Stop demolishing the Mekong
Stop demolishing the Mekong, call Burma activists
Representatives of 52 Thai-based organizations had today presented a petition to China with a demand for an immediate halt to the blasting of the Mekong reefs due to begin on 15 December.
The appeal that was addressed to the Chinese ambassador to Thailand called for the suspension of the project until the following conditions were met:
Full and adequate Environmental and Social Impact Assessments;
Full information to and consultation with all potentially impacted communities;
Agreement with all countries along the Mekong basin, including Cambodia and Vietnam;
Approval by legitimately elected representatives of Burma; and
Investigation of alternative modes of transport.
The petition spoke of "great and unacceptable harm to millions of people living along the river as well as the natural environment" that the Mekong navigation Channel Improvement Project, signed two years ago by China, Laos, Thailand and Burma, would bring.
According to Bangkok Post, 1 December, even Thai locals learned about the project only after two rapids were blasted in April. (There are 23 rapids, shoals and reefs.)
Quoting the report from Australia-based Monash University, the paper said. There are no survey results reported for either Burma and Laos, raising the question as to whether the surveys (on social and environmental impacts) were actually carried out.
Kraisak Choonhavan, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, also commented, "If China could direct the river, they will be able to direct our economic activities and national security as well". (Bangkok Post, 3 December 2002)
Among the signatories of the petition
are All Burma Students Democratic Front, Arakan Liberation Party,
National League for Democracy, United Nationalities League Democracy
and Shan Democratic Union.
A copy of the petition was posted to Praphat Panyachartrak, Thai minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
The full text of the letter is attached.