Myanmar Consolidated Media
Education feature story
60th Anniversary of Indonesia~Myanmar

Ayeyarwady issue can create unity, says Suu Kyi

By Ei Ei Toe Lwin
September 26 - October 2, 2011

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the opening of the ‘Sketch of a River Art Exhibition’ with actor Ye Daik (left) at Gallery 65 in Yangon’s Dagon township on September 22.
Pic: Yadanar

DAW Aung San Suu Kyi last week urged activists to cooperate for the conservation of the Ayeyarwady River, saying the issue had the potential to unite the nation’s opposition movements.

The National League for Democracy leader was speaking at the opening of the “Sketch of a River Art Exhibition” on September 22, which brought together works from 50 artists. The three-day exhibition, held at Gallery 65 in Dagon township, was organised to highlight the importance of the river in the nation’s economic, cultural and environmental sectors and, in particular, to express opposition to a controversial dam project on its upper reaches.

“I’m very pleased to see so many people at this show. And also I would like to encourage all to unite together for the sustainability of the Ayeyarwady,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said. “If we can pursue with unity one issue that we all believe in, there will be more unity on other issues. “I would like to request all people from different sectors to get involved” in the conservation movement, she said.

The exhibition was organised by the Green Hearts Environment Network and activists described Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s support as “exciting” and “inspiring” and said it showed she was on the side of the people. “There’s no doubt that by attending this photo exhibition [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] is showing that she also does not want this dam project to be implemented.

We now believe that we will really see a day when [the dam project is stopped],” Daw Daewi Thant Zin, chief editor of monthly magazine Aung Pin Lae, told The Myanmar Times at the exhibition. Dr Ohnmar Khaing, coordinator of the Food Security Working Group, which published books, pamphlets and research papers on agriculture and livestock, said she was “very pleased” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had supported the show. “People believe in her because she never does anything just for show.

She knows the current situation of the Ayeyarwady,” she said. “I want her to attend other shows like this so she can keep in touch with the people and know the desire of the people. On the other hand, I want to say to everyone else, ‘Do not be afraid to participate in these kinds of activities’.” U Ohn, vice chairman of the Forest Resource and Environmental Development Association (FREDA), said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s attendance was a “good sign”.

“It shows her interest in environmental affairs. I plan to meet with her next month to discuss the environmental situation in Myanmar. I believe she can help us in our work because of her high international profile,” he said.

U Soe Win Nyein, a photographer and member of the Green Hearts network, said while discussion of the Ayeyarwady dam issue had dramatically increased in recent weeks, the network had been working on the show for almost two years. “I do not want to say anything special – the photos are evidence enough,” he said.