Mar 22 2008

Successful International Day of Action for Rivers

At least 70 actions took place in over 30 countries to celebrate the importance of protecting our rivers. Many groups opted to demonstrate and protest. In Brazil, MAB organized more than nine events. MAB’s occupation of the worksite at Estreito Dam on the Tocantins River lasted nine days until demonstrators at the Estreito Dam were finally offered an agreement which maintains that organs under the Brazilian presidency will convene meetings to discuss the ongoing social and environmental concerns that the dam project presents. A rail line in Minas Gerais was blocked by the women of Via Campesina (of which MAB is part), in support of families seeking compensation from the company for their being displaced for Aimor’s Dam.

n solidarity with farmers in Thjorsa, the group Saving Iceland took action to protect a beautiful, fertile region of the country that is threatened by heavy industry plans to place a new dam on a waterfall to power new heavy industry. They built a small “dam” in front of the national energy company office entrance so the workers had to either to step over the dam to get inside or use a different entrance. This action symbolized their resistance to the imminent development of three dams that the company hopes to build.

In India, the public hearing for the proposed 3000 MW Dibang Multipurpose Project, which was supposed to be held on March 12th, could not be conducted due to strong opposition from the local affected people. Hundreds of protestors from various affected villages staged a road blockade along the main road blocking all the vehicular movement towards the venue of the public hearing. Vehicles carrying officials and staff of major involved corporations were prevented from reaching the hearing.
In Guatemala, there were peaceful protests against the construction of dams and in defense of water in Guatemala and throughout the world.

Some groups held conferences and hosted exhibitions to educate and inspire people to take action against dams. An event was held in Mokhotlong district of Lesotho where the first dam of the Phase 2 of the Lesotho Water Project is planned. A group discussion focused on water as a right, the politics of water and other environmental issues. In Portugal, students in a Renewable Energy course at a local high school co-hosted a colloquium titled, “Microgeneration of Energy = Macrogeneration of Jobs”. Next, there was a kayak demonstration at the Tua River next to the city center, followed by a kayak trip up the river and organized meetings with dam-affected peoples.

And of course, there was celebration! In Burma, Ethnic Karen people living along Burma’s Salween River gathered in colorful traditional dress to pray to the spirits of the river and the land around it for protection against the planned construction of the Hut Gyi Dam, which threatens to devastate the area’s fragile ecosystem. In California, the Klamath Riverkeeper and other groups hosted a benefit dinner to raise money and support to bring down the Klamath dams. Guests enjoyed dinner, a multi media-presentation and live funk and reggae music!

It is incredible that so many of us raise our voices and remember the importance of protecting our rivers at the same time! In more than 30 countries, at least 70 actions took place.

Take a moment to browse the Day of Action pages to see what communities around the world did to commemorate the day.