Press release by the Shan Sapawa Environmental Organisation
April 1, 2013
The Burmese Army has given an ultimatum to the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) to clear its troops from the west bank of the Salween River in an area where Chinese companies are planning a mega dam.
On March 26, the Burmese Northeast Regional Commander ordered SSA-N troops to move out immediately from east of the Tangyan-Mong Kao road or face attack. SSA-N had been permitted to operate in this area under their original 1989 ceasefire agreement as well as under their new 2012 peace agreement.
Thousands of Burmese troops, artillery and tanks have been brought in since February from central Burma and Lashio, to Tangyan and Mong Hsu, south of Mong Kao.
Tangyan lies 20 kilometers southwest of Nong Pha, where one of six planned dams on the Salween in Burma is proceeding, as announced in Burma’s parliament on February 27. Little is known about the project 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 Megawatts.
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.
Burmese Army attacks against the SSA-N in mid-2011 for refusing to become a Border Guard Force forcibly displaced over 30,000 villagers, but received little media coverage due to the isolation of this area of Shan State.
“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.”
Shan Sapawa is urging a halt to all dam projects on the Salween River while peace negotiations are underway with the various ethnic armed resistance 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.”
Contact: Sai Khur Hseng +66 81 672 2031
Information from: http://www.burmariversnetwork.org/actions/press-releases/23-press-releases/886–burmese-military-stokes-war-in-northern-shan-state-to-clear-way-for-salween-dam.html