February 17, 2000
About 300 angry people from the Forum of the Poor set fire to traditional fishing gear outside the Unctad venue yesterday in protest against the World Bank’s funding of dam construction. They accused World Bank president James Wolfensohn of “ignorance” after he failed to show up to hear their grievances.
After a four-hour wait in front of Queen Sirikit Convention Centre, the protesters, mostly villagers affected by dam construction, particularly Pak Moon dam, set alight fishing gear in the late evening to signal their protest. They said the World Bank’s concept of development had destroyed their lives, communities and fishing.
“We and our ancestors once used this equipment to fish in the Moon river, but now our lives have changed. Since the dam was built we can no longer catch fish. Today this equipment is of no use to us. Why should we keep it?” a protester said.
“Today we’ll burn it to deliver our message to the world, that the coming of the World Bank has brought us misery.”The protesters condemned the World Bank president for not coming out to meet them. Mr Wolfensohn was invited to Unctad as a key speaker in an interactive debate at 3pm. yesterday.
In a open letter they had planned to hand to him, the protesters insisted they did not want the World Bank’s money or development.
They called on the World Bank to take responsibility for the destruction it had caused to people’s lives, the ecology and fisheries of the Moon river, and to acknowledge its mistakes. They also demanded the World Bank work with the government to decommission the dam and restore the Moon river.
At yesterday’s protest were villagers affected by eight dam projects.
Categories: Mekong Utility Watch
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