Ethnic Kachins mark ‘Earth Day’ on Sino-Burma border

The 39th anniversary of Earth Day today was marked by Burma's ethnic Kachins and environmentalists with solemnity and traditional Christian prayer services at two places on the Sino-Burma border in northern Burma, organizers said.

This is the first time that the Earth Day was marked on the border where hundreds of trucks loaded with timber from Kachin State are crossing into China's southwest Yunnan province through different border passes. The anniversary service was organized by Kachin-State based Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG), said Awng Wa, chairman of KDNG.

The hour-long service was held at two different places between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. where participants were told about the significance of Earth Day, the current Earth's environment, global warming and ecological problems in nature resource-rich Kachin State as well as in Burma by KDNG organizers, participants said.

The services in the two places were concluded with prayers where participants prayed for the continued existence of the Earth, a greener Earth and that all living things on Earth live peacefully in the future.

Altogether over 40 participants joined the services and they included Baptist Church goers, teachers, people from inside Kachin State and local environmentalists, said organizers.

According to local environmentalists, Kachin State is now facing rampant deforestation where the ecology is at high risk. No plants are growing and rivers and streams have become polluted with Mercury due to mindless gold mining.

As such several small streams are drying up every year and water levels in several rivers are also dropping to half.  Burma's biggest Irrawaddy River has problems with strange changes occurring compared to past years. The water level significantly plummets in summer but soars dramatically during monsoons, said local people.

Awng Wa told KNG today, "The Burmese ruling junta seems bent on destroying the ecology of Kachin State because it is allowing rampant logging and jade and gold mining permits to Chinese companies by demanding large amounts of money."

The Chinese government is also indirectly destroying Kachin State's ecology by buying timber from the state. However, it officially stopped importing timber from Kachin State in 2005, he added.

Kachin environmentalists criticize both Burma's ruling junta and the Chinese government for neglected the mounting ecological problems in Kachin State.
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