Communities stand up against Chinese dams on Burma's Irrawaddy
Open defiance against Chinese dams in military-ruled Burma surfaced this month as dam construction and a forced relocation process began in the country's northern Kachin State. Affected people directly confronted leading military personnel and held mass prayers, while a community network has written to the Chinese dam builders.
On October 9th, residents of Tanghpre village at the planned Myitsone dam site on the confluence at the source of the Irrawaddy handed an open letter directly to Burma's Northern military commander, objecting to the dam.
The dam will flood the confluence and displace 15,000 people. In August military authorities informed residents that they had less than two months to begin moving out.
"We cannot bring our farms with us when we move" said a representative of the Tanghpre Village Housewives Group in a meeting with the commander on October 10th. "We do not want to move and we appeal to you to bring our concerns to Naypyidaw for consideration."
On the same day, three hundred residents assembled at the confluence for a public prayer ceremony to protect the rivers. Several historical churches will be submerged by the Myitsone Dam, which will also flood forests in one of the world's "hottest hotspots" of biodiversity.
The Kachin Development Networking Group, which has been monitoring the dam developments, are today sending an open letter to China Power Investment calling on them to immediately stop construction of the Myitsone Dam and other dams in Kachin State "to avoid being complicit in multiple serious human rights abuses associated with the project."
China Power Investment is planning a series of seven dams on the Irrawaddy and its two main tributaries. Construction of the 2,000-megawatt Chibwe Dam on the N'mai River has already begun. The majority of the electricity from all the dams will be transmitted to China.
The latest details of the developments at the two dam sites and the recent community opposition can be found in a report Resisting the Flood released today by the Kachin Development Networking Group on www.burmariversnetwork.org
Video footage is also available.