The Ywarthit Dam in Karenni State, Myanmar is a huge hydropower project planned for the Salween River. To date communities living nearby have not been consulted, and there is little attention by the media or wider public. Ko Thaike highlights the social and environmental impacts of the project, and says it’s time we talked about it.
Questions are being raised about the complicity of Thailand’s state-run power utility – EGAT under the Ministry of Energy – in serious human rights violations in the building of the massive US$10 billion Mong Ton (formerly called the Tasang) dam in the Upper Salween River in Myanmar.
At the first-ever International Conference on Salween-Thanlwin-Nu Studies, highlights include calls for an end to extractive development, progress towards cooperative river basin management, recognition of local knowledge, and participation of local people from within the river basin, including youth.
Laofang Bundidterdsakul is a Hmong indigenous human rights lawyer. He initiated the Salween Youth Research Project to restore people’s power along the Salween River who are seeking to protect the Salween River from a proposal for a hydropower cascade and take back decision-making about the use of the river.
The debate about the power of naming is long-running and contentious, engaging citizens and colonizers, academics and activists. “South” of China, “East” of India, Southeast Asia is a name that came primarily from people not native to these regions who instead imagined the region through acts of war and nation building.