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BurmaNet: Special on Salween
- Subject: BurmaNet: Special on Salween
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 03:44:00
BurmaNet: Special on Salween
October 26, 2000
Salween Watch is a collaborative effort of non-governmental
organizations in Thailand which monitors the proposed construction of
dams on Burma?s Salween River and publishes a BurmaNet-style occasional
newsletter. This is issue #7 of Salween Watch which has just been
published. For a free subscription, write to salweenwatch@xxxxxxxxxxx
SALWEEN WATCH UPDATE
June -July 2000, Vol. 7.
Firstly, apologies for the long delay in sending out this update on the
conditions surrounding the Salween dam plans. Most of this information
has been in the public domain for some months. Another update with some
of the more recent news is two thirds complete and will follow when
some checking of details is complete.
Secondly, we would like to note that the most recent information we have
been able to gather from the field indicates that work related to the
dam is still underway in the Ta Sang area. Also the military remains
active in the area, with continual moves being made to consolidate the
army?s influence over the Shan State. While movement is currently
restricted by the heavy monsoon rains and the news is not dramatic, the
dam builders continue to move gradually towards implementation of the
project. There remains plenty of reason to remain alert.
Finally, there are also dams elsewhere that are of considerable concern
about which we have little information. The SPDC claims to have built
over 100 dams since the 1988 coup d?etat. The amount of human suffering
and ecological damage that this implies is yet to be measured something
we would urge readers to help bring to light. Controversy continues to
rage elsewhere also üEin Thailand and India particularly. Meanwhile
there have been several notable victories in people?s struggles against
projects that dispossess, disempower and impoverish them and the Nature
that sustains us all. It is good to hear that in recent months large
and destructive dams have been halted in South Korea and in Pakistan.
We can hope that one of these days we shall also be able to announce
similar positive news.
1. FROM SCORCHED EARTH TO FLOODED EARTH: THE GENERALS' DAM ON BURMA'S
SALWEEN RIVER; Salween Watch - Norwegian Burma Council Submission to the
World Commission on Dams, March 31, 2000
2. REFUGEES REVEAL FURTHER DETAILS OF KUNHING KILLINGS; Burma Courier
No. 236, June 11- 17, 2000
3. JAPAN MAY DEFY BANS TO RESUME MYANMAR AID; The Japan Times -
Wednesday, June 28, 2000
4. BIG QUAKE SHAKES NORTHERN MYANMAR; Reuters Wire: 8 June, 2000:
QUAKES STRIKE ASIA BUT ARE THEY LINKED?; REUTERS Thursday June 8 8:24
AM; By Jason Szep
5. QUAKES STRIKE ASIA BUT ARE THEY LINKED? By Jason Szep, REUTERS
Thursday June 8 8:24 AM
6. PAK MUN DECLARATION; East and SE Asia Activists Unite to Protect
Rivers, Fight Dams; PRESS RELEASE, July 4, 2000
7. A JAPANESE DAM FOR BURMAÆS GENERALS: THE TA SANG DAM, FORCED LABOR
AND THE JAPAN CONNECTION. Press backgrounder #3 for a briefing at the
Foreign CorrespondentÆs Club of Japan by Harn Yawnghwe, Euro-Burma
Office and Dr. Thaung Htun, NCGUB representative to the United Nations,
May 30, 2000.
1. FROM SCORCHED EARTH TO FLOODED EARTH: THE GENERALS' DAM ON BURMA'S
Salween Watch Submission to the World Commission on Dams. March 31,
[Paper prepared by Christian Moe of the Norwegian Burma Council in close
collaboration with members of the Salween Watch coalition]
Experience with an individual dam:
Dam: Salween (Tasang) dam,
River: Salween (aka: Thanlwin) River
Country: Burma (aka: Myanmar)
Submission relates to the following WCD thematic reviews:
no. 2 Dams and Indigenous People and Vulnerable Ethnic Minorities no. 3
Displacement, Resettlement, Reparation, Rehabilitation and Development
no. 17 Consultation and Participatory Decision Making
Summary of main points of submission:
 "Dictators' dams" are not yet history
 A 188-meter dam is planned on the Salween River in Burma's
war-torn Shan State
 Massive use of forced labour can be expected
 Forced relocations of tens of thousands of people would be made
 Flooding, militarization and human rights abuses would displace
 Any impact assessment a sham - true consultation with the
affected peoples is impossible
 Negative impacts may be counted as benefits by the military
 An independent committee should be appointed to investigate
 No institution, private or public, should fund such projects
before Burma is democratic
A heavily indebted military dictatorship building a mega-dam in the same
area it is carrying out 'ethnic cleansing' of the indigenous
population: It sounds like Latin America in the 1960s, but it may soon
become reality in 21st century Burma. The plans for a major dam on the
Salween in Burma's Shan State are a throwback to the brutish past of
dam construction. Forced relocation is already going on in the area,
forced labour will likely be used, and there can be no meaningful
consultation with the population terrorised by the military. The
planned Salween Dam will be everything the World Commission on Dams was
formed to ensure that dams are not. Unlike Guatemala's Chixoy dam and
other tragic mistakes of the past, however, it is still avoidable.
THE SALWEEN DAM PLANS IN BRIEF:
There have been many plans to dam the Salween river at various
locations. Currently, the most advanced project is for a dam near the
Tasang crossing between Murng Pan and Murng Ton in southern Shan State
(see Map: Annex II).The feasibility study has been completed and
surveys are now underway for a Definite Plan. The prefeasibility study
specifies that the planned dam would be a 188 m high concrete-faced
rockfill dam, with a head of 142 m and a stated full supply level of
350 m above sea level. The reservoir would then stretch back over 230
km from the dam wall, flooding an area of at least 640 sq km, as well
as inundating the lower parts of three significant tributaries. Three
quarters of its 3,300 MW installed capacity would be used to export
power to Thailand. Related projects include the construction of
high-voltage transmission lines. Though the developers deny it, water
diversion from Burma to Thailand is also a possibility, and seems a more
likely motive than energy exports, since Thailand is currently
experiencing an energy glut. The dam would be built by GMS Power Public
Co. Ltd. of Thailand, at a cost of at least 3 billion USD. Lahmeyer
International (Germany) and Electric Power Development Corporation
(Japan) are among the consultants.
ETHNIC MINORITIES AT RISK IN THE SHAN STATE
Shan State is the largest of the seven ethnic states in Burma, with a
population of about eight million, half of which are ethnic Shan. Other
groups include Burmans, Pa'O, Akha, Lahu, Palaung and Wa. The Shan
states have traditionally remained independent under their own rulers.
When Burma achieved independence, Shan leaders agreed to join in the
Union of Burma, in return for constitutional guarantees including the
right to secession. Conflicts arose between the Shan and the central
government, and in 1958 the first of several Shan rebel groups was
formed. Some ethnic leaders sought a peaceful, political solution, but
these were brutally suppressed by the military goverment that seized
power in 1962, leading to decades of war. The Shan State Army üESouth
(SSA) is still fighting Burma's military goverment.
Burma's governing SPDC junta, one of the most brutal dictatorships in
the world, has especially targeted ethnic groups with its oppressive
policies. Continued insurgency in the Chin, Kachin, Mon, Karen, Karenni
and Shan states and the Tenasserim Division has been met with the
repression of civilian villagers under the government's "four cuts"
counter-insurgency strategy. In particular, the military government has
used forced relocation of villagers, on a scale and in a way tantamount
to crimes against humanity, to deny resources to the resistance forces.
Since large-scale forced relocation began in 1996, 1,400 villages in
the Shan State have been relocated, forcing 300,000 people to leave
their homes, and driving at least 100,000 of them into Thailand as
IMPACTS ON INDIGENOUS ETHNIC GROUPS
FORCED LABOUR IN CONSTRUCTION PHASE
There is abundant evidence showing the pervasive use of forced labour
imposed on the civilian population throughout Burma by the authorities
and the military for a wide variety of purposes, including
infrastructure work (ILO 1998:§528). Forced labour is imposed on
men and women, children and the elderly; it is accompanied by gross
human rights violations, work conditions are poor, and compensation
rare. This violation of international law led the 1999 International
Labor Conference to exclude Burma from almost all activities of the
ILO. Recent reports (ILO 2000, DoL 2000) show that no improvement has
taken place. In fact, the situation with regard to forced labour may be
worsening, particularly in the ethnic minority areas.
Note, first, that forced labour has been widely used on large
infrastructure projects in Burma in the 1990s, most notoriously on the
Ye-Tavoy railroad, on the Loikaw railroad, and in connection with the
Yadana pipeline (ERI/SAIN 1996). Second, forced labour involving
hundreds or thousands of workers has been used at previous major dam
and irrigation projects, including one in Shan State, the Nam Wok (Mong
Kwan) dam project near Kengtung, completed in 1994 (ILO 1998: §447
and note). Third, there is already forced labour near the planned dam
site: Army battalions forced villagers to work for periods of up to two
weeks at Tasang throughout 1998, splitting rocks which were then sold
by the army (DoL 2000).
In conclusion, construction of the Tasang dam and associated
infrastructure is highly likely to involve the massive use of forced
MILITARIZATION AND ABUSE
Already, there are reports of a military build-up at the Tasang dam
site, which has recently been fortified by units from four infantry
batallions (nos. 330, 332, 518 and 520) and by eight motorboats
patrolling the river (S.H.A.N. 1999b).
If built, the dam and power transmission lines would have to be guarded
against possible sabotage by insurgent ethnic armies. The real and
alleged security needs of the project will lead to further
militarization of the area and serve as a pretext for increased
counter-insurgency measures in the area. The military goverment may see
this as an advantage, as it would be able to suppress resistance to its
illegitimate rule for the 'legitimate' reason of protecting foreign
In Burma, a stronger military presence is tied to a pattern of increased
gross violations of human rights, and will exacerbate the hardships
suffered by the population. As noted by the UN Special Rapporteur: "In
the ethnic areas, the policy of establishing absolute political and
administrative control brings out the worst in the military, and
results in killings, brutality, rape and other human rights violations
which do not spare the old, women, children or the weak" (UN 1999b:
Displacement of the population in the dam area is already underway due
to militarization and the "four cuts" relocation campaign. Massive
forced relocation in eight townships of the Shan State, affecting over
300,000 people to date, was started by the Burmese army in 1996 after a
reorganization of the Shan armed resistance. Villagers are typically
given a few days' warning to move to a relocation site, on pain of
being shot. From 1997, the junta extended the relocation program to new
areas, encompassing both sides of the Salween as well as its Nam Parng
tributary upstream from the planned dam, and including Murng Pan
township, which forms the western side of the Tasang dam site (cf. SHRF
Further displacement will occur as people flee the hopeless living
conditions in relocation camps, the increasing abuses of the military,
and the burden of forced labour, which is frequently cited by Burmese
refugees in Thailand as a motive for leaving their home country. Three
quarters of the Shan refugees interviewed by Amnesty in February 1999
had been forced to act as porters for troops (AI 1999).
Flooding the villages will make this situation irreversible. In Kun Hing
and Murng Paeng townships alone, nearly 10,000 households, or at least
50,000 people, have been forcibly relocated. At least a third of the
relocated villages in Kun Hing township are directly on the banks of
the Salween's Nam Pang tributary, which will be flooded, and perhaps
most of the relocated villages and one relocation site in Murng Paeng
will be affected by the dam, as far as one can make out from a map
study (see Annex III.) There is little data on the number of people who
have not been relocated, but will be affected by flooding.
To the refugees and internally displaced persons from the banks of the
Salween, the planned dam would drown their hopes of ever going home. The
military government may well count it as a benefit, rather than a cost,
if the project involves massive displacement of the civilian
population, and if sites that have already been forcibly relocated are
made permanently uninhabitable.
INADEQUATE RESETTLEMENT AND REPARATIONS
Conditions in Burmese relocation centers have been described as
"life-threatening" (DoL 2000), with no or inadequate housing,
sanitation, safe drinking water, food, and medical care. Unemployment
and diseases are major problems. In Shan State as elsewhere, the army
has been systematically killing villagers caught outside the relocation
sites (SHRF 1998).
Relocated people do not benefit from compensation. Instead, they are
sitting targets for continued extortion by the authorities and
military. They are both particularly exposed to demands for forced
labour (AI 1999), and particularly vulnerable to this burden, since
they have had to leave their fields and become wage laborers (UN 1999a:
IMPOSSIBILITY OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND CONSULTATION
The likely impacts of such a large dam would be severe (including
flooding of arable land, reduction of biodiversity, destruction of
livelihoods, riverbank erosion, saltwater intrusion in the Salween
delta around Moulmein city, increasing the serious earthquake risk,
spreading of water-borne diseases, etc). A thorough impact assessment,
based on frank and open consultations with all affected groups -
those in Shan State as well as the variety of affected ethnic groups
downstream from the dam - would certainly be needed.
However, the planned Salween Dam represents an extreme case with regard
to public participation and consultation in dam projects: the case
where no such exercise is possible or, if undertaken, can be
meaningful, due to the pervasive climate of fear created by the
authorities' gross oppression of the affected population. Hence, any
environmental or social impact assessment would necessarily be
It would also be a first. If any environmental impact assessments have
been carried out in Burma, they have not been made public. Also,
generally speaking, there is no framework within which an EIA could be
useful: The rule of law does not function in Burma, the constitution
has been suspended, the military junta rules by decrees which are
executed arbitrarily and without transparency, and the whole field of
environmental regulation is severely underdeveloped (cf. ERI/SAIN
In short, an impact assessment would lack the necessary input from
affected groups, may never be made public, and the military government
may ignore it - or, worse, may embrace negative social and
environmental impacts as part and parcel of its own strategy to stamp
out ethnic-based resistance.
Though opposition to the dam plans cannot be openly voiced inside Burma,
it is known that some organizations representing the ethnic groups of
the area are rejecting the dam plans. Representatives of the various
political parties in the Shan State that contested the 1990 elections
and representatives of the Shan ceasefire groups met in 1999 (specific
date and location withheld), agreeing unanimously to oppose the
building of the dam at Tasang and any other plans to build dams on the
Salween River in Shan State (SSO 1999). In mid-October last, a visiting
reporter found people in villages along the Salween living in fear of
the dam plans (S.H.A.N. 1999a).
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
We conclude that:
 Current plans and studies for the dam are not transparent.
 Any social or environmental impact assessment carried out for
the developers will be a sham üEtrue consultation with the affected
peoples and independent evaluation of the environmental impact is
simply impossible under the present military rule.
 If built, the dam will make irreversible the forced relocations
of tens of thousands of people, and both directly and indirectly cause
the displacement of many more, aggravating the already critical
situation with regard to refugees from and internally displaced persons
within Shan State.  Like any other infrastructure works in
Burma, construction of the Salween Dam is highly likely to entail the
massive use of forced labour and an increased incidence of human rights
 The problem of "dictators' dams" is not yet history. It must be
addressed by other measures than those deemed appropriate in democratic
countries under the rule of law.
 We therefore recommend that
 All information surrounding the studies, funding, and building
of the Salween Dam at Tasang should be made public immediately. All
information should be made available in local languages, not only
English.  The WCD should recommend that an independent committee
be appointed to investigate the current plans for the dam. The
committee should include representatives of affected people as well as
 No institution, whether private or public, should consider
funding dams or other large infrastructure projects in Burma before a
democratically elected, representative government is in power. This
should also apply to export credits, investment guarantees and other
schemes for risk coverage. All ODA agencies, export credit agencies etc
should follow the lead of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank
in not funding projects in Burma. Relevant organisations, such as the
ILO, the UN, the OECD and ASEAN, should pass appropriate resolutions to
 Foreign companies that engage in such projects should be liable
to be denied access to projects funded by the World Bank. The Bank
should institute a policy to this effect.
ANNEX I lists the literature referred to in this document. ANNEX II
shows the location of the Tasang dam site on a map of Burma with the
ANNEX III shows an estimate of the flood area, and gives details on
forced relocation and extrajudicial killings in the adjacent townhips.
UPDATES on the Salween Dam are available from salweenwatch@xxxxxxxxx
[Salween Watch editorial note: Salween Watch postings are most easily
accessible from www.orchestraburma.org UPDATES on the Salween Dam are
ANNEX I: SELECTED REFERENCES
AI (1998). Myanmar: Atrocities in the Shan State. Amnesty International
Report, 15 April 1998 [ASA 16/05/98].
AI (1999). Myanmar: Update on the Shan State. Amnesty International
Report, June 1999 [ASA 16/13/99].
DoL (2000). 2000 Update on Forced Labor and Forced Relocations. US
Department of Labor.
ERI/SAIN (1996). Total Denial: A Report on the Yadana Pipeline Project
in Burma. EarthRights International and Southeast Asian Information
Network, 10 July 1996.
HRDU 1999. Burma Human Rights Yearbook 1998-1999. National Coalition
Government of the Union of Burma, Human Rights Documentation Unit. ILO
(1998). Forced Labour in Myanmar (Burma). Report of the Commission of
Inquiry appointed under article 26 of the Constitution of the
International Labour Organization to examine the observance by Myanmar
of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No.29). International Labour
Organization,Geneva, 2 July 1998.
ILO (2000). Second Report of the Director-General to the members of the
Governing Body on measures taken by the Government of Myanmar following
the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry established to examine
its observance of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29).
International Labour Organization, Geneva 25 February 2000.
KHRG (1998). Killing the Shan: The Continuing Campaign of Forced
Relocation in Shan State. An Independent Report by the Karen Human
Rights Group, May 23, 1998 [KHRG #98-03].
S.H.A.N. (1999a). "Shan People Don't Want The Salween Dam." Shan Herald
Agency for News, issue no. 11-17, 25 November 1999.
S.H.A.N. (1999b). "Junta Fortifying the Salween Dam Site." Shan Herald
Agency for News, issue no. 10-6, October1999.
SHRF (1998). Dispossessed: Forced Relocation and Extrajudicial Killings
in Shan State. Shan Human Rights Foundation, April 1998.
Smith, Martin (1994). Ethnic Groups in Burma: Development, Democracy and
Human Rights. Anti-Slavery International, London [Human Rights Series;
8]. SSO (1999). "Meeting position on the plans by the Burmese military
regime to build a dam on the Salween River in Shan State." Press
release from the Shan State Organisation, Chiang Mai, 10 September
UN (1999a). Question of the Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms in Any Part of the World. Situation of Human rights in Myanmar:
Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Rajsoomer Lallah, submitted in
accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/63. UN
(1999b). Interim report on the situation of human rights in Myanmar
prepared by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights in
accordance with Economic and Social Council decision 1999/231 of 27 July
1999. Transmitted to the UN General Assembly's 54th session, 4 October
1999 [A/54/440]. United Nations, Economic and Social Council,
Commission on Human Rights: Geneva, 22 January 1999.
NOTE: The original report contained map of the Shan State showing the
location of the proposed Tasang dam site and the approximate flood area.
An improved version of the map will soon be available on request as an
attachment, or from the Burmanet / Orchestra Burma website.
2. SHAN STATE MASSACRE
REFUGEES REVEAL FURTHER DETAILS OF KUNHING KILLINGS
BURMA COURIER No. 236, June 11- 17, 2000
CHIANG MAI, June 16 (S.H.A.N.) -- More details are emerging about the
horrifying slaughter of farming families in southern Shan state last
month. The information was provided to correspondent Maihoong of the
Shan Herald in the border district of Fang in northern Thailand by
refugees who fled the area in Kunhing township where the killing
occurred. The refugee statements corroborate and correct earlier
reports from traders who heard about the massacre while traveling
through the township en route to the border town of Tachilek.
According to the refugees, the farmers were working in rice and seseame
fields near the deserted village of Huaypu in Hsaimong tract on May 23
when they were surprised and shot in cold blood by a column of 90 - 100
troops under the command of Captain Than Aung of Infantry Battalion 246
based in Kunhing town. Their bodies were only discovered when relatives
later went in search of them.
Among those killed was one of the porters who was accompanying the
column and who made an appeal on their behalf. The refugees said that
the villagers were all from relocation sites near Kunhing town. Those
interviewed put the number in the fields at 64, but there were reports
that others in isolated areas were also killed.
Among the victims of the slaughter so far identified by the refugees
are: Loong Pu, 54, Zai Kam, 51, Zai Nyunt, 30, Zai Htun, 22, all men
from Hsaimong village; Zai Mya, 21, Zai Ko, 19, Zarngla, 49, Kanna, 53,
all men from Hueypu village; Loongmy, 57, and Loong Htawn, 41, both
from Pahpa village and Nang Kya Oo, 47, and Nang Hseng, 30, both women
from Pahpa village; Nang Oong, 25, Nang Pwang, 23,and Nang Pan, 21, all
three women from Huay Markhpa village; Pa La, 50, a woman from Namaw
village; Pa Pwang, 49, Pa Khurhwan, 52, and Nang Hsenghawng, all women
from Nazook village.
Interviews with the refugees clarified the location of the massacre in
Hsaimong tract south of the Kunhing - Namzarng highway rather than in
Kenglom tract, as reported by the traders who brought the first reports
of the incident. The Shan Herald report said it had corroborated the
locale of the slaughter with an independent source.
Sources told the Shan Herald correspondent that the killings were
carried out in revenge for the deaths that occurred during a May 8-9
ambush of a Burmese army truck caravan along the Kunhing -Takaw stretch
of the same highway by a Shan State Army strike force. Reports at the
time indicated that at least seven of those traveling in the Burmese
army convoy had been killed and five others wounded, including some
3. JAPAN MAY DEFY BANS TO RESUME MYANMAR AID
The Japan Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2000
YANGON (Kyodo) Japan may resume official development assistance to
Myanmar as part of aid to countries surrounding the Mekong River,
according to a document obtained by Kyodo News on Tuesday.
The document was presented to the Myanmar government and served as the
basis for discussions at a two-day workshop on Japanese support for
Myanmar's economic reforms. The workshop ended Monday in Yangon.
Although assistance to Myanmar alone would be unlikely, it could be
extended as part of efforts to help countries along the Mekong River to
cope with deforestation, narcotics trafficking and social problems, it
The support -- planned for Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand
-- is described as "region-wide basic humanitarian assistance" in the
The document was prepared by researchers at the Finance Ministry's
Institute of Fiscal and Monetary Policy, in cooperation with experts in
But Japan's plan may attract criticism from the United States and
European countries, which have imposed economic sanctions on Myanmar
for delaying democratization and suppressing human rights. especially
following the International Labor Organization's decision earlier this
month to punish the country for using forced labor.
A Foreign Ministry source said Japan believes putting Myanmar's stagnant
economy on the right path, rather than imposing sanctions, will help
move democratization forward. The document states that Yangon should
improve its deficit-ridden finances, integrate its official and market
exchange rates into a single rate system, and promote industrial
activities through infrastructure improvements and trade
4. BIG QUAKE SHAKES NORTHERN MYANMAR
Reuters Wire: 8 June, 2000: 00:48:00 Et
YANGON, June 8 - An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale shook
Myanmar's northern Kachin state bordering China and India early on
Thursday and officials said there were no immediate reports of
casualties from the remote area. An official at the Meteorology and
Hydrology Department told Reuters the epicentre of the quake was in
Kachin state about 1,440 km (900 miles) north of the capital Yangon.
Two hours later another quake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale rocked
the same area, he said. "We think the epicentre may be at a very
sparsely populated area," he added.
The Yunnan earthquake bureau measured the tremor at 7.3 on the Richter
scale, a provincial official told Reuters by telephone. The Hong Kong
Observatory measured the first Myanmar quake at 6.5.
He said the epicentre was 140 km (85 miles) north of the Myanmar town of
Myitkyina. The Hong Kong Observatory put the epicentre 170 km (105
miles) north of the town, which is around 1,000 km (600 miles) from
Yangon, the Myanmar capital.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in China because the areas
most affected were along the border between the two countries which
were difficult to reach, the official said.
An earthquake bureau official in the Yunnan district of Liuku told
Reuters many buildings in the area had been damaged, but there were no
immediate reports of any collapsing. "We all ran out of our houses when
we felt the earthquake. It shook things off tables," the official said.
The Indonesian island of Sumatra was hit on Sunday by a big 7.9
earthquake that killed at least 120 people and injured nearly 1,300.
[SW note: According to the Seismic Intensity Zoning Map of China,
produced by ChinaÆs State Seimological Bureau, YunnanÆs border with
Burma is one of the seismically active zones in the whole of China.
Another major earthquake of 7.3 on the Richter scale was recorded on
the Shan üEYunnan border in 1995. This gives a different impression
than that given by the data available from the Burmese and Thai
geological maps, which show much of Shan State as a geologically stable
area of sedimentary rock with no major faults that might be activated
by the weight of many millions of tons of water sitting on the land.]
5. QUAKES STRIKE ASIA BUT ARE THEY LINKED?
REUTERS Thursday June 8 8:24 AM ET
By Jason Szep
TOKYO - The earth moved in Asia Thursday as powerful aftershocks rocked
the west coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island, and a series of
earthquakes jolted China, Myanmar and Japan.
Experts said last Sunday's quake in Indonesia's Bengkulu province,
measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, may have led to a shift in the huge
tectonic plates deep under Asia's seas, prompting the burst of seismic
activity this week.
Professor Ding Jianhai of China's State Seismological Bureau said the
Sumatra, Myanmar and China quakes all occurred along the Eurasia seismic
belt stretching from the Mediterranean sea through the Himalayas to
Indonesia. He described the belt as ``very active'' and said he believed
all the tremors were related.
``According to our estimates, there are about average 18 earthquakes at
more than seven on the Richter scale globally in a year, mainly in two
belts, the Euroasia belt and the belt around the Pacific,'' he said.
Two earthquakes rocked Myanmar Thursday, occurring within two hours in
the remote northern Kachin state. There were no reports of casualties.
About 26 minutes after Myanmar's first quake, China's southwestern
province of Yunnan felt a tremor measuring 7.3, about 85 miles north of
the Myanmar town of Myitkyina. An earthquake bureau official in the
Yunnan district of Liuku told Reuters many buildings in the area had
been damaged, although there were no immediate reports of casualties.
6. PAK MUN DECLARATION
PRESS RELEASE, July 4, 2000
East and SE Asia Activists Unite to Protect Rivers, Fight Dams
Anti-dam and river protection organizations in East and SE Asia have
united to form a regional network to fight dams and protect rivers in
East and SE Asia. At the First East and SE Asia Regional Meeting on
Dams, Rivers and People, held in Kong Jiam, Ubon Ratchathani Province
from June 28-July 2, more than 60 participants from fourteen countries
announced their intention to "unite our struggle at the local, national
and international level so as to stop the funding of dam projects in
East and SE Asia and to restore rivers to the communities who depend on
Mr. Chainarong Srettachau, Director of Thai NGO Southeast Asia Rivers
Network, the local organizer for the meeting, said, "the joining
together of groups from all over East and SE Asia will provide a
powerful force to protect the rights of communities who depend on
rivers for their survival. We have recognized that we share common
problems caused by dams the appropriation of local communities' rights
to their rivers and water resources by governments and private
developers. By joining forces we will drive a stake through the heart
of the dam-building industry in this region."
Participants at the meeting, which included dam-affected people from
Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and Cambodia,
together with allies from across the region, produced the Pak Mun
Declaration, which calls for:
* A moratorium on large dam construction until the problems created by
existing dams have been rectified and reparations made to affected
* The decommissioning of dams which have created irreversible social,
environmental and cultural destruction, and an immediate stop to the
financing of dam projects by bilateral and multilateral organizations,
particularly the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for
Participants visited Pak Mun and Rasi Salai dams in Thailand, where
villagers have occupied the dams and are demanding the permanent opening
of the gates. Participants told the villagers that they would work to
support their struggle to restore the Mun River.
Ms. Joan Carling, Secretary-General of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance,
an indigenous peoples' organization in the Philippines which is
fighting the Japanese-funded San Roque dam, told the villagers at Pak
Mun and Rasi Salai
"You are not alone. People from 12 countries in the East and SE Asia
region, and from the United States, Norway and Australia, have come
here today to express our support for your struggle. We can see that
the Pak Mun and Rasi Salai dams serve no useful purpose, and that the
gates should be permanently opened to restore the Mun river. We call on
the Thai government to stop hesitating and comply with your demands,
for the sake of the people and the river."
For further information, please contact Mr. Chainarong Srettachau,
Director of South-East Asia Rivers Network, + 66 53 221157,
The full text of the declaration is as follows:
PAK MUN DECLARATION
Demanding a moratorium on dam construction, decommissioning of existing
dams, reparations for dam-affected people
Approved at the First East and SE Asia Meeting on Dams, Rivers and
People Mae Mun and Mekong Rivers, Kong Jiam, Thailand. July 1, 2000
We, the people from 12 countries of East and Southeast Asia namely
Korea, China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Taiwan,
Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Hong Kong, representing organizations
of dam-affected people and their allies, have gathered here at the
mouth of the Mun River (Pak Mun) in order to express our unity in
strengthening the peopleÆs power and supporting our struggle against
the injustices that we are now encountering.
We have exchanged our experiences both at the local and regional level
and recognize that all of us are facing similar kinds of problems
caused by dams. Dams have brought about the destruction of rivers and
the lives and livelihoods of villagers. Dams undermine the rights of
people, their community and culture as well as destroying the
environment, all of which are basic needs for their survival.
In order to protect the rights and livelihood of people and rivers, our
demands are as follows;
1. A moratorium on large dam construction in East and SE Asia until the
problems created by existing dams have been rectified and reparation
made to affected communities. Further, dams which have created
irreversible social, environmental, and cultural destruction must be
decommissioned and the rivers restored.
2. The bilateral and multilateral organizations must stop financing dam
projects. Development assistance should not be spent on destroying the
lives of the people. The transnational corporations, private companies
and private banks must also abolish their investment in dam-building
projects that do not do justice to people.
3. Governments, dam-building companies, dam industry consultants, the
World Bank, private banks and the Asian Development Bank, who are all
responsible for the havoc wreaked upon our communities by large dams,
must pay proper reparations to all dam-affected communities.
4. Critical and independent inquiries on the rationale and justification
of proposed dam projects should be carried out. Integrated Resource
Planning, demand side management and conservation of natural resources
should be prioritized. Cheaper, cleaner and better alternatives to dams
should be undertaken to meet actual needs of people for energy and
5. No development projects should be built without the voluntary, prior
and informed consent of all affected people. Information regarding
proposed projects must be disclosed, in a timely and transparent
manner, to the general public and, especially, to people directly
impacted from such projects. Further, we demand democratic reforms
throughout the region to increase freedom of speech, press and assembly
so that people can participate without fear in the decision-making
process regarding the use and management of their resources.
6. The oppression of indigenous peoples by dams and other projects
should be stopped. We demand that the cultural, social, economic and
land rights of indigenous peoples be fully recognized and respected.
7. We oppose the privatization of rivers and water resources. We also
oppose the control of rivers and water resources by illegitimate and
repressive governments, as in Burma. Access to water is a basic human
right. Rivers must be in the hands of the people, not the private
sector or military regimes.
In order for our demands to be implemented, we declare that we will
unite our struggle at the local, national and international level so as
to stop the funding of dam projects in East and SE Asia and to restore
rivers to the communities who depend on them.
Water for Life, not for Death!
Ao Khuan kuen bpai, ao Dhammachat kuen ma! Take your dams back, give us
· Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives, Hong Kong
· Assembly of the Poor, Thailand
· Cultural and Environmental Preservation Association, Cambodia
· Church World Services, Cambodia
· Coalition of Concerned NGOs Against Bakun Dam, Malaysia
· Committee Against the Yongwong Dam Project, Tong River, Korea
· Cordillera PeoplesüEAlliance, Philippines
· Earth Rights International, Thailand
· Friends of the Earth, Japan
· Friends of the People, Thailand
· Group of Villagers Affected by Hua Na Dam, Thailand ·
Group of Villagers to Protect the Yom River (Kaeng Sua Ten), Thailand
· Indigenous Peoples Development Centre, Malaysia
· Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, Korea ·
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KSK/Friends of the
· LRA, Indonesia
· Meinung PeopleÆs Association, Taiwan
· Mekong Watch, Japan
· National Dam Opposition Network, Japan
· Sagami River Campaign-Symposium, Japan
· Sahabat Alam Malaysia
· SOS Selangor, Malaysia
· South-East Asia Rivers Network, Thailand
· Taiwan Environmental Action Network, Taiwan
· TUNOD KSM Alliance of Indigenous Organizations in Sierra Madre
· Villager Committee to Restore the Mun River, Thailand ·
Villager Committee to Protect the Lam Dom Yai River, Thailand ·
Villager Committee to Protect the Rub Ror River Basin, Thailand ·
· WALHI Papua, Indonesia
· Wildlife Fund Thailand
· Yayasan Tanah Merdeka, Indonesia
7. A JAPANESE DAM FOR BURMAÆS GENERALS: THE TA SANG DAM, FORCED LABOR
AND THE JAPAN CONNECTION.
Press backgrounder #3 for a briefing at the Foreign CorrespondentÆs Club
of Japan by Harn Yawnghwe, Euro-Burma Office and Dr. Thaung Htun, NCGUB
representative to the United Nations, May 30, 2000.
Now, with financing from Japan, Burma is planning to dam the Salween to
export electricity to Thailand. Although only in the planning stage,
the project is already causing massive human rights abuses in BurmaÆs
The dam, to be located at Ta Sang in southern BurmaÆs Shan State is 80
kilometers from the Thai border. At 188 meters high, the dam will be
the tallest in Southeast Asia, creating a reservoir 230 kilometers
long, flooding an area of at least 640 sq. km, storing approximately
one-third of the Salween's average annual flow. The cost of building
the dam will be at least US $3 billion.
In the last four years, Burmese troops have intensified their military
operations in the Shan State, resulting in the forced relocation of
more than 300,000 people. In 1999, troops from four Burmese army
battalions took up positions to guard workers from the JapanÆs Electric
Power Development Corporation (EPDC), a quasi-governmental company.
Human rights reports from the area indicate those battalions are using
forced labor and committing other abuses.
TASANG DAM FACTS
 Location of dam: BurmaÆs southern Shan State 80 km north of
 Height of dam: 188 m (tallest in Southeast Asia) 
Installed capacity: 3,300 MW (3/4 to be sold to Thailand)  Flood
area: Reservoir will flood 230 km back up along the Salween River
 Cost of dam: At least US$3 billion
 Developer: GMS Power Public Co. Ltd.(Thailand)
 Japanese connection: Electric Power Development Corporation
(Japan), a quasi-governmental corporation is conducting the feasibility
study. The only plausible funder is the Japanese treasury, probably by
way of the Asian Development Bank.
According to the 1998 International Labor Organization (ILO) finding on
forced labor in Burma, rendered by a quasi-judicial proceeding, there is
abundant evidence that the SPDC military pervasively uses forced
civilian labor for the construction and maintenance of military camps
and other infrastructure. A 1998 Human Rights Watch Burma Report states
that the use of forced labor has not abated but appears to have
increased with the collapse of the economy.
Forced labor involving thousands of workers has been used on previous
major dam projects, including the Nam Wok dam in Shan state completed
in 1994. There are compelling reasons to believe that the Ta Sang dam
development will also involve the SPDC's use of forced labor, such as:
In the January 1999 report submitted to the UN Commission on Human
Rights, Special Rapporteur, Mr. Rajsoomer Lallah, received reports of
villagers from Murng Pan, Larng Khur, Murng Ton and Nam Zarng being
forced to work by the SPDC army for periods of up to two weeks
splitting rocks near the Salween River crossing of Ta Sang.
SPDC's widespread practice of using forced labor for construction of
infrastructure projects is well documented and publicized. The Yadana
gas pipeline project brought worldwide attention to such inhumane
Human Rights Watch reports an intensification of civilian forced
relocation and the subsequent human rights abuses inflicted by the SPDC
military from 1996 to 1999, especially in the Shan State. Forced
labor, forced portering, forced relocation and extrajudicial killings
have in the last four years dramatically increased throughout the Shan
State of northern Burma.
Forced displacement is occurring in precisely the same areas that dam
site surveyors began feasibility studies on the proposed dam site.
>From 1997, the SPDC military extended its relocation program in Shan
state to include both sides on the Salween river, as well as the Nam
Parng tributary upstream from the planned dam, and including Murng Pan
township, which forms the western side of the Ta Sang dam site.
Already, there are more refugees from Burma than there are people in
Kosovo. Aid groups estimate that more than 500,000 are internally
displaced within Burma. Upwards of 100,000 more are in camps along the
Thai Burma border and Thailand estimates that at least another 500,000
are in Thailand outside the camps. The largest group of refugees are
Shan. If the dam is to proceed, the number of Shan seeking refuge in
Thailand in order to escape SPDC's forced relocation program and its
subsequent human rights abuses will increase substantially.
The Japanese Connection:--JapanÆs Electric Power Development Co.Æs Work
on the Ta Sang Dam
JapanÆs Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (EPDC) has been hired to
conduct feasibility studies on the Ta Sang project for the Government of
Burma. EPDC is a quasi-governmental company, controlled by the
Japanese government. On international projects EPDC typically provides
feasibility studies and arranges project financing.
The Salween River area of the Shan State is a war zone. Since mid-1999,
the Burma Army has been fortifying positions along the Salween River
near the dam to protect the companiesüEincluding EPDC--have been
carrying out feasibility and survey work. Units from 4 Infantry
Battalions, 330, 332, 518 and 520, numbering 400-500 troops took up
positions on both sides of the river at Tasang. (Source, SHAN HERALD
AGENCY FOR NEWS: JUNTA FORTIFYING THE SALWEEN DAM SITE 4 October,
1999). Refugees arriving in Thailand are reporting abuses by the
troops from these battalions.
EPDCÆs ten shareholders are the Ministry of Finance, with 66% and nine
electric power utilities, collectively owing 33.3%. JapanÆs Cabinet has
slated EDPC to be privatized by 2002. See
The use of a Japanese quasi-governmental company to carry out the
feasibility studies hints at what will likely be the most significant
Japanese connectionûfunding. At US $3 billion, the project dwarfs
BurmaÆs ability to pay. Thailand, still recovering from the Asian
financial crisis, is also in no position to pay for such a risky
project. Western governments are intensely opposed to funding any
projects that benefit the military regime until it begins a transition
to democracy. The World BankÆs own regulations prohibit it from
involvement. Nor is the private sector likely to pick up the tab. The
Thai developer, GMS Inc., is by any reasonable accounting standard
bankrupt and was delisted from the Thai stock exchange. Which leaves
the Japanese treasury, probably by way of the Asian Development Bank.
The Japanese government has been secretive about its involvement in
Tasang but it has recently announced a resumption of aid to Burma for
small and medium sized companies. Japan also recently funded, under
the guise of humanitarian aid, an extension of the runway at RangoonÆs
airport to boost the tourism industry by allowing larger jets to land.
For more information on the massive forced relocation, forced portering,
forced labor and other abuses in the Salween area, see:
Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (EPDC), 6-15-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku,
Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
Phone: 03-3546-9385; Fax: 03-3544-1819; Website: http://www.epdc.co.jp
A Dam for BurmaÆs Generals, a report by Terra, a Thai environmental NGO
The Burma ArmyÆs Salween River offensive
ôKilling the ShanüE a report by the Karen Human Rights Group http
Backdated Salween Watch Hotmailouts are available online at the
Salween Watch also periodically checks its ôhotmailüEand
ôyahooüEaddresses. Apologies for slow responses, checking will be more
frequent in future. The address is:
T O P I C A The Email You Want. http://www.topica.com/t/16
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