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Myanmar arrests anti-dam activist in rare protest
by Staff Writers
Yangon (AFP) Sept 20, 2011

Police in military-dominated Myanmar on Tuesday arrested a man who staged a rare protest against a controversial Chinese hydroelectric power project, an official said.

"A 46-year-old man was arrested this afternoon near the Chinese Cultural Office as he tried to stage a solo protest," said a government official who did not want to be named. The office is part of the Chinese embassy in Yangon.

He was understood to be holding a banner demanding a halt to the Myitsone hydropower dam project in northern Kachin state, electricity from which is destined for neighbouring China.

Protests are rare in authoritarian Myanmar, where pro-democracy rallies in 1988 and 2007 were brutally crushed by the junta. Demonstrators must have permission from the authorities.

Concerns are growing in Myanmar about the impact of the Myitsone dam on the Irrawaddy River, with a group of writers and environmentalists voicing rare public criticism of the government-supported project earlier this month.

Local media quoted Myanmar's minister for electric power, Zaw Min, as saying last week that construction of the dam would go ahead anyway.

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More than a quarter of Chinese cities are at risk from tens of thousands of run-down reservoirs, prompting the government to speed up efforts to make repairs, state media said Friday. More than 40,000 reservoirs around the country have been in use longer than their design life and are poorly maintained due to a lack of funds over the past few decades, the state-run Global Times reported. ... read more

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