petition to the Thai government at the ASEAN People’s Forum demanding
an immediate halt to dam plans on the Salween River to avoid being
drawn into Burma’s escalating civil war.
The groups cited recent increased military operations and human rights
abuses by the Burmese regime around the sites of the planned Hat Gyi
dam in Karen State and Ta Sang dam in Shan State, and warned that the
projects would never provide guaranteed energy security for Thailand.
The regime has stepped up attacks against the Karen National Union to
gain control over roads and power transmission routes to the planned
1,360 megawatt Hat Gyi dam and driven over 3,500 new refugees into
Thailand since June.
Fresh fighting has also erupted in Shan State, as the regime has
attempted to bring the ceasefire armies under its control as “Border
Guard Forces.” Imminent attacks against the United Wa State Army,
which controls the access routes between the planned 7,110 megawatt Ta
Sang dam and the Thai border, would lead to a massive new refugee
influx into northern Thailand.
“The Salween dams will only mean more fighting and more refugees
fleeing to Thailand,” said Sai Sai, Coordinator of the Salween Watch
Thailand currently depends on Burma’s natural gas for 12.2% of its
total installed power capacity, and has recently suffered from supply
interruptions. The dams would significantly increase Thailand’s
dependency on Burma.
“Building dams in Burma’s war zones makes no sense if Thailand wants a
stable power supply,” said Montree Chantawong of the Thai-based
environmental group TERRA.
Five large dams are being planned on the Salween River in Burma, four
to export power to Thailand, and one to China. The regime’s attacks
against the Kokang in northern Shan State, which drove over 37,000
refugees into China in August, secured control of areas around the
Upper Salween Dam, being planned by Chinese companies at Kunlong.