Keep the Thanlwin (Salween) river dam-free!

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To: Aung San Suu Kyi (NLD government)

The Salween/Thanlwin river is one of the most precious rivers on earth, arising in Tibet and flowing through an extremely long canyon with abundant natural flora/fauna and villages of various ethnicities. The river deserves to remain free-flowing without dams such as the massive planned 7110-MW TaSang and 1365-MW Hatgyi hydroelectric projects in Myanmar. Such projects will flood villages, beaches, rapids, and riparian habitat, disrupt the flow of water, sediment and fish in the river, precipitate war with ethnic armies, and destroy one of the last remaining rivers running undammed from central Tibet to the sea.

The people of Shan, Kayah, and Kayin states have made it known that they do not want the TaSang or Hatgyi dams constructed as these projects will displace communities and destroy the river with its unique environment. The Tasang project is particularly egregious with a 228m-high dam that will flood ~450 km of the Thanlwin river from near TaSang all the way to Kunlong and also flood tributaries including the beautiful Nam Pang river nearly to Kunhing. This project is being spearheaded in part by the Three Gorges Corporation, known for its enormously destructive eponymous project on the Yangtze. The Hatgyi dam is ill-conceived and has already led to the displacement of thousands of Karen people and increased conflict. 

Myanmar is in need of additional energy production, but with 90% of the generated power from the Tasang project earmarked for export to Thailand and China - and similar export agreements for the other dams, the energy is not even intended to help citizens of Myanmar. Why destroy the natural resources in Myanmar for the benefit of another country? The project "approval" granted by the former military government was made without regard for the people, without adequate environmental impact assessment, and likely obtained only with large bribes to former officials. To meet the needs of future energy demands in Myanmar, it is wiser to invest in other less destructive forms of energy generation such as solar, wind, natural gas, and geothermal.

Recent kayaking and rafting expeditions have determined the unique qualities of the Thanlwin and Nam Pang rivers as a potential ecotourist destination with visitors enjoying the massive beaches, whitewater rapids, friendly residents, and the unique flora and fauna of the river corridor. Should the Thanlwin and Nam Pang rivers remain free-flowing, they are likely to become some of the most sought-after ecotourist destinations in Southeast Asia and therefore truly benefit the people of Myanmar.

Dear honorable Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD administration, we reject the TaSang mega dam project, the Hatgyi dam and other planned destructive hydroelectric projects on the Thanlwin river. We request that you listen to the people, make peace with the ethnic minorities who live near the Thanlwin, halt any further progress toward the construction of the TaSang and Hatgyi dams, designate the Thanlwin river canyon a protected area to remain dam-free, and develop the river corridor as a peaceful tourist destination rather than a mere energy production facility for Thailand and China.

For further information, see:

river tour information available at:


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