Salween Watch Coalition Statement
Escalation of civil war in Burma necessitates immediate halt to Salween
Following recent heavy fighting in northern Shan State, all the planned
Salween dam sites in Burma now lie directly in active conflict zones.
The Salween Watch Coalition is therefore demanding an immediate halt to
all plans to build dams on the Salween River in Burma. This applies
directly to the Governments and Corporations of China and Thailand as
well as the new Government of Burma
On March 13, 2011, Burmaï¿½s military regime broke its 22-year-old
ceasefire with the Shan State Army-North, and mobilized over 3,500
troops to launch a fierce attack in central Shan State, shelling
civilian targets, committing gang-rape, and displacing thousands of
civilians. The fighting has now spread across northern Shan State, to
areas adjoining the two planned upper Salween dam sites.
The attack is part of a systematic campaign by the regime to wipe out
all ethnic resistance forces, including ceasefire groups, which have
refused to come under their control prior to the November 2010 election.
Since the election, fighting has intensified in Karen, Karenni and
southern Shan States, around the five other planned dam sites along the
Salween, and now has spread to northern Shan State.
The dangers of dam building in Burmaï¿½s war zones should be evident to
Thai and Chinese investors. It is impossible to adhere to meaningful dam
building standards when communities are silenced by violence. Apart from
the direct security risks to dam building personnel, investors risk
their reputations by partnering with a regime that is fuelling
We are encouraged that the Thai government has since 2010 called for
further studies into the impacts of the Hatgyi dam in Karen State,
including its human rights impacts. This is a welcome first step into a
proper process of transparency and accountability around the planned
Salween dams. However, the Thai government and Thai companies are
simultaneously proceeding with plans to build the giant Tasang dam in
southern Shan State. Only days after Burmaï¿½s election, on November 11,
2011, Thailandï¿½s EGAT International and Chinaï¿½s Three Gorges Group
Corporation signed an MOU with Burmaï¿½s military rulers to develop the
Tasang dam, increasing the investment to 10 billion USD. New surveys are
currently being carried out in the area, under heavy armed military
escort. There has been no transparency around this process whatsoever.
In March 2011 Chinese government officials stated they were carrying out
detailed research into the upstream and downstream impacts of the 13
dams they are planning on the Nu (Salween) River in China, and that if
ï¿½a single problemï¿½ was found they would not move into the construction
phase. Again this is welcome news, but it strongly raises the question
why China is not delaying its plans to build dams in Burma where there
are a multitude of unresolved problems, including an ongoing civil war.
There is therefore no consistency to investorsï¿½ standards in
implementing the dams along the Salween River. The latest escalation of
conflict in Burma should serve as a wake-up call to governments and
investors to start abiding by internationally recognized dam standards,
and immediately halt their plans to build dams on the Salween River in
Contact person - Sai Sai (+66) 821842354
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