A Burmese environmentalist has been honoured with a prestigious prize for his activism against a billion-dollar dam project.
Myint Zaw was awarded with the Goldman Environmental Prize for his “Save the Irrawaddy” campaign in reaction to the plans to build the 500-foot dam and a huge power plant at the source of the Irrawaddy [Ayeyarwady] River, which is vital to Burma’s agriculture and ecology.
Prize-winners take a ten-day tour of the US to meet members of the media, funders and other political and environmental activists.
Opponents said the Chinese-backed, $3.6-billion Myitsone dam project risked damaging livelihoods and the environment while the benefits of the generated electrical power would be generated over the border to China’s Yunnan Province.
The campaign was successful, and a DVD that Myint Zaw produced with other activists proved inspirational around the country in galvanising support. Aung San Suu Kyi made references to the “Save the Irrawaddy” campaign in her speeches.
In 2011, the Burmese government suspended the project, The Chinese government is pressing for its resumption, but Naypyidaw now say its fate is to be decided by whoever takes control of the country after the elections later this year.
Winners of the prize are announced annually on 22 April, which is Earth Day.
Other winners of this year’s Goldman prize come from Canada, Haiti, Kenya, Scotland and Honduras.