Lockdowns Hurt Businesses In Kachin State Villages

The model village so-called Aung Myin Thar where local people around Myitsone dam site were forcibly relocated by Burmese government in early 2009.

Business owners in Myitkyina township are struggling to survive after COVID-19 lockdowns forced their restaurants and beer stations to close. Wah Yon Taw, Nagar lake, and Blue Water lake recreational areas, located near Aung Myin Thar, have been shut since March.

Lu Ra, who had a shop in Wah Yon Taw for two years, said the lockdowns have been tough on her business. “We don’t have any other earnings. I heard that the government provided basic food to working-class people but we didn’t get any of it. I don’t know if this pandemic will end but if it continues like this soon we won’t have anything left to eat.”

After being forced to move from their original villages because of the Myitsone dam, Lu Ra said the government should be taking care of them during the lockdown.

Aung Myin Thar and Mali Yang were established in 2010 after villagers from Mali Zup, Tang Hpre, and Padat Pa were displaced by the dam.

The Chinese state-owned China Power Investment Corporation (CPI), which was building the dam before it was suspended in 2011, is donating 24 cans of rice to each person every four months. In the last few years, CPI has been lobbying the government and the Kachin community to revive the project.

Myitung Naw Ja, who is the headman of Aung Myin Thar, told KNG since they’ve had to leave their villages ten years ago because of the hydropower operation it’s been a constant uphill battle. “It’s been really difficult to do business,” he said. Residents used to sell things but after the COVID-19 pandemic started “all the shops are closed.”

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