Burma Rivers Network: Statement on International Day of Action for Rivers, Water, and Life

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Free Burma’s Rivers, and Free Burma

On this International Day of Action for Rivers, Burma Rivers Network calls on neighboring countries, dam builders, and international financial institutions to recognize the experience of dam-affected peoples in Burma. Dam projects should be put on hold until affected people are given opportunities to fully participate in project decisions, and energy planning is transparent and taken into consideration alternatives to dams. We stand and say: Free Burma’s Rivers, and Free Burma.

Twenty-one large dams are currently being planned, constructed, and financed in Burma by Thai, Chinese, and Indian corporations and governments.  All of the dams are on major rivers in Burma such as the Salween, Irrawaddy, Chindwin, Sittaung, and their tributaries.  Most of the rivers are still free flowing.

The main purpose of the hydropower dams is to sell the electricity to neighboring countries. The dams will produce an estimated 35,000 MW, and will cost US$ 35 billion. Revenues from investment and the sale of electricity will provide huge sums of money to Burma’s military regime. After over 50 years of civil war in Burma, there will be no transparency or accountability around these investments but instead the money will support the regime to increase its power.

To date, none of the affected people in Burma has been consulted about the dam projects. Thousands of peoples have been relocated without compensation. People are facing forced labor, torture, extra judicial killing, and rape in dam site areas. 

All of the dams threaten internationally-recognized biodiversity yet almost none of the sites have been assessed for environmental impacts. One study of the biodiversity of the Weigyi dam area on the Salween River documented 194 plant and 200 animal species, including 42 endangered species.

Burma Rivers Network is comprised of organizations representing various dam-affected communities in Burma

More information: 

Contact Aung Ngyeh: Phone Cell +66 (0) 84 363 6603

For more information please see www.burmariversnetwork.org

Read the statement in Burmese.