Christian leaders questioned over anti-dam campaign

Jul 29, 2008 (DVB), Christian religious leaders in Kachin state in northern Burma have been interrogated by local authorities about a poster campaign against the government’s ongoing Chibwe dam project.

Kachin Development Network chairman U Aung Wah said Christian religious leaders in Chibwe had been summoned for interrogation by local authorities after anti-dam posters appeared in the town on 13 July.

They were called up again on 24 July and pressured to find out who was behind the poster movement.

"The male and female pastors were called to the police station one at a time and pressured to find out who was behind the posters , the officials insisted that they knew there was a link between the pastors and the poster campaign," said U Aung Wah.

"They were forced to sign an agreement saying that they would find out who the culprits were."

The Chibwe dam project was started on the Chibwe river early this year as a joint project between a Chinese company and the Myanmar-Asia World Company.

The project has so far led to forced seizures of land from farmers in the region and also destruction of the local environment, U Aung Wah said.

"They have seized gardens and farmland from the locals and the project has destroyed all the roads in the area," he said.

"Locals have appealed to the companies to stop the project , but they just do whatever they want with the assistance of local military and the police."

He added this is the eighth dam project that has been developed in the region by the two companies.

"Their main intention is to find gold and other minerals under the river bed while they are building dams across the rivers," he said.

The Kachin News Group reported in January that thousands of villagers had been issued notices from the dam construction company pressuring them to relocate.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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