Ethnic Kachin people in the United Kingdom urged the Chinese government to withdraw their investments in the Irrawaddy Myitsone Dam project, which is being constructed by Chinese companies operating in Kachin State, because it is creating more human rights abuses.
The UK Kachin community made their request in a letter sent January 19th, to Madam Fu Ying, the Chinese Ambassador to London.
In it they asked the Chinese state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) halt dam construction in Kachin State, because it is being done against the will of the local people and it will cause harm to the environment.
“If we destroyed China’s Great Wall, China will be really angry. It is the same situation. We don’t want them to destroy our natural heritage,” Hkanhpa Tu, the joint secretary of UK-based Kachin National Organization (KNO) told the Kachin News Group.
The KNO’s appeal letter pointed out the negative impact on the environment, cultural heritage, livelihood, and safety of the local people by the hydro power projects.
It argued that the project only benefits the military junta, but, the local Kachin people will suffer hardship.
“It is well-documented that development projects in Burma are accompanied by increased militarization and associated abuses, including forced labor and rape,” said the KNO’s statement.
The KNO joint secretary added, “China and the Burmese government should understand this is our homeland, so they should not go ahead with the project against with our wishes. They should respect the autonomy of the Kachin people”.
The open letter also included a letter from Kachin elders and leaders in different areas of Kachin State and Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) Chairman, Lanyaw Zawng Hra, who also urged the Burmese junta to halt the project.
Although, the Kachin representatives urged the country’s military leader Senior General Than Shwe to act quickly to halt the construction, he has failed to do so.
The official opening ceremony for the dam construction phase was held December 21, 2009, by officials of the military, CPI and Asia World Company.
The KNO and anti-dam activists argue the construction will cause the immediate relocation of 15,000 people and millions of people will be at risk from flooding if the dam collapsed.
“We should stop this construction otherwise we will be going to face countless problems,” said Awng Wa, chairman of Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG), based on the China-Burma border.
He said, the construction, being done by Asia World Company and CPI, who are using tens of thousands of Chinese laborers, will create safety issues for kachin women and social problems.
“Hundreds of Chinese workers have already arrived in the Myitsone dam site. Chinese workers have money, so they can do what they want and attract local Kachin women for their sexual pleasure. It will create social problems among local Kachin communities,” added the KDNG Chairman.
“All people should involve themselves in this movement to stop the construction, because we will face, environmental, social, economic and political problems because of this business,” he added.
KNO is planning to protest the dam construction in front of the Burmese Embassies in the UK, Japan, Australia and USA on 5th February, which marks the 49th Kachin Revolution Day, commemorating the establishment of the Kachin Independent Army (KIA).
Protests are also planned in India, Malaysia and Sweden.
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