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More Than 20,000 People Call on Mekong Governments to Cancel the Xayaburi Dam

 

For immediate release

 

November 30, 2011

Media Contacts:
Pianporn Deetes, Thailand
Campaign Coordinator, International Rivers, +66 81 422 0111,
pai@internationalrivers.org
Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla, Lawyer for the Community
Resources Centre, +66 81 772 5843
Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Program
Director, International Rivers, +855 92 569 113, ame@internationalrivers.org

 

 

U.S. Senate Committee Calls for Delay in Xayaburi
Dam


Bangkok, Thailand – 22,589 people from 106 countries submitted an
international petition today to the Prime Ministers of Laos and Thailand,
calling for cancellation of the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River in
Northern Laos. The petition comes one week before the four Mekong governments
meet on December 8th in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where they are likely to decide
whether to proceed with the project.

The Xayaburi Dam is the first of
eleven dams proposed for the Lower Mekong River. The petition expresses grave
concern about the future of the Lower Mekong Basin, and urges the Prime
Ministers to cancel the project and defer all decisions on Mekong dams for a
period of at least ten years, until further studies can be conducted. The
petition was presented to Thailand’s Government House and the Lao Embassy in
Bangkok on Wednesday.

“The people of Southeast Asia and concerned
citizens around the world have once again voiced their opposition to the
Xayaburi Dam,” said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for
International Rivers. “The whole world is watching. We do not want to remember
December 8th as the day the Mekong died.”

The petition comes a day after
the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a resolution by
Senator Jim Webb calling for the protection of the Mekong River Basin and for
delaying mainstream dam construction along the river. The resolution calls for
the U.S. Government to allocate more funding to help identify sustainable
alternatives to mainstream hydropower dams and to analyze the impacts of
proposed development along the river.

“The Committee’s adoption of this
resolution sends a timely signal of U.S. support for the Mekong River
Commission’s efforts to preserve the ecological and economic stability of
Southeast Asia,” Senator Webb, chair of the Senate East Asian and Pacific
Affairs Subcommittee, said in a statement. “The United States and the global
community have a strategic interest in preserving the health and well-being of
the more than 60 million people who depend on the Mekong River.”

Although
Laos is proposing the dam, Thailand is also playing a key role as investor,
project developer, and purchaser of 95% of the dam’s electricity. The petition
calls on the government of Thailand to cancel its plans to purchase electricity
from the Xayaburi Dam and any other Mekong Mainstream Dams.

“Laos has a
duty under international law to provide enough information about the regional
impacts of the Xayaburi project to allow its neighbors to make an informed
decision, but it has yet to do so,” said Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla, a lawyer for
the Community Resources Centre in Thailand and a member of Mekong Legal Network.
“Moreover, Thailand, as the primary beneficiary of the dam, should be equally
responsible for providing more information about the project's impacts. Under
international best practice, Thailand should assess all energy options before
deciding to dam a river of such importance for millions of people's livelihoods,
in line with the recommendations of the Strategic Environmental Assessment
sponsored by the Mekong River Commission.”

“Through this petition, the
international community has spoken out against the Xayaburi Dam as this is a
river of global significance,” said Guadalupe Rodriguez, a member of the
German-based organization Rettet den Regenwald (Rainforest Rescue), and one of
the sponsors of the petition. “We cannot allow a privileged few to trade away
the biodiversity and ecosystems that feed millions, as it would spark tension in
the region.”

At a meeting in April, the governments of Cambodia,
Thailand, and Vietnam raised concerns about the Xayaburi Dam’s transboundary
impacts and recommended further study and public consultations. The four
governments could not agree on a solution, and elevated the decision to a
ministerial meeting now scheduled for December 7-8.

More information:

 

 

International Rivers is an environmental and human rights organization with
staff in four continents. For over two decades, International Rivers has been at
the heart of the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities
that depend on them.

 

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