Pa'O Youth Organization
EMBARGOED FOR JANUARY 20, 2010

Burma’s largest coal mine and coal-fired power plant, located thirteen miles from Burma’s famous Inle Lake in Shan State, are polluting waterways, threatening the health of local populations, and displacing villages, according to a report released today.

The report, Poison Clouds by local Pa-Oh researchers, exposes how up to two thousand tons of lignite, the most polluting type of coal, are being extracted per day from a massive open cast mine at Tigyit village. The coal is burned at the nearby power plant which produces 100-150 tons of toxic fly ash daily.

Dump piles from the mine are now towering above the homes of 3,000 people, blocking streams and contaminating fields. Dust and emissions, including from...

ASEAN youths have been engaged in the ASEAN People’s Forum since 2009. The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) has been organized by civil society and people’s organizations as a preparatory workshop toward youth involvement and meaningful participation in ASEAN. Mekong School Alumni has followed up with AYF activities since the 1st AYF in February, Bangkok, Thailand and 2nd AYF in October, Cha-am, Thailand. The latest AYF (3rd AYF) was held in Bavi district, Hanoi, Vietnam during 20-22 September 2010. Mekong School Alumni were involved in AYF as co-organizers and working teams to plan for activities, insert skill sharing and facilitate many sessions of the forum, and providing support for logistics and accommodation for alumni participants. The following AYF organizers also participated: Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population, Towards Transparency and Vietnam Youth Union.

Four Mekong School alumni participated in the AYF, including...

Mekong School Alumni including Dorn from Laos, Tu and Saiaew from Thailand collaborated as a working team in an outreach training for ethnic youths during 10th – 17th October. The training was conducted at a community located along the Ou River, a Mekong tributary in Muang Ngoi district, Luang Prabang province, Laos. The training program was initiated by Dorn, a Lao alumna, as part of the Green Laos Community project which focuses on promoting education and capacity building for youth on issues covering the environment, human rights, biodiversity, livelihood and indigenous culture preservation.

The alumni shared their experience and knowledge on the environment, biodiversity, climate change, human rights and gender equality. Many tools, materials and activities based on both practical interactive and individual learning approaches were introduced to the participants, such as Thai Bann research methodology, movies, songs, articles, books, websites, role plays, field trips,...

Mekong School Alumni Network was formed after the inaugural year of the Earthrights School Mekong in 1999 and has been growing in strength each year. The Mekong school alumni come from urma, Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam and represent diverse educational and ethnic backgrounds. They hold a variety of positions that range from human rights and environmental activists to fact-finders, journalists and education professionals. Overall, the Mekong alumni campaign throughout the region to increase participation of affected communities and civil society in the regional development process. The Mekong alumni strategically meet throughout the year to develop campaigns and provide overall support within the network. To learn more about the alumni, refer to the map below. It shows the distribution of our alumni throughout the Mekong Subregion.


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Mekong Alumni from Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Burma attended several workshops focusing on Women and Climate Change in Bangkok from September 27-October 8th. The workshops were planned to coincide with the UNFCC Inter-sessional Conference, International Climate and Strategy Conference and Regional Workshop on Power Alternatives. At the workshops, Mekong alumni took part in developing strategies for action and cooperation between women´s groups throughout Asia.

At the workshops, alumni discussed climate finance and the role of free trade, the existence of an "ecological debt" between Annex I and non-Annex I countries, and emphasized the importance of not including large hydro and nuclear power projects into the carbon trading market. Alumni joined the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) at the UN building, where they advocated for enhanced action on the development and transfer of technology, and joined a conference on...

During the first semester of 2008, thanks to the support of our funders ERI Alumni Small Grants Program was able to assist 7 projects of the ERSB Alumni. The projects included trainings, workshops, research, and a journal publication. These projects present possible solutions to the explicit needs of specific target groups, and they can be considered as paradigms that will set the basis for social change in Burma

During 2008, Life Vision Foundation was able to continue the second phase of their research project about the impact that gold mining in Kachin State has on women and children. In 2007, EarthRights Alumni Small Grants Program supported the initial part of this project in which   research   was carried out during 3 months. The second part consisted of doing a 2 month in-depth research. LVF researchers went to the five different villages near the Mali Nmai where there are gold...

During the second semester of 2007, the ERI Alumni Small Grants Program was able to award grants to 5 different projects from our Alumni and their organizations. The projects included trainings, a book publication, research, and organizational support. They were selected from a significant number of proposals based on the quality of the project proposed, their innovative ideas, and their commitment to meet specific needs in communities.

Pan Kachin Development Society and Life Vision Foundation pooled their skills to do research about the impact that mining activities in Kachin State has on women and children. The main purpose of the project was to raise awareness about the negative consequences of mining through the publication of a book and a video. This is a long term project; the grant will support the first phase of the research project as requested in their proposal.

Another project that focused on research was...

A one day follow-up reunion was held on November 14 directly after the Mainstream Mekong Dams conference at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. The follow-up reunion provided an opportunity to revisit the goals established at the Si Phan Don reunion in light of new information gathered at the Mainstream Mekong Dams conference, and to include alumni who were not able to join the Si Phan Don reunion in the network's joint campaign plans. The Mekong Alumni Network set the overall goal of the reunion as "to identify goals and strategies and create work plans for our collaborative campaign to stop dams on the Mekong Mainstream." In support of this goal, the group aimed to (1) identify overall campaign goals (short and long term), (2) discuss and agree upon coordinated strategies to achieve these goals, (3) agree on a work plan to achieve goals (who is doing what and when), and (4) discuss budgets needed to achieve goals. 

On November 11-13, Mekong School students, alumni, and staff attended an international conference entitled Mekong Mainstream Dams: People's Voices across Borders at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok . The conference provided an opportunity for civil society and national and regional policy makers to exchange views and experiences on the problems of hydropower dams in the Mekong region, particularly those on the mainstream Mekong . 

Over 250 conference participants worked together to promote a greater role for civil society to develop alternatives to Mekong mainstream dams in meeting the region's energy demands. Mekong school students and alumni actively participated throughout the three day event. Thai student Thanasak and Lao student Nonglak presented findings from their recent field work at the site of the proposed Ban Koum Dam. Nonglak was the first researcher to successfully gain access to the politically sensitive area on the Lao side of the Mekong , and her report...

In August of 2008, the Mekong School held its first reunion, bringing together twenty-seven participants from three generations of students at Si Phan Don, Southern Lao PDR. ERI Asia Director Chana Maung, Jessica Rosien of Oxfam Australia , and Mekong school staff and volunteers also joined the group. The Si Phan Don area is the site of the controversial Don Sahong Dam, where Lao and Cambodian alumni are working to mitigate adverse impacts on riverside communities.

During the five-night, four-day reunion, three generations of Mekong School students shared their challenges and accomplishments following graduation and renewed their motivation for working for human rights and environmental justice. Alumni met in country groups to prioritize earth rights challenges currently facing their communities, and reported back to the larger group. Based on these reports, the...

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