Burmese activists’ "long march" for the closure of Myitsone dam
Yangon ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - More than a hundred Burmese activists have launched a two-month march, which kicked off on March 23 in Yangon and will end near the site of the controversial Myitsone dam in Kachin territory in the north of Myanmar on the border with China.
The activists intend to put pressure on the Naypyidaw executive and President Thein Sein to put a permanent halt on the project. A march of over 2400 km, taking over two months through villages , towns and countryside . The purpose is to raise awareness of the mega- plant which according to environmentalists would cause irreprible damage to the Irrawaddy River and the entire eco- system along its natural course.
In September 2011, President Thein Sein ordered a halt to construction until 2015, the end of his term, in order to assess the environmental impact. In reality, according to local witnesses construction "incidental" to the building of the dam, including access roads, have never stopped.
Chinese companies have long been pressuring the Burmese government to resume construction; environmentalists and human rights activists fear that in 2015, with the parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government, construction will resume at full speed.
In recent months opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has strongly criticized the head of state for not having definitively clarified the future fate of the Myitsone dam and, consequently, of the local people. The Nobel Laureate and president of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has accused the president of wanting to "pass the buck" to the next government, by merely suspending construction until the end of his term.
The Myitsone Dam is a US$ 3. 6 billion joint project of the Myanmar Industry Ministry, Asia World and the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) to build a 3,600 megawatt-dam to supply power to the Chinese province of Yunnan.The project has caused the forced relocation of 15,000 residents from some 60 villages. Local Christians have slammed the destruction of a grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary to which they were devoted.