Burma Dissident Groups Demand End to Chinese Dam Projects

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 1:25 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A coalition of Burmese activist groups is demanding that China halt work on a series of dams in northern Burma, where ethnic Kachin rebels are under attack from government forces.

The nine-member alliance of monks, students and youth groups also calls in statements issued Tuesday for renewed pressure on the Burmese government to end its attacks on ethnic groups and pursue genuine peace.

The government last month began an assault on Kachin forces near two Chinese hydroelectric dam projects, sending hundreds of villagers fleeing toward the Chinese border seeking safety. Sporadic fighting continues amid unsuccessful efforts at peace talks.

The two activist statements are signed by nine groups including the All Burma Monks' Alliance and the 88 Generation Students. They say China's involvement in the dam projects shows an indifference toward the Burmese people, whose lives depend on the downstream waters of the Irrawaddy River.

The activists demand that China “consider the interests of the Burmese people and completely withdraw the dam projects being worked up inside Burma.”

They also call on China to halt arms exports to the Burmese government and to end its “interference in Burma's internal affairs through the government.”

The groups say that the fighting in Kachin areas is being prompted by the dam projects and by the failure of successive governments to provide equal rights to ethnic nationalities.

They say it is necessary for all activists and the entire people of Burma “to vigorously wage a campaign for national peace in addition to and together with the ongoing campaign for release of political prisoners.”

Burma ended decades of open military rule with the establishment of a nominally civilian-led government at the end of March. However most top positions are filled by current or retired generals, and critics say the military has not relaxed its grip on power.