Displaced Villagers Pledge Support to Any Party Willing to Scrap Myitsone Dam

By Network Media Group
Monday, October 05, 2020

Kachin State residents who were forced to relocate to make way for the controversial $3.6bn Myitsone Dam, now stalled since 2011, told NMG they would vote for any party in the election that would guarantee the project won’t ever resume.

“We really want a government that will benefit the people,” Naw Karein Tu Hkawng, told NMG. “We’ll therefore vote for the parties that will permanently stop the Myitsone Dam.”

Ma Ja Awng said they need leaders who pay consideration to those in “remote, rural locations.”

Both originally from Tang Hpe village, they were forced off their land some nine years ago. On September 30, the ninth anniversary of when the dam was suspended, villagers returned to Tang Hpe to clean it up and clear overgrown bush.

“It’s very important for us to return to our village,” said Naw Karein Tu Hkawng. He explained the survival of their land hinges on the dam being scrapped.

Zau Tu said the government should do the right thing by allowing them to return to Tang Hpe.

In Aung Myintha Sanpya village, where the government has relocated a total of ten villages, including Tang Hpe, there isn’t land for farming.

Kai Seng, originally from Tang Hpe, wants to return to her land in Tang Hpe. “We were forced to relocate from our village by the military regime.”

“If Myitsone Dam isn’t stopped, it won’t only be locals who are suffering by it’s negative impact, but everyone in Burma. We need to cooperate in calling for it to be stopped.”

During the 2015 general election, Aung San Suu Kyi promised to review the Myitsone Dam if elected. But after nearly four years in office her party, the National League for Democracy, has failed to make its position clear.

Myitsone Dam was planned at the confluence of the Mali and N’mai rivers, and the source of the Irrawaddy River. A joint venture between China Power Investment Corporation (CPI), the Burmese Government’s Ministry of Electric Power and Asia World Company, if built it is expected to generate 6000 megawatts. Ninety percent of the generated power is slated for China.

Environmentalists have criticized the project for a number of reasons, including the extensive flooding it would cause and its location, which is near the Sagaing fault line. It is believed the dam would kill the Irrawaddy River, described as the lifeblood of Burma.

Facing widespread opposition, former President Thein Sein suspended the project in 2011. In recent years, China has become increasingly vocal for the dam construction to resume.