In advance of the Mekong River Commission’s Informal Donor Meeting this week, the Save the Mekong Coalition writes the open letter to express serious and ongoing concern over the outstanding issues and questions surrounding hydropower dam construction on the mainstream of the Mekong River.
The Coalition calls on Mekong River Commission developments partners to:
Renew their calls to the MRC to effect the release of the current designs for the Xayaburi dam and clarification of the status of the Prior Consultation process for the Don Sahong Dam;
Require reform of the MRC’s procedures before any further project is commenced, including requirements for comprehensive assessments and release of information, meaningful public participation and the transparent resolution of disputes;
Reconsider their support to the MRC if it remains unable to fulfil the purpose of ensuring adherence to the spirit and principles of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.
Statement of the Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces
Listen to Downstream Communities Stop All Mekong Dams Implement Transboundary Impacts Studies
Mekong River is the mother of lives and the giver of local economies in 8 provinces of Thailand, from the Golden Triangle in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai Province to Chiang Khan, Loei Province and Khong Chiam, Ubonratchatani Province. But the construction of hydropower dams in Yunnan, China—since the first dam and now a total of 6 completed dams out of the 15 planned projects—Mekong River has lost its nature to cascade hydropower dams and navigation of large cargo ships for the past 20 years and counting.
Today, the leaders of all Mekong countries gather together in China for the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation meeting—an initiative led by China. We, The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces who have been monitoring development projects in the Mekong River with Thai communities, call the Thai and the Mekong governments to:
Admit and immediately mitigate impacts caused by China’s totalitarian water management on the upper Mekong River/Lancang that have happened already for many years, especially transboundary impacts posed by hydropower projects and water release for Chinese large cargo ships navigation. These development projects fail to recognize local communities’ rights and unprecedented environmental impacts downstream.
Immediately find resolutions for existing transboundary impacts and mitigation measures for damages and losses caused by unseasonal abrupt water level fluctuations—including flooding due to dam discharge and dry water level and rapids blasting during the development of Mekong Navigation Project.
Stop and suspend all dam projects in the lower Mekong basin. These projects have ignored to respect participations of the Mekong people who dependent on the river to sustain their livelihoods and economies. Public participation must be implemented and enforced to prevent grave environmental and social impacts on downstream communities.
Create an accountable and participatory water management mechanism that foster inclusive public participation especially from riparian communities who are directly affected by the projects.
Mekong River is the Mother River of Southeast Asia. We have coexisted and relied on her since the ancestral time. We do not want anyone to take our Mother River away and use it simply for political interests.
The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces 23 March 2016
Awaiting governments to confirm their attendance at the Mekong People’s Forum next week.
5 November 2015 – On 25 September 2015, local people’s networks in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam released a joint statement entitled: “Mekong governments: Listen to the people! – Statement by local people on dams in the Mekong Region” (attached). The statement calls on the governments of the Mekong region to recognize the severe impacts of large-scale hydropower dams on the Mekong mainstream and tributaries within the Mekong basin and to listen to the concerns of local communities who would be affected by these projects.
“We request direct dialogue between the Mekong region’s governments and peoples’ representatives through public forums,” reads the statement. “We call on governments to come to a public forum which will be organized and attended by Mekong local peoples’ representatives; to listen and learn from us about the impacts of the dams.”
The original statement was signed by 15 local representatives from three countries plus 10 supporting organisations and one academic as an individual supporter. One month later, the statement has received recognition and support from more than 4,500 signatories. Among all those who signed, over 4,000 signatures and thumbprints come from the local people who live along the Mekong River and have directly experienced the changes in the Mekong River in recent years.
All the signatures, with the total to be counted early next week, will be presented to government ministers from all four lower Mekong countries; those who are directly responsible for decision-making over the future of the Mekong Basin. Invitations were sent, together with copies of the statement, to Ministers of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, to invite them to the Mekong People’s Public Forum, which will take place on 11 November at An Giang University, An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
The Regional Public Forum, “Local Mekong people’s voices: the message to Mekong governments on Mekong dams”(program attached), will be a gathering of nearly one hundred participants. Among them will be at least twenty representatives from local Mekong communities from Cambodia and Thailand. The majority of participants will be Vietnamese local communities, civil society groups and academic groups from Vietnam. This event is highly significant: it will be the first public forum of its kind, bringing together local people across the region to share their concerns over hydropower dams.
The Mekong local groups, however, until now are still waiting for the formal reply from the Mekong governments as to whether they are willing to join the historic Mekong People’s Forum.
“This forum belongs to us, the local Mekong people’s communities and citizens. I believe that the gathering will get bigger and bigger from now on. The problems from Mekong dams have been too severe for all of us, and without any real solution and understanding from Mekong governments, we the people will no longer able to protect our rivers from the aggressive encroachment of those dam builders. We will therefore continue to call until we have the government representatives really come, listen and admit their responsibility in protecting the Mekong basin, our livelihoods and the security of the region overall” states Mr. Channarong Wongla, from the local group Hug Chiang Khan in the Northeastern Mekong provinces in Thailand.
The Second MRC Summit will be organized on 5th April 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City, following the consensus made by heads of MRC member states in the first Summit in Hua Hin in 2010. This quadrennial event demonstrates the highest level of political commitment to the implementation of the Mekong Agreement. The Second Summit will focus the discussions of MRC state leaders on progress of implementation of the Hua Hin Declaration, among other importants issues. There are also a number of other high-level events organized before the Summit, including an international conference, MRC Joint Committee meeting, and MRC Council meeting.
The panel discussion “The Journey from Hua Hin to Ho Chi Minh City and Future of the Mekong River” is open to the public, especially media, to join and share with speakers their views and comments.