Target: Phnom Pheh, President of Cambodia, and the Executive Board of Sinohydro Corporation Ltd.
Goal: Stop construction of dam that threatens diverse ecosystem and indigenous peoples
In Southwest Cambodia, the Areng Valley is considered a “biodiversity jewel” by conservationists. If the plans for a hydroelectric dam project continue, thousands of hectares of land will be flooded, erasing and drowning the natural beauty of the landscape. The Chong people, who are also known as Khmer Daem (or original Khmers), dread that the dam will destroy their forests, livelihood and heritage.
The Chong people have lived in this valley for over 600 years, relying on the environment for food, shelter, business, and religion. Families forage for roots and mushrooms in the heart of the rainforest, capture fish in hand-woven nets from the river, and grow rice in the nutrient-rich soil. The forests surrounding the valley are considered sacred and home to many spirits, while fallen boughs and wood provide building materials for homes, boats, and furniture. In March, a group of monks traveled over 150 miles on foot to help the Areng villagers protect the land and spread awareness, wrapping trees with orange cloth, a form of blessing to discourage deforestation.
The Cambodian government aims to erect a network of 17 dams, relying on assistance and support from Chinese hydropower companies. The Areng villagers are doing their best to stop the project by protesting and blocking the only dirt road to the valley. If the dam is built, at least 26,000 acres will be flooded, 1,500 people will be displaced, whom the government will relocate to an undetermined area, and 31 endangered animals and their habitats will be jeopardized. Refer to Nicole Liddicote’s petition for more information on environment endangerment regarding the dam.
The dam can still be stopped. Two Chinese companies have already pulled from the project, determining that the project is not economically viable. We must place pressure on Sinohydro, China’s largest hydropower company with the most involvement in Stung Cheay Areng dam, and the Cambodian government to stop the project immediately and save the villagers, environment, and species of the Areng valley.
Dear President Phnom Pheh and the Executive Board of Sinohydro Corporation Ltd.,
We demand that you stop all plans for the erection of the Stung Cheay Areng Dam in the Areng River Valley. The dam would not only destroy and flood thousands of acres of forests and habitats, but would displace over 1,500 Cambodian people from the region. While green energy can be generated from the hydroelectric dam, the costs outweigh the benefits in this instance.
Already two Chinese companies have withdrawn from the project, as they deem the Stung Cheay Areng economically unviable. Please follow suit: the Chong people and their heritage deserve respect. Uphold the natural beauty of the rainforests and honor the livelihoods of Cambodia’s minority and indigenous peoples. The dam’s progress must be terminated immediately.
Photo credit: David Emmett via Wikimedia Commons