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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Myanmar cardinal says China-funded dam project must be stopped

A controversial China-funded dam project in Myanmar must be stopped, said Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, noting that the affected river is the country’s most sacred symbol.

The Irrawaddy River is “our mother” and is at risk of being lost “to the greed of a superpower,” he said.

The river, the Southeast Asian nation’s longest, running from north to south, “is an unfailing accompanier” in the livelihoods of the people of Myanmar, which is “a nation of agriculture, where 80 per cent of the people live by farming,” Cardinal Bo said in a 28th January statement.

“On behalf of all the people of Myanmar, especially the poor farmers, we earnestly request all stakeholders to stop their attempts to abuse” Irrawaddy, which is regarded as the cradle of civilisation for Myanmar’s ethnic Burmese majority, he said. “We are hopeful that our leaders will resist all efforts to destroy our nation’s destiny and dignity.”

The $3.6 billion Myitsone Dam project, which, if built as designed, would flood more than 200 square miles of forestland in Kachin state and export 90 per cent of the power produced to China, was suspended by Myanmar’s previous military-dominated government in 2011.

Myanmar “pleads with all people of goodwill to come to the support of the poor,” said Cardinal Bo.

Picture: A man washes clothes and a woman washes her hair along the bank of the Irrawaddy River in Sagaing, Myanmar, on 4th March 2012. The Irrawaddy River is “our mother” and is at risk of being lost “to the greed of a superpower,” Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon said in a 28th January statement. (CNS photo/Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters).