Kachin Cultural Association Opposes Pressure to Revive Myitsone Dam

The Kachin National Association of Tradition and Culture (Myanmar) released a nine-point statement on Thursday standing against any resumption of the China-backed Myitsone hydropower project in Kachin State.

Hpre Hkaw Luk, secretary of the association, spoke about the decision to publish the statement.

“We heard that the Chinese embassy and companies had begun to approach some people and organizations about resuming the Myitsone hydropower dam project. With so much opposition, they should not do this. Therefore, we are representing all of Burma in releasing this statement,” he explained.

Hong Liang, China’s ambassador to Burma, met Kachin political and religious leaders in Myitkyina in December of last year. Following the meeting, in mid-January, the Chinese embassy released a statement declaring that the Kachin people, religious leaders and political parties had said they were not in opposition to the Myitsone dam project. Kachin people responded by demonstrating publicly against the dam, and denying the claim.

A March 1 meeting in Ruili, in China’s Yunnan province, involved Chinese government officials and Kachin religious leaders, who say they were persuaded to accept the dam.
Two weeks later, Burma’s State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi held a public meeting in Pyay, in Bago Region, calling on people to be “open-minded” about the Myitsone project.

The Kachin Tradition and Culture Association cited this series of events as contributing to the release of their statement on March 28, reaffirming their position regarding the hydropower project, which would have severe environmental and social consequences if completed.

The Myitsone dam would be built on the confluence of the Irrawaddy River, where the N’Mai and Mali rivers meet; the thousand of megawatts of electricity produced would be primarily exported to China. Former President Thein Sein suspended the project in 2011.