Thursday, March 13, 2008

Press release by Karenni Development Research Group

Press release by Karenni Development Research Group on March 14, 2008, International Day of Action for Rivers Land-mine injuries and forced labour precede Chinese investment in new Karenni hydropower project Eight villagers have been injured by landmines when forced by the Burma Army to clear land around the two Lawpita hydropower plants near Loikaw, as Chinese investors start construction of a third power plant in the area. The injuries occurred on December 11, 2007, when the commander of Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 261 ordered hundreds of villagers from Noe Goe village tract to work in the land-mine infested area. According to research by KDRG, over 18,000 land mines have been laid by the Burma Army around the Lawpita power plants since they were constructed with Japanese bilateral aid decades ago. Human rights abuses such as these have stalled further Japanese aid to build the long-planned No. 3 Lawpita hydropower plant. However, residents of Loikaw have been told that Chinese investors are now preparing to build the new plant. In January 2008 local authorities began confiscating land in Daw Mu Kalah village near Loikaw and forcing villagers to clear the land and lay foundations for the construction of the plant, which will have an installed capacity of 84 megawatts. The No 1 and 2 Lawpita power stations have been producing 168 megawatts of electricity, mainly transmitted to Rangoon , Mandalay and other major cities in central Burma . Most of Karenni State receives no electricity at all, while the Karenni people continue to bear the impacts of the project. Land-mine fatalities have occurred repeatedly since the construction of the plants. On May 29, 2007, a 14-year-old girl from Lay Maing, Dee Mow Soe township died after stepping on a land mine while tending her cows near one of the power pylons. "The Lawpita hydropower projects have turned our farms into minefields. On this International Day of Action for Rivers, we urge China to consider the human costs of investing in such projects," said Moe Moe Aung of KDRG. Chinese and Thai companies are also planning five dams along the Salween River in Burma , which will permanently alter Southeast Asia 's longest undammed river and impact indigenous communities, including the Karenni.. Contact:Moe Moe AungPhone: 0899571867Email: For further information on the negative impacts of the Lawpita hydropower plants see the report "Dammed by Burma 's Generals" by KDRG on

Mekong ICT camp photo