Friday, March 4, 2011
OROL event at Karen refugee camp (Feb 22, 2011)
Children and Youth raise voices over Salween Dams
Feb 23rd, 2011
More than a hundred children and youth from Ee Tu Hta temporary Karen refugee camp joined the event of "Children and Youth Action for Southeast Asia Rivers Day" on the Salween River bank. They came together on February 22nd to observe and raise their concerns over the negative consequences of dam construction on the Salween River.
"Dams construction on the Salween River will destroy our life and our future" said Saw Hser Htoo, a young boy who fled from war-torn Burma to take shelter in Ee Tu Hta temporary refugee camp. He added, " I have ran away from SPDC military's attacks and stay here, I don't want to run again".
The Ee Tu Hta temporary refugee camp was set up in April 2006 as a result of the mass clearance of areas in Toungu District (Karen State, Burma) by SPDC troops for the security of the new capital Naypyidaw of Burma. The camp lies on the banks of the Salween River, on the border between Karen state in Burma and Mae Hong Son Province in Thailand.
"We don't want the dam to be built, we use the Salween river for our food, water, transportation and other multi purposes, if they build dams on it, we will have problems with our needs" said Naw Po Po, a young girl from Ee Tu Hta refugee camp.
The Thai, Chinese and Burmese military governments continue to push for the construction of dams on the Salween River. Last February 8-9, 2011, members of sub-committee for public hearing for Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand-EGAT's Hatgyi dam project which includes representatives from EGAT , Human rights commission, Sop Moei city mayors, Thai military specializing in geographic mapping, and potential effected communities went to Mae Samlap village and Sop Moei district office and conducted public hearing and asked for opinions from local villagers regarding the Hatgyi dam construction on Salween River.
On March 2nd, 2011, the same sub-committee will go again to Baan Sop Moei in Sop Moei District to conduct public hearing again with local villagers on the same Hatgyi dam project.
There are five proposed dams on the Salween River and three are located in Karen State. Children and youth are concerned that the dams will permanently destroy their river, playgrounds, homes, animals, trees and their peaceful way of living with the Salween.
The event was organized by Karen River Watch (KRW) which represents Burma as part of the regional campaign called "Our Rivers Our Life" coordinated by the Southeast Asia Regional Working Group on Biodiversity. The working group comprises of 7 member countries including Burma, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Lao-PDR, Indonesia and Cambodia.
February 22nd is the day that was initiated by Our Rivers Our Life campaign for Children and Youth Action for Southeast Asia Rivers Day and this event is the first time that organized simultaneously in 7 member countries.
"I want to tell our Karen leaders to speak for us, I want them to work with all relevant stakeholders and make sure that no dam is constructed on the Salween river" said a grade 6 young boy in Ee Tu Hta camp.