Friday, May 30, 2014

Displaced villagers continue to oppose Myitsone Dam

Ja Hkawn from Mungching Rawt Jat a press conference on a result of Myitsone dam referendum in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state on March 26, 2014.

Villagers forcibly displaced to make way for the Myitsone Dam project in Kachin state continue to oppose the dam, according to a referendum conducted earlier this year.

On March 12, 2014 villagers living at the Aung Myin Thar relocation camp overwhelmingly voted in a secret ballot referendum to oppose to the dam. Participants in the referendum were given a ballot on which they could indicate their approval or disapproved of the dam project.

According to the Kachin community group Mungchying Rawt Jat (MRJ) who helped organize the referendum of the 1,160 adults who took part 1,086 voted against the dam. 43 people indicated they supported the dam and an additional 33 ballots were declared invalid.

The 152-meter high dam, which was set to be built on the upper Irrawaddy river was suspended in September 2011 by a decree from President Thien Sein. Over the past two years China Power Investment (CPI) and its Burmese subsidiary have pushed hard to resume the project.

Activists say that the referendum is strong proof that local residents do not want the dam project to continue. “We protested many time against the building of the Myitsone. Now again we, local people, have clearly shown by voting that 93% of us oppose the dam,” said Daw Ja Hkawn from MRJ.

CPI has repeatedly claimed that local residents want the dam to be built, a claim strongly contested by residents of Aung Myin Thar, dubbed a model village by CPI and its partner firm the Asia World.


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