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The Burma Rivers Network supports the Buddhist Sangha and citizens of Burma who seek solutions to Burma’s economic problems, release of political prisoners, genuine national reconciliation and the end of brutal military rule. We condemn the use of violence against unarmed, peaceful protestors. We call on neighbouring countries to pressure the junta to forego further violence against monks and civilian protestors.
Energy development deals with the military junta are by far the largest source of financial and political support to the regime. We call on Thailand, China, Bangladesh and India to withdraw from planned joint ventures. The multibillion-dollar energy projects push the military junta into ongoing environmental destruction and human rights.
The military junta ordered their forces to open fire on peaceful protestors. Monastery doors were smashed in and hundreds of monks were seized, beaten and dragged away. Thousands of civilians and monks are imprisoned, facing torture or secret execution . Hundreds have been killed or disappeared.
This violence is consistent with other aspects of Burma’s misrule. Along the Salween River where large dams are planned, a 60-year war continues with the help of neighboring countries. Burning, looting, landmines, forced relocation, forced labor, systematic rape, and extrajudicial killings are everyday occurrences. Ongoing partnerships with the Myanmar dictatorship will directly support arms acquisitions and military offensives against Burmese citizens
Dams on the Salween River alone could cost at least US $20 billion – a king’s ransom for the junta. In the second-most corrupt country in the world, this money will benefit the military, not nation or its people.
Burmese citizens must endure enormous hardships under the brutal and economically incompetent regime. Fuel price increases and attendant inflation devastate families’ lives throughout the impoverished nation. Despite Burma’s lack of electricity, hydropower and natural gas will be exported to fund further military expansion.
Dams in Burma built for neighbors, and the associated environmental catastrophe, will continue social and human health crises. Big dams like China’s Three Gorges Dam, are now recognized as creating more trouble than they solve. Dams in war-zones will bring even more problems, as the people of Thailand, India and China have already come to know.
Fisheries, floods and loss of farmland will disrupt the livelihoods of millions of people in many countries. The Salween Dams will displace 73,000 villagers in addition to the hundreds of thousands of people already forced to relocate. Thailand and other neighbors, in their quest for cheap energy, will face ever more refugees.
Engaging the military rulers of Burma brings responsibility for heinous crimes against Burma’s people, monks and morality. China has recently been strongly promoting the “8 Honors and Disgraces,” India its Gandhian heritage, and Thailand’s military government also promotes higher morality. Supporting the murderous Myanmar dictatorship is irreconcilable with a peace-centered ethical position.
Given recent attacks against unarmed, peaceful monks and demonstrators, we call on Thailand, China, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh and other countries to recognize these grave abuses. Burma’s partners should withdraw from business deals with the Burmese regime to stop further militarization and oppression of the people of Burma. The international community and civil society can and must actively encourage China, India, and ASEAN to establish targeted sanctions in the form of disinvestment from Burma’s destructive hydropower projects. Finally, we all must unite to pressure to the military regime to refrain from using force against peaceful protestors, and to respect the basic rights and needs of the nation’s people, especially the rights to life and livelihood.
Burma Rivers Network is made up of ethnic community organizations that represent people potentially affected by dams throughout Burma. We believe that use of resources must be based on ecological sustainability and social justice.