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Illegal logging in Sagaing region - Killing of journalist Soe Moe Tun, Myanmar

Sagaing region has one of the highest deforestation rates in Myanmar. In December 2016, journalist Soe Moe Tun was found beaten to death while he was reporting on logging issues in Monywa, the area’s commercial hub


Myanmar remains one of the countries with the most extensive forests in Asia after being isolated for decades from a big part of the international trade. Today, forty-five percent of the country is still forested, according to official statistics, and a quarter of that is primary forest. However, the country also has one of the fastest deforestation rates in the region [1] that has increased since the country opened up to foreign investment.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Illegal logging in Sagaing region - Killing of journalist Soe Moe Tun, Myanmar
State or province:Sagaing region
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Sagaing region lost 279,861 hectares or 8,06 percent of its forested area between 2002 and 2014.

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5,325,000
Start of the conflict:01/03/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Myanma Timber Enterprise from Myanmar - Operator
Relevant government actors:Ministry Of Natural Resources And Environmental Conservation of Myanmar, Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environmental Investigation Agency (, Forest Trends (
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:NGOs are demanding for the law to be implemented and the protected areas to be respected.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Deforestation is still happening in the region and no justice has been served in the case of the journalist killed
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

1992 Forest Law
[click to view]

2012 Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land Management Bill
[click to view]

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

UNODC report, Criminal justice response to wildlife and forest crime in Myanmar. A rapid assessment, November 2015
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Illegal loggers get an easy ride in Sagaing, Myanmar times, January 26 2014
[click to view]

[5] 170 tonnes of timber seized in Sagaing, Eleven Myanmar, February 25 2017,
[click to view]

[1] Karen National Union soldiers join forces with villagers to fight illegal logging, South China Morning Post, Nov 7 2015
[click to view]

[10] Government Orders Cut in Teak Production, Bans Private Timber Operations, The Irrawaddy, January 29, 2018
[click to view]

[2] Timber Trade Flows and Actors in Myanmar: The Political Economy of Myanmar’s Timber Trade, Forest Trends, November 2013
[click to view]

[7] Myanmar reporter who covered logging industry found beaten to death, Reuters, December 13, 2016
[click to view]

[9] MIC suspends new investments in timber businesses, Myanmar Times, Nov 23, 2017
[click to view]

[11] The Potential for the EITI to Bring Transparency to the Forestry Sector in Myanmar, Forest Trends, January 22, 2018
[click to view]

[4] Myanmar’s forests still being illegally logged and shipped to India, China, despite government ban, AP, September 2, 2016
[click to view]

[6] Another victim of illegal logging and forest crime? Environmental Investigation Agency, December 13, 2016
[click to view]

[8] Myanmar bans lucrative logging in bid to preserve forests, Reuters, April 28, 2016
[click to view]

[12] Myanmar seizes 6,600 tons of illegal timber in 8 months, Xinhua, January 5, 2018
[click to view]

[13] Losing a jewel—Rapid declines in Myanmar’s intact forests from 2002-2014, VV.AA., May 17, 2017
[click to view]

Other documents

Body of Soe Moe Tun Body of journalist Soe Moe Tun is moved after his killing related to his investigations on the illegal logging in Sagaing region. / Facebook
[click to view]

Illegal logging in Sagaing Region Illegal logging in Sagaing Region. Credit: Environmental Investigation Agency
[click to view]

Picture of journalist Soe Moe Tun Picture of journalist Soe Moe Tun, who was killing for investigating the illegal logging in Sagaing Region. / Facebook
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Laura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update31/10/2018
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