Petition Seeks Halt to Chinese Dam Projects in Burma
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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Petition Seeks Halt to Chinese Dam Projects in Burma

By Saw Yan Naing Monday, December 3, 2007


A petition signed by more than 50,000 people and 24 international organizations has been sent to the Chinese government calling for a halt to the construction of dam projects in Burma to allow full inquiries to first of all take place.

Burma Rivers Network said the petition was being sent by fax to Chinese embassies. Signatories included villagers from Burma’s Kachin, Karenni, Shan and Karen states who would be directly affected by the projects.

Burma Rivers Network Secretary Aung Ngyeh told The Irrawaddy on Monday: “Before building the dams, we are demanding that the Chinese government do environmental assessment, showing the results to the local people, then let them be involved in the decision making.”

The Network called on the Chinese government to follow its environmental laws when constructing the planned dams in Burma. Aung Ngyeh said it was feared the projects would lead to human rights abuses, such as land confiscation, forced labor, and troop deployment, as well as deforestation and the destruction of livelihoods.
Local people would not benefit from the projects, which would produce power for China and Thailand, said Aung Ngyeh.

He said some 20 dams are to be built in Burma’s Kachin, Shan and Karen states. Most of the companies involved in the projects were from China.

Meanwhile, a report titled “Under the Boot,” detailing the implementation of the Shweli dam, China’s first “build-operate-transfer” hydropower project with Burma’s junta, was released on Monday by the Palaung Youth Network Group [Ta’ang]. The report said Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power had formed a joint venture with Yunnan Joint Power Development Company, a consortium of Chinese companies, to build and operate the project.

Electricity generated by the dam would be sent to China and several military-run mining operations in Burma. As the project nears completion, plans are underway for two more dams on the Shweli River, a tributary of the Irrawaddy, the statement said.

Mai Aung Ko of the Palaung Youth Network Group (Ta’ang) said: “This Chinese project has been like a sudden military invasion. The villagers had no idea the dam would be built until the soldiers arrived.”

Local villagers are now suffering land confiscation, forced labor, and restrictions on their movement, the report said.

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