the meeting by the ADB that protests, petitioning and distributing leaflets in the conference center were not permitted. Ms. Ana Maria R. Nemenzo of the Freedom from Debt Coalition told President Kuroda, "CSOs bring forth a multitude of issues and grievances as experienced by people using a variety of approaches and actions that are part of the democratic exercise of their freedom of speech and expression. We register our strong protest over rules that will curtail this freedom."
Ms. Maliwan Nakwirot, a representative of local affected communities of the Mae Moh Coal Power Project in Thailand presented 3 death certificates and 300 medical certificates to President Kuroda of those community members affected by the project, and asked for a minutes silence in the meeting to pay tribute to those who had passed away.
Ms. Maliwan told President Kuroda, "The ADB has totally ignored social, health and environmental damages to more than 7000 households. At least 80% of the 20,000 residents have been suffering from chronic respiratory syndrome". She added, "It does not make common sense for the ADB to say that it has nothing to do with the project since the loan was disbursed 15 years ago. This is not civilized."
Professor Anu Mohammed of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports questioned President Kuroda on the ADBs continued support to the Phulbari Coal Project in Bangladesh.
"When experts gave their strong opinion against the project terming it anti-people, anti-employment and anti-biodiversity, why is the ADB still supporting the project and behaving like a corporate lobbyist of companies such as the British-based Asia Energy Corporation?", questioned Mohammed. Thousands of project-affected groups mobilised a massive protest against the project in August 2006; the resultant police firing left 3 dead and over 200 injured. The controversial open pit mining project is expected to contaminate 600 km2 of water bodies and displace over 200,000 people from their livelihoods.
Ms. Kalia Moldogazieva submitted a petition signed by six Central Asian CSOs to President Kuroda, raising concerns over water supply projects in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program, resident missions, country strategy papers and the accreditation process for the ADB AGM.
Ms. Chinn Sin, an affected person from the ADB's highway one project in Cambodia, told President Kuroda, "Poverty, indebtedness and livelihood insecurities have risen dramatically in our community". After the meeting she reflected "The President's response in solving these problems was not clear. We want clear direct action from the ADB immediately"
Commenting on President Kuroda's references to ADB's safeguard policies and the ongoing review process, Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of NGO Forum on ADB, said, "The on-going review of the ADB Safeguard Policies is the Bank's way of weakening them and giving way to the pressure coming from its borrowing countries. Weakening the Safeguards would make the ADB and its borrowing countries less accountable to socio-economic harm and environmental damage caused by its funded projects". The ADB Safeguards presently under review are the Environment, Indigenous Peoples and Involuntary Resettlement Policies.
During the AGM, Governors from the Bank's 68 member-countries discuss the direction of the ADB and its policies and projects. Traditionally, CSOs and other stakeholders present their issues and grievances to top ADB officials about the ADB's contentious policies, programs and projects in Developing Member Countries (DMCs).
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