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Protests in UK Over Forced Relocation on Irrawaddy Dam Site

Originally appeared in Kachin News Group

June 7, 2010

Kachins and activists in solidarity today staged a demonstration outside the Burmese Embassy in London demanding a halt to the forced relocation of villagers living near the Irrawaddy dam project in Kachin State.

About 100 people demonstrated in front of Burmese Embassy in London from noon till 1 pm, said Lashi Goontawng in-charge of Kachin National Organization (KNO), UK, who organized the protest.
Environmentalists estimate over 15,000 villagers are staring forced relocation in the face ever since the Burmese military junta planned to build the hydropower project in Myitsone at the mouth of Burma’s longest river Irrawaddy.

“Relocation by forcing villagers is an injustice and they (junta) are going against our wishes,” said Goontawng.

He said they are trying to stop the construction of the dam and want to show their solidarity with the people suffering in Burma.

KNO has come down heavily and condemned the oppression of villagers and arrest of several Kachin youth and urged the international community to act against the junta.

Villages around the dam site located 27 miles from Myitkyina the capital of Kachin State are now living in fear of forced relocation by the regime.

The junta has forced Mazup Village, housing over 100 people near the dam site to relocate on May 28. Hkang Bu, Dawng Pan and Lahpre are next in line, said villagers.

The junta’s Kachin State Administrative Office (Ya-Ya-Kha) ordered relocation of all villages as of May 1 and over 1,000 civilians from Myitkyina and Waingmaw townships have been ordered to participate in relocation activities.

Over 200 people from junta backed organizations, including the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), Burmese Army officers and civilian workers were into relocation activities of Mazup Village.

The junta has been arresting and interrogating hundreds of local people, especially those living close to the project site after the April 17 serial bomb blasts there.

Tang Hpre village located in Myitsone is among the worst sufferers from arrests and interrogation and almost all young people have fled from the village, said the leader of the Village Solidarity Committee (VSC) formed with 13 members to resist forced relocation.

“This has come as serious trouble, where the junta has tainted its own propaganda of maintaining peace and tranquility in villages and townships. It is human rights abuse,” said the VSC leader who fled to the Sino-Burma border.

Myitsone dam construction is being implemented by the state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) jointly with Burma’s Asia World Company and junta’s No.1 the Ministry of Electric Power since December 21, last year.

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This post is in: Business and Human Rights, Environmental and Economic Justice

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