A Long March Against Dam by the Assembly Of the Poor (AOP)

Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001
Press Statement

For the Restoration of Nature, Life and Community

We, the children of the Moon River, had been living a peaceful and abundant life for generations. The Moon and its tributaries teeming with a variety of fish had nourished us. It was our common belief that as long as the Moon was still alive, we too alive. And we hoped the legend shall proceed to the next generations.

But since eight years ago, the vitality of the river has been disrupted by the installation of two big dams, Pak Moon at the mouth of the river, and Rasi Salai at its middle. The richness of the river has been forsaken for meager power production. A variety or rare and diverse species of fish have disappeared as the Pak Moon Dam stands to prevent fish from Mekong to swim and lay their lay eggs in the Moon River. The destruction of rapids, which were habituated by fish, has also exacerbated the situation. Not only the income that has been sharply decreased, or completely gone, the livelihood and the knowledge on fishery passed down for generations has also been in extinction.

The construction of Rasi Salai Dam (albeit called « Dyke; » by the state) has led to inundation of a vast piece of rich wetland, on which nearby communities had depended. Salination spreads around the area and makes the adjacent land uncultivable. Fish can no longer travel to other tributaries and many gigantic weeds have prevailed.

The numerous loss caused by the dams has brought about the break down of communities in the basins, and has not been seriously addressed by any concerned agencies. Though lip service has been many times, the real problems have never been tended to. The suffering has simply multiplied.

We deem that only with the complete restoration of the Moon River, to let it flow free, that our lives and our communities can continue healthily and sustainably again. The solution is a permanent lift of the sluice gates of both the Pak Moon Dam and the Rasi Salai Dam. It has been proven that during the temporary opening of the dam gates in the past few months, the population of fish had greatly increased so as the overall abundance. Villagers, mostly fisherfolks, enjoyed their steady income and the revival of their livelihood. Land became cultivable and fertile to nourish the thriving vegetables and herbs grown along the River.

We, the villagers of the Mae Moon Mun Yuen Villages, have gathered and settled near the Pak Moon Dam since 23 March 2000. We have been calling for justices, but to date have not received any real sympathy from the powers that be. The temporary lift of the Pak Moon dam gates is not a permanent and sustainable solution.

Therefore, we decided to embark on a long march commencing from the Mae Moon Mun Yuen Village on 9 October 2001. Our purpose is to call for support from our fellow Northeasterners and other like-minded brothers and sisters we shall stop to meet with during the walk. The travel shall be made solely by foot all the way to Bangkok. We demand the restoration of the Moon river, restoration of our communities and lives of those affected by the dam construction including due compensations for the loss.

We shall never retract, and never fear of obstacles. Despite all the looming illnesses and tiredness during the harsh journey, we pledge to walk till we reach the Government House, 700 kilometers away. We shall continue walking until the government yields to our demands.

Lift the Pak Moon Dam's and the Rasi Salai Dam's Gates,

Restore Abundance for the Northesterners!

Assembly of the Poor

Moon Dam | Dam Protest | www.agp.org (archives) | www.all4all.org