September 26, 2014

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

Help Us Save the Mekong River!

Our River feeds Millions

 

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

February 6, 2015

US tells Thailand to restore democracy or alliance is over

Police stand guard outside the US embassy in Bangkok January 28, 2015. — Reuters pic

BANGKOK, Feb 6 — The United States will not fully reactivate its military alliance with Thailand as long as the junta-controlled country refuses to restore democracy, a US diplomat warned yesterday.

“There has to be a full restoration both of the institutions of governance and justice as well as the full restoration of a duly democratically elected civilian government,” the senior State Department official told journalists.

It follows a recent visit by Daniel Russel, the most senior US official to travel to the kingdom since Thai generals imposed martial law and took over in a coup last May.

The United States strongly condemned the coup at the time, with chief diplomat John Kerry calling for a return to civilian rule via democratic elections.

Washington and Bangkok maintain a military alliance dating to the Cold War and the fight against communism in Southeast Asia, notably during the Vietnam War.

US and Thai armed forces remain tightly linked, but the United States cancelled joint military exercises after the coup and suspended a small part of its military assistance to Thailand. — AFP

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/us-tells-thailand-to-restore-democracy-or-alliance-is-over#sthash.92lsTlNY.dpuf

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February 6, 2015

Thailand’s Military Moves Closer To China

NPR

Thailand’s Military Moves Closer To China

Scott Neuman@
February 06, 201511:45 AM ET
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/06/384306120/thailands-military-moves-closer-to-china
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China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, left, and Thailand’s Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan walk during a ceremony at the Ministry of Defense in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday.

Sakchai Lalit/AP

Updated at 12:55 p.m. ET

Thailand’s junta — smarting over U.S. criticism of last year’s coup that ousted an elected government — has announced that it will strengthen military ties with China over the next five years.

An agreement with Beijing was announced during a two-day visit to Bangkok by China’s defense minister, Chang Wanquan, reports Michael Sullivan. The two sides say they’ll increase cooperation in intelligence-gathering and fighting transnational crime.

The Bangkok Post says: “China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan also took pains to stress that Beijing has no plans to ‘interfere’ with Thailand’s military regime, something the Thai government feels its long-time ally, the United States, did last month during the visit of a high-ranking diplomat.”

The high-ranking diplomat in question, Daniel Russel, is the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs. Russel sparked the ire of Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government last month with a speech at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University that criticized the government’s crackdown on free expression and called for an end to martial law, which has been in force since the May coup.

“I’ll be blunt here,” Russel told the audience at Chulalongkorn, one of Thailand’s most prestigious universities. “When an elected leader is deposed, impeached by the authorities that implemented the coup, and then targeted with criminal charges while basic democratic processes and institutions are interrupted, the international community is left with the impression that these steps could be politically driven.”

The remarks referred to the impeachment of twice-elected former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government was ousted in the May putsch. Her impeachment came months after she was ousted and living in self-imposed exile.

After the speech, Thailand’s deputy foreign minister summoned the U.S. embassy’s charge d’affaires, W. Patrick Murphy, to express his concern over “a wound that the U.S. inflicted on Thai people.”

Thailand’s move is viewed as a possible shift away from Washington, even as the U.S. has hoped to pivot toward Asia.

The two countries are viewed as strong allies and closely cooperated during the Vietnam War, despite Thailand’s revolving door of military governments. Even so, an annual joint military exercise between the two countries, known as Cobra Gold, is scheduled to go ahead as planned on Feb. 9, although Washington has scaled back the scope of it since the May 22 coup.

On Thursday in Washington, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. would not fully reactivate its military alliance with Thailand until there has been a “full restoration both of the institutions of governance and justice as well as the full restoration of a duly democratically elected civilian government.”

In addition to moving closer to China, Thailand’s new leadership has also sought closer ties with neighboring Myanmar, which has its own history of military governments.

February 6, 2015

Thailand boosts military ties with China amid U.S. spat

 Reuters U.S. Edition

Thailand boosts military ties with China amid U.S. spat

BANGKOK. Fri Feb 6, 2015 2:39am EST

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/06/us-thailand-china-idUSKBN0LA0LD20150206

Chang reviews a guard of honour at the Defence Ministry in Bangkok

China’s Defence Minister Chang Wanquan, accompanied by Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan (L), reviews a guard of honour during his visit to Thailand, at the Defence Ministry in Bangkok February 6, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

(Reuters) – China and Thailand agreed on Friday to boost military ties over the next five years, from increasing intelligence sharing to fighting transnational crime, as the ruling junta seeks to counterbalance the country’s alliance with Washington.

The agreement came during a two-day visit by China’s Defence Minister Chang Wanquan to Bangkok, and as Thailand’s military government looks to cultivate Beijing’s support amid Western unease over a delayed return to democracy.

“China has agreed to help Thailand increase protection of its own country and advise on technology to increase Thailand’s national security,” Thai Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters.

“China will not intervene in Thailand’s politics but will give political support and help maintain relationships at all levels. This is China’s policy.”

Under the junta, Thailand has stepped up engagement with China at a time when Beijing increases its influence in Southeast Asia with a raft of loans and aid for infrastructure.

At the same time, Washington has sought to show its renewed commitment to a strategic “pivot” toward Asia by boosting military ties and equipment sales across the region.

Prawit said Thailand and China agreed to increase joint military exercises, but did not give further details.

“We agreed to increase joint military exercises between Thailand’s air force and China’s air force and to increase overall military cooperation over the next three to five years,” he said.

Thailand’s army took control last May saying it needed to restore order after months of political unrest including street protests in Bangkok that killed nearly 30 people. The United States, a long-time ally of Thailand, expressed dismay at the coup and froze $4.7 million of security-related assistance and canceled some security cooperation.

U.S.-Thai relations deteriorated further last month when Bangkok accused Washington of meddling in its political affairs over the remarks by a visiting U.S. envoy who criticized the junta.

The junta has said it will hold onto power for at least another year, with a general election planned for early 2016.

Despite the tensions, the U.S. will hold its annual Cobra Gold combined military exercise with Thailand next week. The drill, however, has been scaled down in scope to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The drill, the Asia-Pacific’s largest annual multinational military exercise, also involves China.

(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

 

 

January 24, 2015

What It Is And How It Toppled Thai Leader Yingluck Shinawatra

Thailand Rice Subsidy Scheme: What It Is And How It Toppled Thai Leader Yingluck Shinawatra

    @ShuanSim, s.sim@ibtimes.com

on January 23 2015 10:27 AM

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.ibtimes.com/thailand-rice-subsidy-scheme-what-it-how-it-toppled-thai-leader-yingluck-shinawatra-1792788

RTR4ME8C
Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at Parliament before the National Legislative Assembly meeting. Yingluck was impeached over her controversial rice subsidy program Friday. Reuters

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was impeached Friday for her role in a rice subsidy program that cost the Thai government billions. The rice subsidy that was supposed to help farmers eventually saw Yingluck ousted from the government, sparked protests and led to the former government leader’s expulsion from Thai politics for five years. So how did the subsidy program work exactly?

The rice program introduced in 2011 sought to buy rice from local farmers at above-market prices, stockpile them to drive up global prices, and then sell them for increased revenue. Thailand was the world’s largest exporter of rice at the time and had the clout to affect prices of the staple. The program was earlier promoted by Yingluck’s brother Thaksin, who was the former prime minister and is now exiled from the country.

The program was one of the main campaign messages that Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party ran on, winning her party a landslide election in 2011. “It helped those with lower incomes earn more,” she said at her impeachment hearing on Thursday, according to Reuters. “Farmers are the backbone of the country.” Farmers account for 23 percent of Thailand’s 67 million people.

The subsidy was popular with farmers initially as they expanded their production in Thailand’s rural north. “I wanted to get more money,” farmer Jaroen Namhap told the Wall Street Journal. “Many other farmers in this district decided to do the same thing by expanding the amount of land used to grow rice. The government was offering such a good price. It was much better than selling to rice mills.”

However, the program went south when India returned to the rice export market after a long absence, and prices dropped worldwide. Yingluck’s government began to run out of money to support the subsidy, and many farmers are still waiting for payment from the government for the rice they turned in. Rice farmers had threatened to park 100 tractors at the Thailand airport in protest.

Yingluck’s rice subsidy program supposedly cost the government some 500 billion Thai baht ($15.3) in losses. Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission found Yingluck guilty of corruption last May for ignoring flaws in her program to advance her populist political agenda. “The rice subsidy is fraught with weaknesses and risks at every level, leading to corruption and impacting the state budget, farmers and the country’s fiscal position,” Commissioner Vicha Mahakun said at a news conference announcing the panel’s verdict, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Thai Constitutional Court removed Yingluck from office in May, sparking protests from the pro-Yingluck faction known as the Red Shirts. Opposition to Yingluck’s government, comprising many of the country’s traditional elite, planned their own rallies, too. A military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order, was established at the ousting of Yingluck and has imposed martial law since May.

Thailand’s current National Legislative Assembly is mostly comprised of military officers put in place by the junta government, known for its strict censorship laws and nationalist policies. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had said he did not order the NLA to vote to indict Yingluck, according to Reuters. Yingluck also faces criminal charges for the rice subsidy program that could see her jailed for up to 10 years.

“Thai democracy has died along with the rule of law,” Yingluck said in a statement posted on her Facebook page, reported by Reuters. “I will fight until the end to prove my innocence, no matter what the outcome will be. And most importantly, I want to stand alongside the Thai people. Together we must bring Thailand prosperity, bring back democracy and truly build justice in Thai society.”

January 24, 2015

Press Release: CPPA – 10 Point Appeal During Laos, Hmong Review

10 Point Appeal During Laos, Hmong Review

UN Human Rights Council in Geneva Receives 10 Point Appeal During Laos, Hmong Review

For Immediate Release, January 20, 2015,
Washington, D.C., Geneva, Switzerland, and Vientiane, Laos (Original Press Release Date: January 20, 2015)
Center for Public Policy Analysis

The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and a coalition of non-governmental organizations, including prominent Lao and Hmong human rights groups, is appealing to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to sanction and condemn the government of Laos during its pending Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the country’s human rights practices. The NGOs have released a ten-point (10 point) appeal to the member nations of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which convenes in Geneva on January 20, 2015, to take up the review of Laos’ controversial human rights record.

“Because of the important Universal Periodic Review of Laos’ deplorable and egregious human rights violations by the United Nations in Geneva, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, and Lao and Hmong human rights groups, are appealing to the member nations of the UN’s Human Rights Council to vigorously hold the government of Laos, and its military and communist leaders, fully accountable for a myriad of serious and systemic human rights abuses,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA in Washington, D.C. “Some of the leaders in Laos are clearly guilty of crimes against humanity, up and above their horrific human rights violations.”

“The one-party Marxist government in Laos, which is a de facto military junta run by the Lao People’s Army, continues to systematically engage in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of political and religious dissidents as well as minority peoples, including the ethnic Hmong,” Smith stated. “The Lao government’s ongoing, and intimate, military and diplomatic relationship with North Korea is also deeply troubling and has resulted in the brutal forced repatriation by Laos of North Korean refugees back to the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang that the asylum seekers have fled.”

Smith continued: “We are calling upon the Lao government to immediately provide unfettered, international access to missing civic leader Sombath Somphone and well as prominent Laotian and Hmong political dissidents, including the leaders of the Lao Students’ Movement for Democracy who have been imprisoned for over 15 years after leading peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in Vientiane in 1999. We are also very concerned about numerous Hmong refugee leaders, forcibly repatriated from Thailand to Laos in recent years, as well as notable opposition leaders, such as Moua Ter Thao, who have disappeared into the Lao prison and gulag system, and who also appear to have been subject to enforced disappearances at the hands of Lao military and security forces.”

“The continued persecution, and extrajudicial killing of Lao and Hmong refugees and asylum seekers in the jungles of Laos, as well as horrific religious freedom violations against Hmong Christian and animist believers, are serious human rights violations that the United Nations in Geneva should hold the Lao government accountable for, and call their leaders forward to address,” said Vaughn Vang, Executive Director of the Lao Human Rights Council, Inc. (LHRC). “The Lao military is still heavily engaged in ethnic cleansing and large-scale illegal logging operations, involving military attacks and starvation of Hmong civilians, driving more and more minority peoples from their ancestral lands, including the Hmong people, who are still being forced from the mountains and the jungles of Laos, where their only option is to flee to Thailand, and other third countries, to seek asylum from persecution and death.”

The following is the text of the ten-point appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva:

We appeal to the member nations of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to vigorously press the Lao government and military on its repeated and deplorable human rights violations. We request that the member nations of the UNHRC hold the authorities in Laos, and the Lao government and military, accountable for their egregious human rights violations, which must be condemned by the international community; and, we further petition Laos to:

1.) Provide immediate and unconditional international access to arrested civic activist Sombath Somphone, and all information related to his arrest and imprisonment;

2.) Provide immediate and unconditional international access to arrested student activist leaders of the Lao Students’ Movement for Democracy who were arrested following peaceful, pro-democracy protests in Vientiane, Laos, in October of 1999;

3.) Provide immediate and unconditional international access to all Lao Hmong refugee camp leaders of the Ban Huay Nam Khao (Huai Nam Khao) refugee camp in Thailand who were forcibly repatriated from Thailand to various camps and sites in Laos, including secret locations, in 2009;

4.) Stop the Lao military’s ongoing attacks against civilians, and illegal logging, especially in highland and minority populated areas; Provide immediate and unconditional access to international human rights monitors and independent journalists, to closed military zones, and military-controlled areas in Laos, where deforestation, illegal logging, military attacks, enforced starvation, and human rights violations continue against vulnerable minority peoples in Laos, including the ethnic Hmong people;

5.) Cease religious persecution of Laotian and Hmong religious believers, including Animists, Christians, Catholics and other faiths, who seek to worship freely, and independent of Lao government monitoring and control;

6.) Cease the forced repatriation of North Korean refugees and asylum seekers who have fled political and religious persecution in North Korea to Laos and Southeast Asia;

7.) Provide immediate and unconditional international access, especially to human rights monitors and attorneys, as well as independent journalists, to various high-profile Hmong-Americans imprisoned, or subject to enforced disappearance, in Laos, including Hakit Yang, of St. Paul, Minnesota, and his colleagues;

8.) Provide immediate and unconditional international access, especially to human rights monitors and attorneys, as well as independent journalists, to the high-profile Hmong opposition and resistance leader Moua Toua Ter recently repatriated from Thailand to Laos in 2014;

9.) Provide immediate and unconditional international access, especially to human rights monitors and attorneys, as well as independent journalists, to the two imprisoned Hmong translators, and alleged Hmong opposition members, who allegedly accompanied European journalist Thierry Falise, French cameraman Vincent Reynaud, and their American translator and guide, Rev. Naw Karl Mua in 2003, during their investigation into the Lao military’s persecution and attacks against the Hmong people, as documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists;

10.) Provide information, the whereabouts, and the fate of the accused Ban Vang Tao ( Vang Tao /Chong Mek border crossing point) alleged resistance and opposition leaders, and their alleged accomplices, reportedly involved in the July 2000 cross border attack on a Lao government customs post; International access should be granted to these individuals who were forcibly repatriated from Thailand to Laos prior to their trial, and court proceedings, in Thailand, as documented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); We are concerned about credible reports that these Lao citizens have been subjected to enforced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial killing by the Lao government; We request that the Lao government provide immediate and unconditional international access by human rights attorneys and international journalists to the accused Laotians who were unfairly denied a court trial in Thailand on the Ban Vang Tao case, since there is no independent judiciary or independent news media in Laos.

The ten-point appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva was issued by the CPPA, LHRC, United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., Lao Students’ Movement for Democracy, Laos Institute for Democracy, Lao Hmong Students Association, Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., Lao Veterans of America, Inc., and others.

ENDS

Contact:

Jade Her or Philip Smith

Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)

info@centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

Tele. (202) 543-1444

2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20006, USA

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