Myanmar Villagers Stand United Against Coal Plant
Nicole Ghio, Huffington Post, 17th July 2015
After a 10 hour overnight drive from Yangon, we finally arrive in Andin Village. It is starting to rain, turning the red dirt roads into mud, but we can’t miss the large “No Coal” sign in Burmese, English, and Mon. Last May, the now empty football field hosted the latest in a series of protests against a proposed 1,280 MW coal-fired power plant from a Thailand-based Japanese company, Toyo-Thai Corporation (TTCL). The proposal also includes a massive new deep sea port to bring in coal from Indonesia and Australia to fuel the boilers. Nearly every house in the village has a “No Coal” sticker in the three languages-distributed as part of a survey of local opinions about the project. Out of 1300 households, we are told only one refused to place a sticker on their home. The rest display their opposition on their homes, cars and motorbikes.
Andin is part of Ye Township in Mon State, which sits in the narrow southern strip of Myanmar, bordered by Thailand on the east and the Bay of Bengal on the west. Peace in Mon is relatively new. The state was blacklisted by the former military dictatorship, and the Mon language and history were banned in schools. In 2010, the new government signed a ceasefire with the armed Mon group, opening the door for infrastructure and development. Now the people in Andin can openly teach their culture at a Mon language school in the village. But a monk from the Andin monetary told me he is worried the coal plant will bring new conflict to the village, pitting the Mon people against Burmese immigrants who came to the area looking for work.