September 26, 2014

Call on Laotian people to save our Land, Very Soon Mekong dam will destroying the region’s lifeblood

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Our River feeds Millions

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The Mekong River is under threat. The governments of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are considering plans to build 11 big hydropower dams on the river's mainstream

Mekong Dams: Opposition Grows to Laos’ Mega Dams

Key Issues:
Xayaburi, Don Sahong, and Lower Mekong Mainstream Dams

A renewed push to build hydropower dams on the lower Mekong mainstream is threatening the river’s ecosystems, aquatic resources and the fishery-dependent livelihoods of millions of people.

แม่น้ำโขง

แม่น้ำโขง – สายน้ำที่ยาวที่สุดในอุษาคเนย์ และยาวเป็นอันดับสิบของโลก จากต้นกำเนิดบริเวณเทือกเขาหิมาลัย แม่น้ำโขงไหลผ่านถึง 6 ประเทศ จากที่ราบสูงทิเบต ผ่านภาคตะวันตกเฉียงใต้ทางมณฑลยูนนาน ประเทศจีน ไหลสู่ พม่า ลาว ไทย กัมพูชา ก่อนจะออกสู่ทะเลจีนใต้ที่ดินดอนสามเหลี่ยมปากแม่น้ำประเทศเวียดนาม รวมความยาวทั้งสิ้น 4,909 กิโลเมตร

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.terraper.org/mainpage/key_issues_detail_en.php?kid=8&langs=en

The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law. We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos. 

More information from http://www.internationalrivers.org/
“The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law,” said Ms. Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia Program Director for International Rivers. “We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos. The Xayaburi Dam is the first of a cascade of devastating mainstream dams that will severely undermine the region’s development efforts. The food security and jobs of millions of people in the region are now on the line.”
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Xayaburi Construction’s Photo

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/multimedia/photo/257475/laos-river-life/embed

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/236558/activists-call-to-scrap-lao-dam-project

Activists are unhappy with Laos’ pledge to study the environmental effects of the controversial Xayaburi hydro dam.  Click for more

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/laos-evades-responsibility-with-dam-construction-30193861.html

Ame Trandem, Pianporn Deetes
November 8, 2012 1:00 am

In clear defiance of its neighbours and a regional agreement, the Lao government announced that it would hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the Xayaburi Dam site on the Mekong River on Wednesday, November 7. Viraphonh Viravong, Laos’ deputy minister of energy and mining, said “It has been assessed, it has been discussed the last two years. We have addressed most of the concerns.
After the ceremony, the project developers are expected to begin construction on the cofferdam, which diverts the river while the permanent dam wall is built. The cofferdam is expected to be completed by May 2013.

The international community should not let the Lao government get away with such a blatant violation of international law. We are calling on donor governments and the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to take a firm stand against Laos.

The Xayaburi Dam is the first of a cascade of devastating mainstream dams that will severely undermine the region’s development efforts. The food security and jobs of millions of people in the region are now on the line.

Construction activities at the dam site began in late 2010. In April 2011 the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments asked the Lao government for further studies on the project’s trans-boundary effects. In December 2011 the four governments of the Mekong River Commission met and agreed to conduct further studies on the effects of the Xayaburi Dam and 10 other proposed mainstream dams. To date, no regional agreement has been made to build the Xayaburi Dam despite the 1995 Mekong Agreement’s requirement that the governments of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos cooperate and seek joint agreement on mainstream projects.

Laos said it would cooperate with neighbouring countries, but this was never genuine. Instead, the project always continued on schedule and was never actually delayed. None of Vietnam and Cambodia’s environmental and social concerns have been taken seriously. Laos has never even collected basic information about the ways that people depend on the river, so how can it say that there will be no impacts?

On October 22, Vietnam’s minister of natural resources and environment met the Lao prime minister and requested that all construction on the Xayaburi Dam be stopped until necessary studies to assess the effects of Mekong mainstream dams were first carried out.

Laos continues to deny that the dam will have trans boundary impacts and is applying the recommended mitigation measures made by Finnish consulting company Poyry and French company Compagnie Nationale du Rhone, despite the fact that the project has never carried out a trans-boundary impact assessment. The Cambodian government, Vietnamese government, and scientists throughout the Mekong region have disagreed with the work of these companies.

Laos is playing roulette with the Mekong River, offering unproven solutions and opening up the Mekong as a testing ground for new technologies. When the Mekong River Commission stays quiet and tolerates one country risking the sustainability of the Mekong River and all future trans-boundary cooperation, something is seriously wrong.

As Thai companies serve as the project’s developers and financers, and the Thai government will purchase the bulk of the Xayaburi Dam’s electricity, Thailand has the responsibility to call for a stop to construction immediately and cancel its power purchase agreement until there is regional agreement to build the dam. This move by Laos sets a dangerous precedent for the future of the Mekong region. If Laos is allowed to proceed unhindered, then in the future all member governments will proceed unilaterally on projects on the Mekong River. The Mekong Agreement will become yet another useless piece of paper.

Unless the Mekong dam crisis is tackled immediately, the future of the region is in great danger. With the Asian and European heads of states gathered in Vientiane, Laos for the Asem Summit, it’s time that the international community takes a strong stand and makes it clear that such actions by Laos will not be tolerated.

Ame Trandem is Southeast Asia programme director, International Rivers. Pianporn Deetes is Thailand campaign coordinator, International Rivers.

http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/laos-evades-responsibility-and-plows-ahead-with-xayaburi-dam-7714

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Credits: International Rivers

November 23, 2014

When Life Imitates ‘The Hunger Games’ in Thailand

Movie-goers continue to face arrest for borrowing the three-fingered salute of resistance.
November 23, 2014

Thailand martial law to stay ‘indefinitely’

BBC News Asia

Thailand martial law to stay ‘indefinitely’

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30140596

Thai pro-democracy activist Nacha Kong-udom closes her mouth and flashes a three-finger salute in front of a poster of The Hunger Games movie at a cinema in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 November 2014
Activist Nacha Kong-udom was detained on Thursday for flashing a salute in protest against military rule

Thailand’s Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya has said martial law will remain in place “indefinitely”, amid mounting protests of military rule.

His remarks to Reuters come a day after PM Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that martial law was “necessary” to stop “conflict and social disparity”.

The Thai military took over government on 22 May, and has been criticised for its repression of anti-coup protests.

Several protesters have been arrested in recent weeks.

A number of them have used a three-finger salute inspired by the Hollywood series The Hunger Games, which has been widely adopted as an anti-coup symbol.

A cinema chain in Thailand cancelled screenings of the latest film in the franchise this week, saying it wanted to avoid trouble.

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The Hunger Games salute

A woman flashes a three-finger salute during a gathering outside the Australian embassy on 4 June 2014 in Bangkok.
  • In the films and books the gesture originally signals gratitude or admiration, but is later turned into a sign of silent dissent against an authoritarian regime.
  • It has become widely used in Thailand by those protesting against the 22 May military coup.
  • Some protesters have said it also stands for the French revolution ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.
  • In June, Thai authorities warned they would arrest anyone in a large group who gave the salute and refused to lower their arm when ordered.
  • Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup, has warned that anyone flashing it could “jeopardise their futures”.
  • Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence has expressed concern that Thai youths are being arrested for using the salute.
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‘Army’s tool’In an interview with Reuters news agency on Friday, Gen Paiboon said martial law could not be lifted “because the government and junta need it as the army’s tool”.

“We are not saying that martial law will stay in place for 50 years, no, this is not it. We just ask that it remain in place for now, indefinitely.”

Gen Paiboon denied that the army was abusing the law, saying it “does not violate anyone’s rights”.

On Thursday, Gen Prayuth told local media Thailand still needed martial laws.

“Am I happy? No, I’m not. The longer [martial law] is in place, the more unhappy I become. Yet, it’s necessary,” he said.

“Today, priority must be given to the future of the country. Conflict and social disparity must be stopped.”

The military has argued that by overthrowing the elected government they brought peace and stability to Thailand after an intense and violent political deadlock. Their move was welcomed by many Thais.

It has promised to restore democracy and hold elections in late 2015. But international players have voiced concern that the military is consolidating power in the meantime.

A photo made available on 20 November 2014 shows Thai students (front, 2-L and 3-R) being arrested by police officers and security guards as they flash anti-coup sign in front of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha (back) while delivering a speech during his visit in Khon Kaen province, north eastern Thailand, 19 November 2014
The five students were released without charges on Thursday

Human rights groups say that repression and censorship has intensified under the military regime.

On Thursday, young activist Nacha Kong-udom was arrested outside a Bangkok shopping centre for flashing the three-finger salute in front of a poster for the latest Hunger Games film, Mockingjay.

Two students who reportedly helped to organise a free screening of the movie were also detained.

Five university students were arrested earlier this week for flashing the salute. Wearing T-shirts protesting against the coup, the students had flashed the salute at Gen Prayuth at an event in the northeast region of Khon Kaen.

They were held overnight at a military camp before they were released unconditionally without charge on Thursday, local media reported.

Gen Prayuth told reporters on Friday he was “unconcerned” about the popularity of the salute. Asked if it was banned, he warned: “I don’t know whether it is illegal or not but it could jeopardise their futures.”

Matilda Bogner, a spokeswoman from the UN Human Rights Office for South East Asia, told AFP news agency that the arrests illustrate “a worrying pattern of human rights violations, which has the effect of suppressing critical and independent voices”.

The director of Mockingjay, Francis Lawrence, has also expressed concern, telling Buzzfeed News: “My goal is not for kids to be out there doing things that are getting them arrested.”

More on This Story

Related Stories

November 23, 2014

Thai Protesters Are Detained After Using ‘Hunger Games’ Salute

Thai Protesters Are Detained After Using ‘Hunger Games’ Salute

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/21/world/asia/thailand-protesters-hunger-games-salute.html

An activist, Nacha Kong-udom, flashed the three-finger salute from the “The Hunger Games” as plainclothes police officers led her away from a cinema in Bangkok on Thursday. Credit Rungroj Yongrit/European Pressphoto Agency

BANGKOK — A Thai theater chain has withdrawn the latest “Hunger Games” movie after several student protesters were detained for using a gesture taken from the films, a three-finger salute of resistance to authoritarian government.

The salute, which in the movies is a daring act of silent rebellion, began to appear here in the weeks after the May 22 coup. The authorities warned that anyone raising it in public could be subject to arrest.

The military government in Thailand has clamped down on all forms of protest, censored the country’s news media, limited the right to public assembly and arrested critics and opponents. Hundreds of academics, journalists and activists have been detained for up to a month, according to Human Rights Watch.

The arrests came on Wednesday, before the premiere in Thailand of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.” Five students in T-shirts bearing the slogan “We don’t want the coup” flashed the sign during a speech by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup and later became head of the military government.

The students were quickly detained by the police, who handed them over to military authorities.

Army officials later confirmed that the students were held for several hours for “attitude adjustment” and then released. They were told to report back the next day with their parents and still could be charged with violating martial law.

The prime minister was making his first visit to northeastern Thailand, the heartland of the red shirt political movement that supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup in 2006. Armed soldiers are highly visible in the northeast, manifesting the military’s control, while there is little sign of them in Bangkok’s streets.

The prime minister appeared to take the students’ protest in stride, according to local news reports. He was quoted as saying: “Well, that’s it. But it’s O.K. Go easy on them. We will take care of the problems. Any more protests? Make it quick.”

Three more students were detained in Bangkok on Thursday outside a theater where the film was being shown.

The students were members of a protest group that said it had bought hundreds of tickets to a showing of the film and planned to hand them out free, according to The Bangkok Post.

The theater chain, Apex, quickly canceled showings of the film. A spokesman for Apex told the newspaper that the company acted because “we feel our theaters are being used for political movements.”

In “The Hunger Games” novels by Suzanne Collins and in the films based on them, the salute begins as a gesture of gratitude and farewell and evolves into a symbol of defiance. One of the detained students, Natchacha Kongudom, told reporters, “The three-finger sign is a sign to show that I am calling for my basic right to live my life.”

Francis Lawrence, the director of several films in the series, said he was both excited and concerned that the salute was being used in Thailand.

“We were shooting when this started happening,” he said in remarks reported by The Sydney Morning Herald. “Part of it is sort of thrilling, that something that happens in the movie can become a symbol for people, for freedom or protest.”

But he added: “When kids start getting arrested for it, it takes the thrill out of it, and it becomes much more dangerous, and it makes the feeling much more complex. When people are getting arrested for doing something from your movie, it’s troubling.”

One student who was detained performed another banned act of protest, silently reading George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” in public.

The military government in Bangkok says its crackdown on dissent is necessary to restore calm to a nation that was torn by months of street protests leading to the coup. It has said it plans to hold a general election eventually, and then hand power to a civilian government, but that a number of conditions must first be met.

A new constitution is being drafted, including a proposal by the military to make the current restrictions on the news media permanent; news groups are challenging the proposal.

November 22, 2014

LAT

Immigration reform: Who qualifies and who doesn’t?

November 22, 2014

Immigration – Inmigración

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration

Immigration

Taking Action on Immigration

President Obama is taking new steps to fix America’s broken immigration system.

LEARN MORE

Immigration

America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country.

Together we can build a fair, effective and common sense immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

The President’s plan builds a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and cracks down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. It’s a plan that requires anyone who’s undocumented to get right with the law by paying their taxes and a penalty, learning English, and undergoing background checks before they can be eligible to earn citizenship. It requires every business and every worker to play by the same set of rules.

Vea esta sección en Español.

Inmigración

El sistema de inmigración de los Estados Unidos está dañado. Existen muchos empleadores que hacen trampa con el sistema al contratar a trabajadores indocumentados y existen 11 millones de personas viviendo en las sombras. Ninguna de estas opciones es buena para la economía o para el país.

Juntos, podemos componer nuestro sistema migratorio descompuesto de manera que le haga honor a nuestra herencia tanto como nación de leyes que como nación de inmigrantes.

El plan del Presidente crea un sistema de inmigración sensato y eficaz que continúa los esfuerzos por proteger nuestras fronteras y que toma medidas más enérgicas con los empleadores que contraten a inmigrantes indocumentados. Es un plan que requiere que todo el que sea indocumentado corrija su situación legal al pagar sus impuestos y una multa, aprender inglés, y someterse a verificación de sus antecedentes antes de que sea elegible para obtener la ciudadanía.

 

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