February 14, 2000
Mr. James Wolfenson
The World Bank
1818 H Street,
Washington, D.C. Dear Mr. Wolfensohn
We, representatives of the villagers affected by the Pak Mun Dam and Assembly of the poor, write to you from Mae Mun Man Yuen 1 village on the banks of the Mun river next to the Pak Mun dam. Four thousand of us have been living here in protest for ten months to draw attention to the problems we face as a result of the Pak Mun dam and other destructive dams in the Northeast of Thailand.
Ten years ago the World Bank and EGAT destroyed our livelihoods through the construction of the Pak Mun dam. We were promised a better way of life but instead our fisheries were decimated and our communities destroyed. Over the past ten years we have learnt that compensation will not solve our problems and will only cause new problems. We believe that the only way forward for our communities is for the dam to be removed and the river restored.
For ten months we have waited here patiently for the Thai government and the World Bank to visit us, listen to us, and take steps to correct our problems. For ten months we have been ignored.
When we learnt that the Director of the World Bank’s Thailand Country Department was coming to visit we were excited. Many of us gathered to hear Mr. Shivakumar speak and tell him about our problems. We hoped he would listen to our stories, acknowledge the Bank’s responsibility for our lost livelihoods, and offer to help us in our mission to remove the dam. We were wrong.
Mr. Shivakumar came to tell us that he would like to deliver us “development”. That he would like to help us to “move forward”, find new occupations, build fish ponds. He told us to look to the future and forget about the past. He did not listen with an open heart and open mind.
We cannot do as Mr. Shivakumar asks us because we cannot forget about the past. The past is our lives, our culture, our heritage, our families, our fisheries. The past is development as conceived of by the World Bank and EGAT. The past is what has led us today to protest so that we can reach a future that we can be happy with.
We wish to inform you that we reject the World Bank’s concept of development, which has only brought us misery. We do not want the World Bank’s money or your development. We believe that the Bank is trying to silence our protests and our demands for restoration of the Mun River. We will not be silenced. We will not move until our demands have been met.
Therefore, today, on the occasion of your visit to Thailand, we call on the World Bank to:
1. Take responsibility for the destruction you have caused to our lives and to the ecology and fisheries of the Mun River, acknowledge your mistakes and respect our demands.
2. Work with the Thai government to decommission Pak Mun and restore the Mun River, and Restore the Mun River! Remove the dams!
Affected villagers by Pak Mun Dam and Assembly of the Poor
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