On 15 and 16 September, representatives of community networks from northeastern Thailand gathered in Bangkok to protest against the Xayaburi hydropower dam, whose construction on the mainstream of the Mekong River in the territory of Laos is being strongly pushed.
The Thai communities, living up and downstream the proposed dam site along the Mekong River clearly recognize that this proposed dam will have major impacts on their livelihood, as well as on those of other communities in Cambodia and Vietnam where the people also rely heavily and directly on Mekong mainstream. A total of over 65 million people depend on this river for their livelihood, mostly by fishery, agriculture along the river banks, and also from its fresh water for their rice field and agriculture, especially in the delta part in Vietnam.
According to the community networks' representatives, the dam would further aggravate the already felt negative impacts of the four already constructed hydropower dams in the Upper Mekong River in China. These impacts include more frequent and intense floods, affecting peoples' livelihoods, especially their fishery, while also causing erosion and reducing the available area for food production thus undermining peoples' food sovereignty and income.
The Thai government is directly implicated in this dam, once it is being constructed by a Thai company, and the financing is coming from four of the biggest Thai commercial banks. More than 95% of the energy is meant to be sold in Thailand. Besides the Xayaburi dam, another 11 dams are planned in the lower Mekong region.
The protesting people demanded a meeting with the Prime Minister in public, to personally hand over a postcard petition signed by thousands of people, demanding to stop the dam. However, the Thai Prime Minister refused to meet the people. Nevertheless, they protested in front of the Governments' house for one entire morning, and afterwards held a press conference, attended by numbers of national and international media.
For more information see www.savethemkong.org