Save the Mekong Coalition Calls on MRC Council: Pass Resolution to Cancel Xayaburi Dam

Press Release: For Immediate Release

[6 December 2011] As the Ministers of the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) Council prepare to meet tomorrow to discuss whether to proceed with the Xayaburi Dam, the Save the Mekong coalition, a network of civil society groups and NGOs from within the Mekong region and around the world, has sent a letter addressed to the MRC Council today urging them to pass a resolution calling for the cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam. The letter states that the Council meeting represents a final opportunity for the MRC member governments to demonstrate their commitment to the spirit and the legal duty of the 1995 Mekong Agreement to share the Mekong River and to prevent harm to the river’s ecosystems and the livelihood of its people.

Representing the Save the Mekong Coalition, the letter, co-signed by 39 civil society groups and NGOs, urges the governments to consider the significant opposition to the Xayaburi Dam that has been expressed by civil society and the wider public over the past three years. Over the last week, petitions representing nearly 50,000 people from within the region and around the world have called on the Lao and Thai Prime Ministers to cancel their plans to build and purchase electricity from the Xayaburi Dam.

“Our message is simple: Protecting the Mekong River is vital to ensuring healthy fisheries, abundant agriculture, and supporting the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the region,” said Mr. Chhith Sam Ath of the NGO Forum on Cambodia. “As the first hydropower dam proposed for the Mekong River’s mainstream, the dam’s devastating impacts to river’s ecosystem, fisheries, and river-based livelihoods is likely to lead to serious cross-border conflict.”

The Save the Mekong coalition’s letter coincides with the release of three full-page advisements in the Bangkok Post, Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily newspapers, in which the coalition calls on the Prime Ministers of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam to say no to the proposal to build the Xayaburi Dam, and instead to protect the Mekong River and its people. Given that the Mekong River is unparalleled in its biodiversity and rich fisheries, the advisements warn of the dire consequences that building the Xayaburi Dam and other Mekong dams will mean on the world’s largest freshwater fishery.

“Numerous scientific reports over the past two years have revealed the risky nature of damming the Mekong River. In view of this mounting evidence, rather than gamble with our future, the Council should lead the region towards a new vision for the river and the region, and carefully reconsider plans to build the mainstream dams” said Mr. Trinh Le Nguyen of Viet Nam’s People and Nature Reconciliation.

“The Mekong River’s rich resources and the ecosystem services it provides risk passing the point of collapse if the Xayaburi Dam and other mainstream dams are allowed to proceed. It is time for our governments to intervene and ask Laos to cancel plans to build the Xayaburi Dam and for Thailand to refuse to purchase its electricity, so that we still have fish left for the future,” said Mr. Ittipol Komesuk, Coordinator of Thailand’s Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces.

“Over the last year, the Xayaburi Dam has divided governments and people,” said Mr. Srisuwan Kuankachorn of Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance. “We urge regional leaders to take a precautionary approach by issuing a resolution calling for the cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam. In the end, it’s not a technical decision, but a political decision that will reshape politics in this tiny but problematic region of the world.”

Read the Save the Mekong letter to the MRC Council

Media Contacts:

Mr. Srisuwan Kuankachorn, Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), Bangkok, Thailand. Tel: +66 81 431 4525, E: srisuwan@terraper.org

Ms. Shamali Guttal, Focus on the Global South, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tel: +855 17 489 763, E: s.guttal@focusweb.org

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath, The NGO Forum on Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tel: +855 12 928 585, E: samath@ngoforum.org.kh

Mr. Trinh Le Nguyen, People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Hanoi, Viet Nam. Tel: +84 912 095 045, E: nguyen@nature.org.vn

Mr. Ittipol Komesuk, Coordinator of Thailand’s Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces, Nongkhai Province, Thailand: Tel: +66 84 962 8586

Ms. Ame Trandem, International Rivers, Bangkok, Thailand. Tel: +66 86 882 2426, E: ame@internationalrivers.org

The Save the Mekong coalition is a network of non-government organizations, community groups, academics, journalists, artists, fishers, farmers and ordinary people from within the Mekong countries and internationally. For more information on the coalition and the impacts of the planned Mekong mainstream dams in English and regional languages, please visit: www.SavetheMekong.org.

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