Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Protesters Visit Thai Consulate

Today members of the Burma support group conducted a protest at the Thai consulate, delivering a letter to the Royal Thai consulate general and informing embassy staff of the Thai government’s complicity with the brutal Burmese dictatorship. The protest was in response to Thai support for two mega, hydroelectric dams on the Salween river - mainland Southeast Asia’s longest undammed river. The dam would displace entire communities and displace villagers who currently practice sustainable methods of farming as well as fishing for some of the 70 species of fish found in the river. The Burmese military is well known for its brutality displacing hundreds of thousands of people in the area, burning villages and torturing civilians. Protesters handed out leaflets to passers by in an attempt to draw attention to this unreported and largely ignored issue.

Worldwide dams are one of the largest and most visible symbols of environmental degradation, trapping silt and often engulfing sensitive and beautiful areas. Dams prevent normal flooding cycles starving areas downstream of nutrients and destroying habitat for fish species – many of which are on the verge of extinction. The answer to the world’s problems is not more expensive centralized infrastructure such as hydroelectric dams – which require strong and armed governments to build, defend and maintain them. Environmentalists and Human Rights activists must not accept the choices laid out by our governments between coal and dams and must instead work with local community’s to help provide micro generation and to minimize consumption of fossil fuels.

The need for electricity is a manufactured need and ultimately it is unsustainable. The people who currently rely upon the Salween river deserve our support. To get involved contact nzburma@xtra.co.nz

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