Army offensive in Kayin State ‘linked to Salween Dam plans’

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15 October 2014 | KIC | Mizzima


(KIC/BNI) - Salween Watch has issued a statement claiming that recent attacks by the Army on the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) in Kayin State are linked to the Myanmar government’s plans to dam the Salween River, reports KIC-BNI.

Salween Watch is an environmental coalition of civil society groups formed over a decade ago to monitor the planned building of dams on the Salween River.

It said it was “gravely concerned at the recent escalation of fighting and displacement in Karen State, Burma/Myanmar, which is linked to plans by the Burma Army to clear the way for the planned Hut Gyi Dam on the Salween.”

In recent days the Army attacked the DKBA near the proposed location of the Hut Gyi Dam opposite Thasong Yang District in Tak Province, Thailand which caused civilians to flee their villages.

On October 11, 260 Karen villagers tried to flee to Thailand but the Thai authorities forced them back into Myanmar.

According to Salween Watch since October 8 the Army have sent nine troop trucks of reinforcements to the Hut Gyi Dam area. They have also told the DKBA, who are known to oppose the building of the dam, that they will “wipe them out” from the Hut Gyi area.

It said: “We condemn this recent escalation of conflict by the Burma Army, which is further evidence that building dams in war zones only exacerbates conflict and militarization. Especially during this time of nationwide ceasefire negotiations in Burma, we demand that the Burmese government immediately ends this military offensive and pulls back its troops from the area.”

The Hut Gyi Dam is just one of six hydropower projects proposed for the Salween River in Shan State, Kayah State (Karenni) and Kayin State. All of them are situated in ethnic areas that have suffered from decades of civil war and are strongly opposed by the local communities.

Salween Watch is calling for all the projects to be halted and “only reconsidered when there is genuine peace and democracy in Burma.”

It also called for Thailand to stop its involvement with the proposed dam.

It said: “We also urge the Thai government to order the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to withdraw its involvement in the Hut Gyi Dam, which is not only impacting communities inside Burma, but is also having trans-boundary impacts.”

Link: Courtesy of Karen Information Center/Burma News International