Myitsone Dam Suspension a Breakthrough for Burma’s Civil Society

International Rivers
Friday, September 30, 2011

For immediate release

Myitsone Dam site
Myitsone Dam site

In a stunning move, Burma’s President today announced that the Myitsone Dam on the Irrawaddy River would be halted “to respect the will of the people.” International Rivers welcomes this decision as a fantastic breakthrough for civil society groups in Burma and their partners in China and around the world.

Grace Mang, program coordinator at International Rivers, said: “The suspension of the Myitsone Dam is a great success for civil society groups in Burma and throughout the world. The decision shows that dam builders can no longer rely on dictatorial governments to push through projects that are rejected by their populations. China Power Investment Corporation and other dam builders should now reconsider other planned projects on the Irrawaddy and Salween rivers.”

The US$3.6 billion Myitsone hydropwer project would have submerged the confluence of the Irrawaddy River in Kachin State and created a reservoir the size of Singapore. The project is the central part of a seven-dam cascade proposed to be built with $20 billion in Chinese investment.  It is located in one of the world's top biodiversity hotspots, would displace 12,000 people, and would irreversibly affect Burma’s central river system and rice-growing area.

The Myitsone Dam is strongly opposed by the Kachin People’s Organization, Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, civil society organizations in Burma, and their partner groups in China, Thailand, and around the world. International Rivers is supporting the Burmese NGOs through technical analysis, corporate research and international awareness-raising.

International Rivers is an environmental and human rights organization with staff in four continents. For over two decades, International Rivers has been at the heart of the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them.

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