Open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi to address water contamination issue

Your Excellency;

First of all, I am Saw Paul Sein Twa, the Chairperson of the Salween Peace Park in Mutraw District, Karen State, Kawthooeli, Eastern Myanmar, which recently was awarded the 2020 Equator Prize.

I work closely with local Indigenous Karen people and walk with them as they struggle to establish and govern their Indigenous territory known as the Salween Peace Park. I am working  to protect our natural environment and precious biodiversity through the preservation of our Indigenous Karen people’s culture and through the recognition of their Indigenous rights to create a model of sustainable development that is harmonious with our Indigenous Karen people’s way of life in their ancestral lands. 

Since October 2019, the communities from over 17 villages around Myaing Ka Lay area, Hpa-an Township, Karen State, have been experienced water contamination, abnormal fish deaths, skin diseases from using contaminated water, and other health problems. I learned about this environmental crisis and challenges that the people are facing here from various media reports by international news agencies, video documentaries, and a joint report by Karen Rivers Watch (KRW), Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), and the Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA). 

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Saw Paul Sein Twa