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BurmaNet: Special on Salween

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.


SALWEEN RIVER; Salween Watch - Norwegian Burma Council Submission to the 
 World Commission on Dams, March 31, 2000
No.  236, June 11- 17, 2000
Wednesday,  June 28, 2000
4.  BIG QUAKE SHAKES NORTHERN MYANMAR; Reuters Wire:  8 June, 2000:   
00:48:00 Et
AM;  By Jason Szep
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
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. 


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:
&#61623; "Dictators' dams" are not yet history
&#61623; A 188-meter dam is planned on the Salween River in Burma's 
war-torn  Shan State
&#61623; Massive use of forced labour can be expected
&#61623; Forced relocations of tens of thousands of people would be made 
&#61623; Flooding, militarization and human rights abuses would displace 
 many more
&#61623; Any impact assessment a sham  -  true consultation with the  
affected peoples is impossible
&#61623; Negative impacts may be counted as benefits by the military  
&#61623; An independent committee should be appointed to investigate 
&#61623; 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.



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.


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 



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:&sect;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: &sect;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 

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.


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: 


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). 

We conclude that:

&#61607; Current plans and studies for the dam are not transparent. 
&#61607; 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.
&#61607; 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. &#61607; 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 
&#61607; 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.
&#61607; We therefore recommend that
&#61607; 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. &#61607; 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 
&#61607; 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 
this effect.
&#61607; 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.

Further reading

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 
Shan State.
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  


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. 


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 
high-ranking officers. 


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 


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.]


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.


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  
International Cooperation.

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:


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 

Endorsed by

&middot; Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives, Hong Kong 
&middot; Assembly of the Poor, Thailand
&middot; Cultural and Environmental Preservation Association, Cambodia 
&middot; Church World Services, Cambodia
&middot; Coalition of Concerned NGOs Against Bakun Dam, Malaysia 
&middot; Committee Against the Yongwong Dam Project, Tong River, Korea 
&middot; Cordillera PeoplesüEAlliance, Philippines
&middot; Earth Rights International, Thailand
&middot; Friends of the Earth, Japan
&middot; Friends of the People, Thailand
&middot; Group of Villagers Affected by Hua Na Dam, Thailand &middot; 
Group of Villagers to Protect the Yom River (Kaeng Sua Ten),  Thailand
&middot; Indigenous Peoples Development Centre, Malaysia
&middot; Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, Korea &middot; 
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KSK/Friends of the  
Earth-Phils), Philippines
&middot; LRA, Indonesia
&middot; Meinung PeopleÆs Association, Taiwan
&middot; Mekong Watch, Japan
&middot; National Dam Opposition Network, Japan
&middot; Sagami River Campaign-Symposium, Japan
&middot; Sahabat Alam Malaysia
&middot; SOS Selangor, Malaysia
&middot; South-East Asia Rivers Network, Thailand
&middot; Taiwan Environmental Action Network, Taiwan
&middot; TUNOD KSM  Alliance of Indigenous Organizations in Sierra Madre 
 Mountain, Philippines
&middot; Villager Committee to Restore the Mun River, Thailand &middot; 
Villager Committee to Protect the Lam Dom Yai River, Thailand &middot; 
Villager Committee to Protect the Rub Ror River Basin, Thailand &middot; 
WALHI, Indonesia
&middot; WALHI Papua, Indonesia
&middot; Wildlife Fund Thailand
&middot; Yayasan Tanah Merdeka, Indonesia


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 
Shan  State.

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.


&#61607; Location of dam: BurmaÆs southern Shan State 80 km north of  
Thai-Burma border
&#61607; Height of dam:	 188 m (tallest in Southeast Asia) &#61607; 
Installed capacity: 3,300 MW (3/4 to be sold to Thailand) &#61607; Flood 
area: Reservoir will flood 230 km back up along the Salween   River
&#61607; Cost of dam: At least US$3 billion
&#61607; Developer: GMS Power Public Co. Ltd.(Thailand)
&#61607; 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.

Forced Labor

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 
Forced relocation

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 
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 
following  address:


Salween Watch also periodically checks its ôhotmailüEand 
ôyahooüEaddresses.  Apologies for slow responses, checking will be more 
frequent in future. The  address is:



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