Thursday, April 4, 2013

Burmese army clears way for Chinese mega-dams in Shan state

Burma Army moves tanks in as its orders Shan army out
Karen News, April 4, 2013
Author: Saw Blacktown

The Burma Army orders Shan Army to clear way for Chinese Mega Projects
while surrounding Shan State with tanks and artillery.

Burma's military has given an ultimatum to the Shan State Army-North
(SSA-N) to remove its troops from the West Bank of the Salween River,
near the construction of a Chinese backed mega dam.

On March 26, Burma's Northeast Regional Commander ordered the SSA-N to
move away from the area east of the Tangyan-Mong Kao road or face an
attack by Burma's military, local Shan groups said.

The SSA-N had until recently been permitted to operate in the area under
both a 1989 ceasefire and a 2012 peace agreement with Burma's government.

Shan sources report that thousands of Burma Army troops, including
artillery and tanks, had been massing in Tangyan and Mong Hsu areas in
Shan State since Febuary this year.

Tangyan lies 20 kilometers southwest of Nong Pha, where construction on
one of six planned dams on the Salween River in Burma is proceeding. The
plan was originally announced in Burma's parliament on February 27.

"Little is known about the project," said the Shan Sapawa Environmental
Organisation in a statement to the media, "except for an announcement in
December 2009 that Burma's Ministry of Electric Power No. 1 had signed
an MOU with China Hydropower Engineering Consulting Group (HydroChina)
to develop two dams, one at Nong Pha and one at nearby Man Tung, on the
Nam Ma tributary of the Salween, which will together produce 1,200

The group said that it was feared that events could lead to growing

"It is feared that the Burmese Army will use force to seize the SSA-N
territories, as in 2009 when it launched a major offensive on the Kokang
ceasefire group in northeast Shan State. The seizure of the Kokang area
has enabled Chinese dam builders to proceed with the giant Kunlong dam
on the Salween, where construction of access roads to the site by Asia
World Company is almost completed. Most of the 1,400 MW produced by the
Kunlong Dam will be exported to China."

Previous attacks by the Burma Army against SSA-N forces in the middle of
2011 had led to the displacement of over 30,000 people.

"If full-scale war breaks out again in northern Shan State, there will
be large scale displacement and suffering," said Sapawa spokesperson Sai
Khur Hseng. "These are the costs of dam-building in Burma's war zones."
He added.

Shan Sapawa urged a halt to all dam projects on the Salween River while
peace negotiations were still underway with various ethnic armed groups.

"The issue of natural resources is at the heart of the conflict in Shan
State," said Sai Khur Hseng "Selling off the Salween, the lifeblood of
our state, before even bringing the issue to the table will derail the
peace process for sure."

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