Locals protest against IFC hydro-power workshop in Myitkyina, Capital of Kachin State

  • Written by Network Media Group
  • Published in N.M.G

Locals staged a protest in Myitkyina Capital of Kachin State yesterday, in opposition against the hydro-power project workshop led by International Finance Corporation (IFC).

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Protesters held placards and shout slogans during the protest
against the dam construction workshop led by International
Finance Corporation (IFC) - (Photo: Network Media Group).

The protest, conducted by locals who were displaced by reason of Myitsone Hydro-power project, took place outside Plam Spring Hotel, Myitkyina Capital, where the workshop was being organized by the IFC, a private sector-financing entity of the World Bank.

“Now, IFC is encouraging to construct the hydropower project. They are having meeting. So, we local people are worried about it. We stage the protest because we worried building of hydropower project. Around a hundred people join in the protest. Although the rich people are urging for the hydropower construction, they should sympathize the local residents who are poor and truly in trouble. We all locals oppose the Myitsone hydro-power project,” said Daw Jah-kaung, a protester, who had to leave their home to Aung-myin-thar Village, due to Myitsone Hydro-power Project.

The protestors shouted out slogans, including “Stop the hydro-power projects on Irrawaddy Tributaries. The Irrawaddy River belongs to the public. The Irrawaddy River must flow freely forever. The locals must be able to live at their native places freely.”

The local authorities came to warn and tried to break up the protesting group due to not receiving approval for the protest.

“IFC is an organization of World Bank. They should discuss about hydropower projects when the political situation is not stable in Kachin State as well as other ethnic areas in the country. Instead of doing fund-raising for the meals of the IDPs, who are packed at the IDP camps, they are doing business at the time of unstable situation. They should not do this. It is bad time, bad process and bad institution group.” said U Steven Naw Aung, general secretary of Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG).

Kachin Political Cooperation Committee (KPCC), comprised the Kachin Democratic Party (KDP), the Kachin State Democracy Party (KSDP), the Lhaovo National Unity and Development Party (LNUDP), and the Kachin National Congress (KNC), released a statement, citing no development projects should be implemented when there is armed conflict and people are suffering as well as hydro-power projects must be stopped.

The proposed hydro-power projects are located along the Salween River and at the confluence of the Irrawaddy River, where ethnic people live.

Although the armed conflict and regional instability are taking place in the areas of proposed hydro-power projects and the people are urging to stop the hydro-power projects, the IFC proceeds with the workshops. So, the locals are worried and staged the protest, according to Sai Khur Hseng, a spokesperson of Burma River Network (BRN).

“This International Finance Corporation is approaching for the hydro-power construction. Their focus is to sell the electric power to foreign countries and they will take the profits from selling the power,” said Sai Khur Hseng.

On January 27, the BRN and Save the Salween Network (SSN) released a statement, voicing oppositions against the dam construction workshops led by IFC and scheduled from January 27 to 31 in the cities of Yangon, Myitkyina and Loikaw.

Translated by Aong Jaeneh