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Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Deep Sea port, Tanintharyi, Myanmar

“Dawei society’s land and livelihoods, shared histories and traditions, ecologies and cultures, and ability to build common futures are all under threat,” [1] says a large CSO coalition demanding the halt of the controversial project


The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and deep-sea port, if realized, would be one of the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. Since the beginning, the project has fueled massive concerns by many local communities as well as Myanmar and Thai civil society groups, who have documented the social and environmental impacts and implications of the mega-project in several reports (see “Voices from the Ground” by the Dawei Development Association (DDA) [2], and “Our lives not for sale” by the Tavoyan Women Union (TWU)[3]).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Deep Sea port, Tanintharyi, Myanmar
State or province:Tanintharyi
Location of conflict:Dawei
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Chemical industries
Ports and airport projects
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Thermal power plants
Metal refineries
Land acquisition conflicts
Manufacturing activities
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Manufactured Products
trade and logistics services
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar, is one of three planned SEZs in Myanmar. The other two are Thilawa SEZ in Southern Yangon and Kyaukphyu SEZ in Rakhine.

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Project area:20,451
Level of Investment for the conflictive project50,000,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:22,000-43,000 directly affected
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited (Italthai) from Thailand
Dawei Development Company Ltd. (DDC) from Myanmar - construction services
Max Myanmar Holding Co., Ltd. from Myanmar - construction services, shareholder until 2012
Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company from Myanmar - project developer
Dawei SEZ Development Company Ltd from Myanmar - project developer
Myandawei Industrial Estate Company Ltd. (MIE) (MIE) from Myanmar - project developer
Rojana Industrial Park Public Company Ltd from Thailand - project developer
LNG Plus International Company Ltd. from Thailand - project developer
Environmental Resource Management (ERM ) - EIA consultant
Relevant government actors:Government of Myanmar
Government of Thailand
Government of Japan
International and Finance InstitutionsJapan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (JICA) from Japan
Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) (JBIC) from Japan
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Civil Society Organizations that signed the 2018 statement on the project
1. Dawei Development Association (DDA)
2. Dawei ProBono Lawyer Network (DPLN)
3. Tavoyan Women’s Union (TWU)
4. Tanintharyi River Indigenous People Network (TRIP-NET)
5. Community Sustainable Livelihoods and Development (CSLD)
6. Rays of Kamoethway Indigenous People and Nature (RKIPN)
7. Paung Ku
8. Progressive Voice
9. Community Response Group (ComReG)
10. IFI Watch Myanmar
11. Myanmar China Pipeline Watch Committee
12. Andin Youth Group, Pharlain Community
13. Capacity Building for Youth (Mon, Karen, Dawei)
14. Farmers and Landworkers Union (Myanmar)
15. Environmental Conservation and Farmer Development Organization (Shan)
16. ကမ္းေျခအားမာန္ ေရလုပ္သားဖြံ႔ၿဖိဳးတိုးတက္ေရးအဖြဲ႕
17. Thanphyuzayut Mon Youth
18. Belin Network
19. Pyar Taung Social Development
20. သင္႔ျမတ္လိုသူမ်ား၏ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးလမ္းစဥ္အဖြဲ႕ (POPP)
21. Action Groups for Farmers Affairs
22. ေရႊျခေသ့ၤလူမႈေစာင့္ေ႐ွာက္ေရးအဖြဲ႔(ေ႐ွြဘို).
23. ေရႊျခေသ့ၤေတာင္သူကြန္ရက္(ေရႊဘိုခ႐ိုင္)
24. တြံေတးကြန္ယက္
25. Bedar
26. Shwe Maw Won
27. Thilawa Social Development Group
28. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability ( Mandalay Regional Working Group)
29. The Mekong Butterfly
30. Community Resource Center Foundation (CRC)
31. Spirit in Education Movement (SEM)
32. Extra Territorial Obligation Watch (ETO Watch)
33. EarthRights International (ERI)
34. Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH)
35. Focus on the Global South
36. Land Watch Thai
37. Global Forest Watch
38. Fauna & Flora International
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Ethnic Karen and Tavoyan
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Soil erosion
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Militarization and increased police presence, Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsmassive rise in land prices, related speculation and squeezing out of farmers and villagers from the area [e].
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Institutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Women were harassed and threatened with sexual violence after publishing their report on the impacts on women [9]
Proposal and development of alternatives:The CSO coalition that signed the statement in 2018 argues that the development of alternative development strategies must not be based on top-down planning of dirty industries that only benefit a few economic, political and military elites. Strategies should be based on sustainable small-scale agriculture, fisheries, customary forestry and community-based tourism [1]. “These practices provide livelihoods and maintain the environment for the vast majority of people in Dawei. They support social solidarity, and forms of life that question the assumption that modern industry and market capitalism are the natural end points for all societies” [1, page 2].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The project was suspended several times and has provoked a strong civil society response. However, plans are made to continue the project
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

2016 Myanmar Investment Law
[click to view]

2011 Dawei Special Economic Zone Law
[click to view]

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

2012 Farmland Law
[click to view]

2014 Myanmar Special Economic Zone Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

2014 Environmental Conservation Rules
[click to view]

2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law
[click to view]

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Dawei Development Association (DDA), 2014 "Voices from the Ground". Concerns over the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Related Projects. (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[3] Tavoyan Women Union (TWU), 2014 "Our lives not for sale - Tavoyan women speak out against the Dawei Special Economic Zone project". (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[7] Paung Ku and Transnational Institute, September 2012. "Land Grabbing in Dawei (Myanmar/Burma): a (Inter)National Human Rights Concern" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[1] Statement on government plans to resume the Dawei special economic zone (SEZ) project, Dawei, Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar, February 20, 2018 (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[4] The Myanmar Times, 22 Feb 2018. "Dawei SEZ is for the few, not the many" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[5] Wikipedia on the Dawei Port Project (accessed on 26.10.2018).
[click to view]

[6] Mekong Watch, 10 November 2016. "Fact Sheet Project Name: Myanmar/Burma: Dawei Special Economic Zone Development Project" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[8] The Myanmar Times, 19 Feb 2018. "Dawei SEZ’s grave human rights violations, forced evictions and flawed EIAs come under fire" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[9]Tavoyan Women's Union, Press Release, 25 February, 2015. "Women Activists Facing Harassment by Proponents of Dawei Special Economic Zone" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[10] The Irrawaddy, 21 October 2014. "Thai Human Rights Commission Hears Concerns About Dawei SEZ" (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[11] The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, 23 November 2015. "Report of the consideration No. 1220/2558. Community rights: the case of Dawei Deep Seaport and Special Economic Zone Project in Myanmar which Thailand has signed the MoU to co-develop and it has violated the human rights of Dawei people". (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[12] Earthrights International. "Dawei Special Economic Zone: one of the largest planned industrial zones in Southeast Asia could harm tens of thousands of people." (accessed on 09.01.2019).
[click to view]

[13] Bangkok Post, 4 Feb 2021. Coup puts Dawei talks in holding pattern (accessed on 29.10.2021)
[click to view]

[14] Mongabay, 23 August 2021, Deforestation surge continues amid deepening uncertainty in Myanmar (accessed on 29.10.2021)
[click to view]

Project homepage, by Myandawei Industrial Estate Co. Ltd (accessed on 09.10.2019)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

DDSP Project and Local Villagers' Desire (Eng)
[click to view]

Other comments:For a further list of media reports on the issue, see Wikipedia on the Dawei Special Economic Zone (
Meta information
Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update09/01/2019
Conflict ID:3492
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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