Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Naw A---, August 2017


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Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Naw A---, August 2017

Published date:
Thursday, December 14, 2017

This Interview with Naw A--- describes events occurring in Ler Muh Lah Township, Mergui-Tavoy District, during the period between 2010 and August 2017, including a proposed dam project and negative consequences of gold and lead mining.

  • The Italian-Thai Development PLC (ITD) and a Burma/Myanmar Government Ministry of Electricity administrator conducted assessments for a proposed hydropower dam project several times in 2011 at Tanintharyi River, B--- village, Ler Mu Lah Township, Mergui-Tavoy District without providing any information about the project to local villagers.
  • Villagers continue to oppose the ITD dam project because of the livelihood difficulties it would create by submerging many villagers’ lands. Therefore, they urge NGOs, CBOs/CSOs, the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burma/Myanmar government to support their effort to halt the dam project.
  • Naw A--- argues that 100,000 kyat (US $73.38) for each betel nut tree damaged and around 5,000,000 kyat (US $3,669.04) for each acre of land submerged by the potential dam project should be paid by the ITD Company as compensation. In addition, Naw A--- proposes that a further 10,000,000 kyat (US $7,338.08) should be paid as remedy for every dam victim if the dam goes ahead.
  • Shwey Htun Company and GMS Public Power Company has been conducting a lead and gold mining project in Ta Naw Th’Ree River for more than one year after being granted permission from the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burma/Myanmar government. However, villagers are concerned about the negative health consequences of the companies allowing poisonous mercury to flow into the water that villagers drink.
  • Villagers and some CBOs/CSOs workers met with the owner of Shwey Htun Company, Ko Cho, in Dawei Town and compelled Ko Cho to drink the mercury contaminated river water next to the gold mining raft after he claimed that the water was drinkable.  


[1] KHRG trains community members in southeastern Burma/Myanmar to document individual human rights abuses using a standardised reporting format; conduct interviews with other villagers; and write general updates on the situation in areas with which they are familiar. When conducting interviews, community members are trained to use loose question guidelines, but also to encourage interviewees to speak freely about recent events, raise issues that they consider to be important and share their opinions or perspectives on abuse and other local dynamics.

[2] In order to increase the transparency of KHRG methodology and more directly communicate the experiences and perspectives of villagers in southeastern Burma/Myanmar, KHRG aims to make all field information received available on the KHRG website once it has been processed and translated, subject only to security considerations. For additional reports categorised by Type, Issue, Location and Year, please see the Related Readings component following each report on KHRG’s website

[3] Naw is a S’gaw Karen female honorific title used before a person’s name.

[4] KHRG published a News Bulletin in June 2017 detailing villagers’ concerns and contestation of this hydropower dam project: “Proposed Hydropower Dam Project in Tanintharyi Region, Mergui-Tavoy District, 2017” June 2017. For additional information, please also see: “Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Saw A---, March 2017,” September 2017.

[5] Italian Thai Development Public Company Limited (ITD) is Thai company with investment in construction of highways, railway, dam, industry in Myanmar and other parts of Asia. ITD construction projects have resulted in relocation, destruction of plantation and lack of compensation for villagers, see “Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Saw E---, July 2012,” March 2013. ITD also have investment in Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which began as a joint venture with Max Myanmar Company. The Dawei SEZ has resulted in environment destruction, threat and forced eviction of villagers, imprisonment of villagers who refused to relocate, destruction of livelihood through plantation, farming and paddy damaged, forced to accept inadequate compensation. Improper facility at relocation site, see “Dawei SEZ Fact Sheet,” Mekong Watch, December 2016. Also see “Proposed Hydropower Dam Project in Tanintharyi Region, Mergui-Tavoy District, 2017,” KHRG, June 2017 and “Mergui-Tavoy Interview: Saw A---, March 2017,” September 2017.

[6] All conversion estimates for the kyat in this report are based on the December 13th 2017 official market rate of 1,363 kyat to US $1.

[7] Candle Light Group is a local Karen Christian CBO that works on land issues

[8] Ta K’Paw Group is also a local Karen Christian CBO that works on land issues.

[9] The Karen Environmental and Social Network (KESAN) is a community-based, non-profit organisation that works to improve livelihood security and gain respect for indigenous people’s knowledge and rights in Karen State. KESAN’s mission is centered around development of sustainable rural livelihoods based on the principles of democratisation from below and “Free, Prior and Informed Consent.” For more information, please see:

[10] According to the most recent update received by KHRG in November 2017, the goal mining project restarted in November 2017.