La Via Campesina is joining Assembly of the Poor in Thailand in the struggle against the construction of large dams and to achieve our food sovereignty.
Large dams have forced 80 million peoples from their land in the past six decades. Indigenous, tribal, and peasant communities have been hard hit. These legions of dam refugees are in the great majority of the cases, economically, culturally, and psychology devastated. The people by reservoirs are only the most visible victims of large dams. Millions of people have lost land and houses to canals, irrigation schemes, roads, power lines and industrial development projects that accompany dams. Many more have lost access to the clean water, food sources, and natural resources.
Many examples have shown in many countries how dam construction makes communities suffer.
The Indonesian government mentioned that in the next 5 years, 11 dams will constructed. And only 4 out of 26 dams in Indonesian have replaced 40.000 peoples from their land. The construction of the Koto Panjang dam in West Sumatra, created a massive wave of refugees: 8400 peoples were forced to move from their productive land and houses.
Brazil have around 600 large dams. This had terrible consequences on people: many farmers ended up with no money, no land or other sources of income. One large dam in Itaperica, Brazil, has transformed the peasant community in beggars, people went to live under the highways bridges in cities.
On 1999, 10 000 Kenyah and Kayan peoples were forcibly relocated from their ancestral homes to make way for the Bakun dam in Sarawak, Malaysia.
Until Today, the affected peoples from the dam construction in Thailand and in all over the world are in the struggle. Experience has shown that dams are unable to adequately and effectively provide for genuine irrigation and electricity needs, they only destroy the way of life of villagers, indigenous wisdom and local economic income. People are now struggling to survive on resettlement sites when unemployment and hunger are prevalent.
La Via Campesina together with the Assembly of the Poor (AOP) are in the front line of the struggle against the construction of the large dams all over the world and demand to stop dams construction for the protection of the people and environment. Dam construction violates human rights. We demand to restore the rivers for the future generations.
Jakarta, November 30, 2006
La Via Campesina