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Myitsone Dam protest leader vows to fight on

MANDALAY (UCAN): A court in Myanmar’s Kachin State fined Bernadette Ja Hkawng 10,000 kyats ($50) for violating the peaceful assembly law.
 
Police in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin, charged Hkawng, who organised a protest on February 7 against the Myitsone Dam project, for using unauthorised slogans and a loudspeaker. 
 
“I work for the people not only in Kachin but also across the country, so I am ready to face any challenge,” Hkawng said.
 
She has called on all people in Myanmar to join hands to protect the Irrawaddy River and halt the Chinese-backed dam project permanently.
 
Hkawng, who was forced to leave her Tangphre village and relocate in 2010 to make way for the megaproject, said, “I will not give up my fight against the dam in Kachin State.” 
 
Under the peaceful assembly law, organisers must inform police in advance of any protest and give its location, time frame and intention. They also need to provide details of any slogans to be displayed and the personal information of anyone planning to speak.
 
Catholic priests and nuns joined more than 6,000 people, including interfaith leaders, politicians and activists on a march in Myitkyina to call for a complete halt to the dam project.
 
Protesters wore headbands reading No Myitsone Dam and held placards written in English, Burmese and Chinese that read, “No dam on the Irrawaddy River, the lifeblood of Myanmar,” “Let the Irrawaddy flow freely forever” and “Let the displaced go back home.”

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