On behalf of the Kachin Environmental Organization and Kachin people, we would like peace and human security in Burma. Currently, the conflict between Kachin armed groups and Burmese military troops in Kachin state has been destructive of human security, and has had a tremendous effect on peoples' livelihood and natural resources. The Kachin Environmental Organization had released the report "Damming the Irrawaddy", which is the dam causing problems today. Earlier, we shared and distributed information about the human and natural resource disasters caused by projects of the military regime, which are causing conflict in the region today.

Our organization has provided a signature campaign within Kachin State on hydropower projects, illegal logging and mining. The military-backed government had no change their policy on causing conflict in ethnic areas. Regarding examinings we have been doing over few years, the military regime seems to be eradicating beautiful Kachin land....

Nuclear power is controversial due to its risks and environmental and social impacts that will linger for hundreds of thousands of years. The March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant following an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami bring to mind some of the underlying risks of nuclear power. In light of the recent catastrophe, public concerns over nuclear power have once again risen to the forefront of public debate.

In the Mekong region, China has rapidly developed many nuclear plants. Burma’s nuclear machinations are opaque at best. While the Thai and Vietnamese governments are keen to promoting nuclear power as clean power for future national power self-sufficiency and economic development. In Thailand, nuclear power plant projects along the coast have been proposed. Communities in the proposed areas have been mobilizing intensive campaigns to stop these projects. In spite of the protests, the feasibility of these projects is being studied in...

The collapse of the tea market plunges tea farmers into crisis

Ta’ang (Palaung) Working Group has revealed and released a briefing paper on the huge economic crisis that Ta’ang people are facing in 2011 due to the decline of tea prices and the collapse of the tea market. 

Although the tea price was good and many tea traders bought tea during the Shwe Pyi Oo (first harvest), one week later the price of tea fell sharply and only a few traders were buying tea. Consequently, the tea market became very weak and tea production almost came to a halt.  Tea production is the main source of income for over (600,000) six hundred thousand Ta'ang people.

As the main source of income of the Ta’ang people is in crisis, the local population are facing many economic, social, educational and health related problems. These problems, have forced many Ta’ang people to migrate within Burma and to other countries.

According to the local people, almost all the...

EarthRights is delighted to provide an update on the implementation of a number of projects by alumni from our EarthRights School Burma. These projects were funded under the Second Round of ERI’s Burma Alumni Small Grants Program. We have been receiving reports from successful grant recipients, and are happy to hear of the many successes our alumni are having in training future activists in Burma and fostering awareness about human and environmental rights.

A recent alumnus held three days of training in Burma to help the local farmers become more sustainable in their farming practices. The participants first learned about the environmental degradation caused by “slash-and-burn” farming, the traditional means of farming in the area. Secondly, the instructors were able to teach the participants how to create and use natural fertilizers and pesticides to ensure their practices become more sustainable in the future. This training was combined with community development training...

Mekong School Alumni from Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Thailand attended the ASEAN 2011 civil society forum in Jakarta, Indonesia to advocate for a people-centered and sustainable ASEAN community.

The forum ran from May 1-5. The alumni participants brought to the forum shared concerns and challenges from their communities. Echo from China was the first Chinese participant in the ASEAN Youth Forum. She shared concerns about China’s emerging involvement in the ASEAN region and the trans-boundary consequences of overseas investment.

“I hope after this we can encourage more Chinese participants and more youth from China working on this issue to come to the ASEAN Youth Forum to share, learn and exchange ideas and to see what we can work on together”, said Echo.

Kanal, Van and Echo presented three case studies on coal mining project in Stung Hav provincel in Cambodia, Xayabury dam in Laos, and China’s involvement through its overseas investment in Mekong...

This April, Lao alumna Dorn opened a local knowledge center in Don Sahong village, situated in the Mekong’s Four Thousand Islands region (known as Si Phan Don in Lao). The Lao government has proposed that a dam be built here, which would have grave consequences for the area’s food security, biodiversity and tourism.

Dorn has worked with local communities in Si Phan Don for two years, enhancing their ability to promote and protect their environmental interests. She has been monitoring the legal processes at both the national and local levels, finally receiving approval from the local government to establish her center.

The center aims to become a platform for the exchange of knowledge, opening a communications channel for grassroots media. It also provides activities for villagers and youths meant to empower them to fight for sustainable development, protect their ecosystem and encourage sustainable tourism. The center also addresses larger issues, such as...

Produced entirely by alumni of the EarthRights School Mekong, Lives of Ou River is a documentary film that follows the everyday lives of the people who live along the Ou River in Northern Laos. It aims to raise awareness of the river’s incredible biodiversity and the livelihoods that depend on it. In March, the movie was screened in March at the Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival (YUNFEST) in Kunming, China.

The project began when the EarthRights School Mekong Alumni Network collaborated on an environment and livelihood training in Muang Ngoi, a village along the Ou River. The training was led by Dorn, a Lao alumna who runs Green Laos Community Project. Afterwards, several different generations of alumni from Lao, Thailand and China worked to film, conduct interviews and edit the movie into a final project. The filmmaking team included Dorn and Bounsing from Laos, Tu and Saiaew from...

Since October of last year, ERSM alumni have been diligently monitoring, organizing and speaking out against a planned hydropower dam in Lao’s Xayaburi province, just over the border from Thailand. The dam’s progress has been tainted by the Lao government’s unwillingness to involve the people who will be affected by it, likely losing their homes and livelihoods.

The Xayaburi hydropower dam project is one of 11 proposed dams on the lower Mekong mainstream. It is the first dam to undergo the Prior Notification, Prior Consultation Procedures (PNPCA) as per the 1005 Mekong Agreement, which requires prior inter-governmental consultation among MRC member countries.

The PNPCA process officially started on October 22nd, 2010. The consultation meetings were held in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia between January and February. The process was widely criticized for its lack of meaningful participation and transparency, specifically because no Environmental Impact...

Mekong Children’s Day took place on the 8th and 9th of January in Had Kham Phi village in Loei, a province of Thailand’s Northeast. The was the third Children’s Day event organized by Phairoh Suchinpram, a Mekong School alumnus from 2008 currently working at the Center for Children and Social Development. The organization has been extremely successful raising the voices of Mekong communities, expressing their concern over the environmental and social impacts from the eleven dams currently proposed on the Mekong.

Mekong Alumni from Thailand and Vietnam joined the festivities to learn about the campaign strategies that have been used.

Phairoh Suchinpram
Phairoh said that the objectives of the Mekong Children’s Day is to create a strong relationship between the communities in the area as well as outsiders, fostering open discussion about environmental problems related to existing and planned Mekong mainstream dams.

“...

Phairin Sosai, a Mekong alumna from 2006, has been awarded a grant from ERI to co-organize events for Mekong’s Children’s Day 2011. Pharin is working with local NGOs supporting communities and civil group who are monitoring and raising awareness of a proposed Mekong mainstream dam at Ban Kum in Ubon Rachatani province, Thailand.

This event was held on 8 January 2011 in Tamui village, Khong Chiam district, Ubon Ratchathani province. The Children’s Day events  aim to strengthen Thai –Lao friendship at the community level and provide information to locals and the public about the development situation along the Mekong, especially those proposed along the Thai-Lao border.  At the same time, outsiders will have an opportunity to learn about the way of life for people along the Mekong.

The villagers in Ban Kum are struggling against a proposed Mekong dam that would destroy their livelihoods. Most of the people who live along the border do not have Thai or Lao citizenship,...

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