WWF-Viet Nam, RECOFTC, and People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) have…
For Immediate Release
Thursday, November 12, 2015
6,400 Signatures and Thumbprints Submitted in Support of Local People’s Statement On Mekong Dams at Mekong People’s Forum
An Giang, Vietnam – More than 100 people gathered yesterday in An Giang, Vietnam for the historic Mekong People’s Forum: “Local Mekong People’s Voices: the message to Mekong governments on Mekong dams.” Participants included community members from the Tonle Sap lake, communities along the Mekong and 3S Rivers in Cambodia, from Northern and Northeastern Thailand’s communities along the Mekong and from An Giang, Dak Lak and Ca Mau, Vietnam. Most people have already experienced direct impacts from dams on the Mekong and its tributaries. The meeting marks the first time that communities from different Mekong countries have organized themselves to create a common platform from which to raise their concern regarding the impacts of existing and planned hydropower projects on the Mekong River.
At the forum, community representatives presented a statement by local people entitled “Mekong governments: Listen to the People!” to regional governments, signed by more than 6,400 local people from the Mekong River Basin, along with supporting organizations and individuals. The statement calls for Mekong governments to urgently listen to the concerns of the people, and to respect the rights of local communities to make decisions about the future of their lives and able to continue in protecting their rivers.
“Cambodia will have to the bare the most severe impacts of the Mekong dams on fisheries, especially from the Don Sahong Dam,” said Sam At, a fisherman from Tonle Sap, Cambodia. “We want to know why the Don Sahong Dam and other dams keep being pushed forward and why none of the governments will listen to us.”
The common problems and concerns with Mekong dams and their impact to fisheries, ecology, hydrology and the loss of land along the Mekong, have been shared by people in Lao PDR, Thailand and Cambodia over the past two decades, while Vietnam has expressed increasing concern over the change in quantity and quality of water, the loss of sediment and intrusion of saline water to agriculture land and fishery production due to both hydropower dams and climate change. Significant impacts have been felt since the first mega dams on the upper Mekong mainstream in China started construction, and in other Mekong tributaries from the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand, Yali Fall Dam in Vietnam, and now from the first lower Mekong mainstream dam, the Xayaburi Dam being built by Lao PDR. One of the most pressing concerns held by Mekong people at this time is the impending construction of the Don Sahong Dam, which will block one of the key channels in the region for fish migration throughout the lower Mekong Basin.
“We who have grown up with the river are able to see even the smallest changes. Over the last ten years we have seen the water levels drop and the fish stocks diminish. “We are worried about our future and the future of our children.” Said Mrs Huynh Thi Kim Duyen, a community representative from Ca mau province, Vietnam.
Mekong local people gathered in the forum were encouraged by the unity and commitment among themselves and expressed that the local people’s movement will continue to grow bigger and stronger. The problems related to Mekong dams have not yet been recognized or resolved, therefore communities commit to work together across countries, to unify the stance and concerns of local people in countries affected by hydropower projects.
“We have a serious question about the Mekong River Commission (MRC). With their knowledge, they cannot make the Mekong governments consider the true cost of these dams and the impact to us. The local Mekong people have also now conducted many clearer assessments of the impacts to our rivers. I therefore ask why we need to have MRC. We now propose instead the Mekong People’s council, as a platform to reflect the real concern of Mekong people,” Said Chirasak Inthayod, the Hug Chiang Khong Group from Northern Thailand.
The forum plans to submit the statement with around 8,000 signatures/thumbprints, in two weeks time, to all Mekong governments through the Mekong Ministers responsible for Mekong dams.
“The Mekong River belongs to all countries and all people,” said Amnart Trijak, a community leader from Nakornphanon Province, Thailand. “The governments have to stop looking only at their own territory. To do this is not reflecting the reality of our shared river. We the people should be able to take a key part in decision-making processes over the future of the rivers.”
Mr. Long Sochet, Representative of Cambodia Community Fisheries (CCF) – Tel: +855 12 989 318
Mr. Youk Senglong, Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FAC) – Email: email@example.com – Tel: +855 12 768609
Mr. Channarong Vongla, Representative from Hug Chiang Khan Group, Thailand – Tel:+66 890 212 004
Ms. Premrudee DaoroungTowards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA) – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel: +66 81 4342334
Mr. Vo Thanh Trang, Representative of An Giang Community, Vietnam – Tel: +84 945 320 719
Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Van, Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN) – Email: email@example.com – Tel: +84 163 603 7853
The Forum was supported to be organized by People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN), Foundation for Ecological Recovery (TERRA) and An Giang University.