Despite Myitsone dam halt government to destroy village

042810-tang-hpreMYITKYINA, Burma — All homes and other buildings in a village next to the site of the officially suspended Myitsone dam project have been ordered destroyed by Burmese government authorities, according to displaced residents from Tang Hpre.

The order issued March 6 warns that those who attempt to disrupt or otherwise disobey the destruction of the once thriving village face prison terms, said a local lawyer. The demolition order does however exempt a Kachin Church and Buddhist temple located in the village.

According to the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG) an environmental activist NGO that played a key role in opposing the Myitsone at Tang Hpre “all public buildings including schools and orange orchards, were destroyed in order to discourage people from returning home".

The government's latest ultimatum was delivered at a meeting between displaced villagers from Tang Hpre and U Khin Maung Cho, a former senior military officer turned civilian who now heads the Myitkyina district administration.

A villager who attended the meeting with Khun Maung Cho, told Kachin News Group, "We have been instructed to break down all houses by March 17.  We have yet to make any decision whether we will obey the order or not.  We villagers are currently discussing the issue".

On Monday, more than 20 villagers including a Kachin Roman Catholic nun were arrested for several hours by authorities.  After a lengthy round of questioning they were eventually released.

The arrests appear to be in retaliation for the villagers inviting famed Burmese student leader Min Ko Naing to a group prayer session at the village last week.  Min Ko Naing and several recently released political prisoners called on the government to allow the villagers to return to their homes.

Of the five villages that were forcibly relocated in 2010 and 2011 to make way for the dam, three of them were completely bulldozed it appears Tang Hpre will suffer the same fate.

Dam construction moving forward despite Thein Sein's halt
According to KDNG the Myitsone dam project has continued despite Thein Sein's announcement that it would be postponed. CPI, the Chinese firm behind the project continues to build an electric transformer at Nawng Hkying village in Waimaw Township. CPI workers also remain at the dam site and in nearby Myitkyina.

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