An environmentalist advocate, the Love Salween Group, issued a statement yesterday condemning government officials for denying a request by villagers to hold a prayer service on the Salween River on International Day of Action for Rivers on March 14, 2013.
The Love Salween Group, a Karenni community-based-organization asked permission of local government official to hold a prayer service at Wan Awn village located on the banks of the Salween River in Pasaung Township, Karenni State.
Speaking to Karen News, Daw Lay Nwe from the Love Salween Group said.
“We asked for permission in advance from government officials to hold a prayer service together with the local people. They appeared to be allowing it at first, but later officials claimed our group was not a legal group so they could not give us permission to hold prayer service. We condemn them [government officials] for not allowing us.”
The Love Salween Group sought permission from government officials on March 3, but received a rejection letter on March 12.
On March 14, 300 residents from Pasaung and Ywathit villages donated food to the monastery in Wan Awn village even though they were closely watched by authorities and were forbidden to do so.
Daw Lay Nwe said.
“Many people planned to join the prayer service. Some people came and joined even though the government told them to go back home when they arrived at Wan Awn dock. The government security guards ordered a group of Kayah young people who were wearing traditional clothes to take them – residents were angry over this issue.”
The Love Salween Groups’ statement urged the government to stop its Ywathit dam projects and the other dam projects planned for the Salween River.
The Love Salween Group are demanding the government to allow freedom of expression, to have residents’ participation in the decision making in mega development projects, make amendments to the 2008 constitution that will include ethnic nationalities having ownership of natural resources in order to achieve a genuine federal union.
The Love Salween Group was formed on December 2012 in Pasaung Township and its members are Karen, Kayah, Burmans and Shan. The group aim to monitor the implementation of dam projects on the Salween River.