Kachin churches in Burma’s northern Kachin State joined in prayer to strengthen their opposition to the huge dam construction at the Myitsone, the confluence of the Mali Hka River and N’Mai Hka River.
Church leaders in the Kachin capital, Myitkyina, gathered yesterday at the Myitsone village of Tang Hpre, to join in a special prayer service with villagers seeking to halt dam construction at Myitsone, a significant site in the history of Kachin civilization, participants said.
The prayer service was a show of solidarity- with Churches showing their support of the Tang Hpre villagers, who have criticized the government’s attempts to relocate them since the dam construction started in December 2009, church leaders said.
Over a hundred participants from Baptist, Roman Catholic and other Christian denominations joined in Wednesday’s prayers at the village’s Catholic Church, 27 miles north of Myitkyina, said villagers.
A villager told Thailand-based Kachin News Group, “All villagers are constantly worried and upset because we are threatened with forced relocation by Burmese military authorities and Asia World Company. We don’t want to move away from our village.”
So far, the military authorities forced 20 families to relocate on Nov. 25, 2010 and 30 families on Jan. 25, 2011, according to Salang Tsa Ji, General Secretary of the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG).
Tang Hpre is the last village slated for relocation by the authorities at the dam construction site. March 31st is the deadline to complete relocation of the village, according to villagers.
“We welcome this kind of prayer service to strengthen our opposition of the relocation of our village,” a villager said. “We are happy to work together with others seeking ways to stop the forced relocation.”
The dam is being constructed by Burma’s Asia World Company, owned by former drug lord, Lo Hsing Han, and China’s state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CIP). Security for the project is being provided by the Burmese military.
The Myitsone dam is one of seven dams on the headwaters of the Irrawaddy River, in Kachin State. It will produce 6,000 MW of electricity. Most of the electricity produced by the dam projects will be sold to China.
The Kachin people officially appealed to Burmese military leader, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, in 2007, asking him to stop the Myitsone dam project. However, their request was ignored.