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Page history last edited by garfield3717383@gmail.com 11 years, 4 months ago


Assembly of the Poor is the strongest peoples’ organization in Thailand, with one of its roots in the struggle against the World Bank-funded Pak Mun dam, completed in 1994, which displaced at least 600 families from their villages, starved the river of fish, and gave the people meagre and unfertile lands in recompense. Primarily fisher-folk, fishing was a deep part of their culture and the basis for their livelihoods. As a result of displacement by the dam, many were forced to join the ranks of the destitute in Bangkok. Dam-affected villagers have never given up their fight, and have fuelled Thailand’s dynamic anti-dam movement which also opposes the Rasi Salai dam further down the Pak Mun river, among others.



They have also fuelled a wider movement against globalization made up of all those, rural and urban, left out of the Thai economic ‘miracle’. On 25 January 1997, the Assembly of the Poor made a huge impression on the Thai political imagination when 20,000 dam-affected villagers, small farmers, and fisher-folk erected a makeshift Village of the Poor’ of plastic shacks which stretched back nearly a mile down the Nakhon Pathom Road outside Government House in Bangkok. A spanner in the works

of the globalization project, they camped there in the stink of the smog and the traffic for 99 days, growing vegetables illegally along the banks of the city’s river. Then in 1998, international speculators betting against south east Asian currencies, caused the economy to go into free fall, revealing that Thailand’s prosperity was built like a house of cards. The Government bowed to resulting austerity measures imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), belts tightened and unemployment soared.

他們還推動更廣泛的反抗農村和城市中的全球化運動,擺脫泰國經濟奇蹟1997125,窮人議會在泰國的政治力上作出了大幅想像時,2萬個受大壩影響的村民,這些小農和漁民搭起了一個"貧困村"─塑膠的臨時棚屋,在曼谷總督府外的Nakhon Pathom路拉起將近一英里的距離。在破壞全球化的計畫中,他們在那個排放惡臭廢氣的道路上駐紮長達99天,沿著城市的河岸邊非法種菜。然後在1998年,國際投機份子放空南東亞貨幣投資,造成經濟了崩盤,揭露泰國的繁榮就像紙牌搭蓋的房子隨時都會倒榻。國際貨幣基金( IMF )的徵收使泰國政府發布緊縮措施減少開支,失業率上升。


So in 1998 the village came again, this time to join the coalition of protest movements against the IMF, and protests and resistance have continued ever since against structural targets of globalization such as the WTO and the Asian Development Bank.



Power Generation:the protest villages of Thailand

by Velcrow Ripper


~Velcrow Ripper


Pak Mun Dam, Thailand, July 2000 In the soft gold of magic-hour an old man is weaving a fishing net that will catch few fish. Behind him is the metal mesh of a chain-link fence emblazoned with the Thai words, Danger! High Voltage!” and the silhouette of a man killed by the misuse of power. Inside the fence stand the hulking transformers connected to the turbines of the dam, the dam that destroyed the old man’s village. High-tension powerlines stretch off to massive pylons disappearing into the distance, taking the electricity to the city. A meagre output the dam delivers a fraction of what it was supposed to, and then only in the rainy season.



But the actual productivity of a dam is rarely the issue. The World Bank contributes a generous loan, contractors get fat, everyone at the top of the food chain benefits – at least until it's time to pay off the debt. The government can feel a step closer to joining the exclusive club of ‘developed’ nations. And the price? Incalculable. The loss of a way of life for a people, the loss of life for countless species. And for some, that existed only here in the Mun River, the greatest loss, extinction. Worse than mere death: the end of birth.



The first towering metal pylon rises above a new village, Mae Mun Yuen One, Mother Mun Protest Village Number One, Thailand’s first protest village. Six thousand villagers are (next page)



spread around the land surrounding the dam in thatched roofed bamboo huts built on stilts. They've been here for 15 months. The numbers keep growing, their spirit of resistance strengthening with time, not weakening as the officials hoped. Instead, the shacks are spreading out, gaining more ground in a nonviolent wave of people power.

第一個高聳的高壓電纜塔豎立在一個新的村莊, Mae Mun Yuen One, Mother Mun 抗議村莊是泰國第一個抗議村莊。六千個村民在大壩的土地周圍搭蓋起用茅草做屋頂的竹棚高腳屋。他們已經在這裡長達15 個月。成員還在不斷增加,他們的反抗精神隨著時間的推移增強,而不是如同政府希望減弱的那樣。相反的,棚屋的擴散,以人民為力量的非暴力浪潮取回更多的土地。


It has become an autonomous zone, attracting like-minded people from across the country, from around the world. The state does not enter here. Taxes are not collected, laws are applied by the community. There are refugees from the military dictatorship in Burma, landless peasants from the Cambodian border, activists from Canada, Australia, India, here in solidarity, to offer their bodies, to receive shelter, to

learn from the strength of this movement. The wave of resistance is spreading throughout Thailand, which is now witness to more than 200 protests a year.



A diverse spectrum of factory workers, fisher-folk, students, landless farmers, urban poor, all those affected by so-called ‘development’, have banded together under an enormous umbrella group called the Assembly of the Poor. Throughout the camp hand-silk-screened red or yellow flags    proudly proclaim “Poor!” in Thai and English. The Assembly was born in 1997 from a protest encampment of 20,000 people in the centre of Bangkok. That moment gave a focus and unity to the movement which still resonates in Thailand today, the way Seattle sends out waves of inspiration.

各種不同領域的工廠工人,漁民,學生,無地的農民,都市貧民,所有受這些所謂'發展' 影響的人,在稱為龐大的雨傘團體的窮人議會下已經團結起來。整個陣營都是紅色或黃色的手工絲幔旗幟,印上泰文和英文,正當地宣告“貧窮!”。窮人議會成立於1997年,抗議陣營的2萬人在曼谷該中心集結。這次運動讓整個反抗力量聚焦並且團結起來,今天這股力量仍然在泰國引起共鳴,這也引發西雅圖的運動方式的靈感。


The struggle against the Pak Mun Dam has been going on since 1990. Initially the Electricity Generating Agency of Thailand (EGAT), ran into a snag: the dam site was located on national park land. That was easily worked around – the staff of EGAT simply had themselves declared park rangers. They were merely improving the park. They moved in and began blasting away the 50 rapids of the Mun River – the spawning beds for the fish, the fish the villagers depended on for their lives.

帕穆大壩的抗爭從1990年以來一直持續著。起初泰國發電局 (EGAT) 遇上了一個問題:大壩位置是位於國家公園的土地上。這很好解決-發電局員工只要聲稱自己是公園管理員。他們只是要改善公園。他們搬進去,並開始在穆河引爆50個急流-那是魚產卵的河床,村民以這些魚為生。


What was once a parking lot for the dam's visitor centre is now the headquarters for the dam protest. Sentries sit next to a bamboo gate which is raised and lowered with the help of a makeshift pulley system. Standing guard on one side of the gates, a giant fish trap towers up 20 feet, woven from reeds, a long slender cone. It was used to capture a single fish, the giant dinosaur fish that lived only in the Mun (next page)



River. Now they live nowhere on earth.



In the centre of the paved lot, in a little green island, is a bronze coloured statue of three life-sized human figures, two kneeling on the ground, another standing proud with fist raised to the sky in a gesture of defiance. A sign reads Monument to the Poor”. There is a stage with speaker system and microphones hooked up to loudspeakers and a bamboo hut on stilts that is the nerve centre of the operation. Inside I am surprised to see a fax machine, a couple of computers, and a line of cell phones charging.



Political posters adorn the walls – a dove impaled on a machine gun, commemorating the anniversary of the students massacred in 1992. Another photo from the student massacre of 1976. A soldier in the foreground, holding a rifle, and hundreds of students lying on the ground with their hands behind their heads. A batik painting of the Village of the Poor, electricity pylon rising in the centre, bamboo huts spread out around the hillside.



Morning, and we gather on the deck of the big house to eat sticky rice, fish paste, and a basket of greens harvested from the river, seated on a woven reed mat under the shadow of the enormous pylon. EGAT, the village dog, comes sniffing around hoping for hand-outs. People love to say, Bad EGAT!” to him. Poor dog, stuck with the moniker of the enemy.


Rivers and forests on which the survival of rural families depend have been plundered from the people… the collapse of agricultural society forces people out of their communities to cheaply sell their labour in the city…The people must set up the country’s development direction. The people must be the real beneficiaries of development.” – Assembly of the Poor, 1997



I meet Pon, who has been an activist for over a decade, though he is only 30. He was beaten and arrested in the early years of the struggle to save the Mun and thrown in (next page)



when he was seven. Paolo is focused, determined. “This river is not for me, myself but for all people everywhere and in the future too,” he says. “Everyone uses the river. No one is an owner. No one owns the forest. So I’d like to tell everybody who can see this that they should look out for nature. In our free time what do we do? We go out and have fun. We waste time. We should use this time to educate ourselves on what is the actual situation. What is the effect of these mega-projects.

我遇到Pon,他做為行動主義者已經十多年,儘管他只有30 歲。他在早年穆河的抗爭中遭毆打和逮捕,當時他僅7歲。Paolo專注而且堅決:"這條河不是我的,而是世界各地所有人以及要留給未來的"。他說。“每個人都需要這條河。沒有人有權擁有它。沒有人有權擁有森林。所以我想告訴大家誰能夠以明白到這一點就能夠展望未來。在我們的空閒時候能怎麼做?我們出去找娛樂。我們是在浪費時間。我們應該利用這段時間來教育我們自己到底什麼是實際情況。這些幾百萬的投資計畫到底有什麼影響。


We’re still kids. Not long from now we will grow up. Our children, our grandchildren gonna have children. They’ll have children and are they gonna see that nature returns?” I hop on back of a motorcycle with Pon and a Filipino- American media activist named Cray. We speed along the broad paved road and out onto the dam crest.



On 15 May 2000, a year after the establishment of the protest village, the villagers awoke at 2.00 am and made their way here to the fence, blocking the dam itself. There was only one guard in his little house by the gate that night, asleep.Unbeknownst to him, he was also locked inside. The villagers, young and old, carrying reed mats and pots of food, scaled the fence and began running across the crest of the dam. High

above the water rushing through unseen turbines, past the surveillance cameras, to a second gate. Again they climbed, and they were in! The gate was cut and a sound system on a truck pulled in, blasting out traditional Thai music. The villagers danced ecstatically while the sun slowly rose.



Today the protest village extends along the entire top of the dam. The fishermen climb down the catwalks above the turbines and string out their nets to catch a few of the meagre remnants of fish that still swim the river. It’s a startling juxtaposition of the villagers with their traditional nets against the metal and concrete monolith of the dam. At night guitars around campfires strum out protest songs: I'm tired, but I'm still fighting...”



Rasi Salai dam

One day I climb into the back of a pick-up truck with Sikyamet, an activist with the South East Asia Rivers Network, for a two hour drive south, down to the site of Mae Mun Yuen Protest Villages – Numbers Two, Three, and Eight (next page)



which surround the Rasi Salai Dam, another blockage downstream on the Mun River. We pass a long row of deserted concrete buildings high on stilts – the houses the government had built in hopes of enticing the villagers away from the protest site. No-one had taken the bait, and the houses, surrounded by infertile soil, sit empty.


有一天,我和Sikyamet 爬進一輛小卡車的後頭,他在東南亞河流組織裡是一個行動主義者,車子往南開了兩小時的車程,抵達Mae Mun Yuen 抗議村莊-二號,三號,八號的抗村落圍繞著拉西薩萊大壩,它們是另外在穆河下游的封鎖線。我們通過一排長排水泥搭蓋的空屋建築物-是政府建立的房屋,希望誘使村民離開抗議村落。沒有人因此受到誘惑,這些房屋蓋在貧瘠附近空無一物的土地上。


Now the reservoir of the Rasi Salai dam stretches before us, murky water, remains of a forest rising up from its depths, dead trees, twisted forms against a threatening sky. This dam was ostensibly built to provide irrigation to the surrounding fields. Unfortunately, the land contains underground repositories of salt – a legacy of the distant past when this land was a sea bed – and the water of the reservoir became salinized, useless for agriculture. The government did an environmental impact assessment, the villagers later told me, after the completion of the dam.



They were able to laugh at this incredible stupidity when they told me, though it was the ruin of their lives. They have encountered nothing but lies and manipulation by the dam builders, who would prefer them to conveniently disappear. But they will not disappear. Instead, they have made their presence well-known, constructing a protest village in the middle of the reservoir, above the flooded land that was once their homes. They have spent nine months living in this makeshift village, perched on stilts, waters slowly rising around them.



We climb into the middle of a long dug-out, sat crosslegged on a flat platform of woven reeds, and push out into the water. Our smiling boat driver starts up the outboard engine and lowers the propeller, jutting six feet out the back of the boat at the end of a long metal shaft. We glide past lily pads dotted with lotus flowers. Purple tinged white. The lotus is a Buddhist symbol of awakening.



It emerges from the mud of existence, but is unstained, only strengthened, fed. For the villagers, there can be no compensation for the loss they have experienced. Yet, they have had to plumb their depths for previously unknown strength, to stand up and fight, and have learned to fight without violence. To live in unity, united in their opposition, supported around the country, and gradually learning that they are part of a much larger community, coming to understand the greater world of resistance, in the face of the greater world of repression.



After 20 minutes we pass four outhouses sheltered by tarpaulin atop a little island. Soon we enter ‘water world’: a collection of thatch roofed huts with bamboo walls and floors, interconnected with precarious one-plank walkways high above the water. Outside many of the huts, ancient dugout canoes bob in the murky water. We pull up to the big house and hoist ourselves up onto a catwalk. We remove our shoes as we step onto an open bamboo platform covered with a thatched roof. In the centre of the room a large brown painting depicts three men in uniforms holding aloft a huge scroll which represents the constitution of the country.

20分鐘後,我們通過一個小島嶼上四個用防水布遮蓋的屋子。很快我們進入'水的世界' :由竹子圍成牆面和地板以及茅草大概的小屋,房子間靠著水面上不牢固的走道相通。許多小屋外面,古老的獨木舟漂浮在混濁的水面。我們在大房子前停下來,走上狹窄的通道。我們脫掉鞋子,走在鬆散用茅草鋪蓋的竹板上。房間中央的畫是描繪三名穿著制服的男子,高舉一個象徵憲法國家的巨大卷軸。


Around them are the faces of peasants, in their conical woven straw hats, or wearing bandannas emblazoned with revolutionary symbols. The boots of one of the uniformed men rests firmly atop the head of a peasant man. (next page)



The villagers stand up to their waist in the water, the rising waters threatening to drown them, as it has drowned their very way of life. Their hands are raised in prayer position as they enact their morning ritual of thanks to the river, of apology to the river, of thanks to the Buddha. Each night, another ceremony is dedicated to their brothers and sisters in the struggle at the Narmada Dam in India.

農民在他們周圍,帶著圓錐草帽,或戴著革命的象徵的紅色頭巾。當中一個人的靴子放置在農民的頭上。村民們站起來,水到他們腰間,上升水有可能會淹死他們,就如同淹沒他們的生活。他們舉手祈禱感謝河流是每天早上的儀式,對河流道歉,感謝佛祖。每天晚上,另外有儀式獻身於他們在印度的Narmada Dam鬥爭中的兄弟姐妹。


We slowly drift towards them in a dug out canoe as they chant in front of their sinking village, past the lines of committed faces, ending in silence, hands in prayer position, standing unmoving in the water that was their land. They don't spend all day standing in the water, just each morning, and night. The fact is, however, that the villagers are prepared to drown. They will not leave unless the dam is decommissioned. A similar protest is held at the Narmada dam site at monsoon time. Villagers chain themselves to their original homes as the waters rise, determined to drown until they are removed by force.



Early morning, we’re gliding above the flooded land in a long dug out canoe that needs constant bailing. “This is where the forest was,” say the villagers accompanying me. They point to dead twisted trees rising from the murky water. Eerie silence. “The sound of the birds used to accompany us on our walks. There were deer, wild chickens. We would gather herbs and mushrooms.” Through the light rain, threatening clouds reflect on a glassy surface. “We believe that there is a spirit in everything, in the forest, in the river. We call the forest grandfather.



The river is female.” Running parallel to us is another boat filled with villagers. In the bow of our boat, an old woman with wrinkled face and betel-nut-stained teeth sits in contemplation, her gnarled hands weaving reed into basket. Hours pass. In the distance, through the skeletal trees draped in seaweed, the Rasi Salai Dam appears, disappears, re-appears. The little engine of the boat is the only sound in the dead calm of the stagnant water, stopped up by the slowly approaching monstrosity.



Colourful tents become visible atop the dam, the tents of the protest village, Mae Mun Yuen Number Eight. “A few days after the protesters at Pak Mun dam took over their dam crest, we did the same thing, marching from the first (next page)



protest village, along the road, to the gates of the dam. We waited for the news from Pak Mun and when we saw that they hadn’t been arrested, we too climbed the fence and took over this dam,” a villager explains, laughing. We drift parallel to the massive impassive grey concrete of the dam with its incongruous cavalcade of fabric from the protesters sprouting from the crest. There are 700 protesters at this site, many of them the original villagers. The sound of water rushing through the partly opened gates reverberates. We pull up to an enormous concrete-covered slope, and hop out of the boat, scrambling up to the camp above.

大壩上色彩繽紛的帳篷清楚可見,Mae Mun Yuen第八個抗議村莊的帳篷。“過幾天,在抗議者接管帕穆大壩頂之後,我們也做了同樣的事情,從第一個抗議村莊遊行,沿著公路,抵達大壩閘門。我們等待來自帕穆大壩的消息時,而且我們看到他們並沒有被逮捕時,我們也爬上柵欄和接管這個大壩,“一名村民說著就笑了起來。我們隨著大壩頂的抗議者散開來,並行滑入巨型、冰冷、灰色水泥的大壩。有700名抗議者在這個地方,其中許多是原來的村民。水流流過部分開放的閘門時引發回聲。我們在一個巨大水泥斜坡停下來,爭相跳出船來到營地上。


A man in army fatigues walks through the lines of tents, shouting through a megaphone, calling people to their daily meetings. Sykamet explains that “the larger group is split into a number of smaller groups, and every day they get together in meetings to discuss problems, discuss strategy. Each group is of about ten to twenty people.” Like the concept of affinity groups, smaller autonomous groups within the larger community.



From the dam, fisherfolk hang nets 100 feet down to the rushing water to try and snare the few fish that make it through. Stretching away from the dam, Pak Mun takes on the appearance of a river once again – though what I am seeing can no longer be accurately described as a river. Scientists would call it “reservoir outflow”, a sadly depleted echo of its former existence. The water coming from the reservoir is severely de-oxygenated, and much of the usual life cannot survive.



Gleaming there and humming, [the dam] stands like a very talisman of change, a miraculous intrusion, as though its engineers have flown down from Mars itself and brought their anvils with them.” – James Morris, The Road to Huddersfield, here commenting on World Bank-funded Bhumipol dam in Thailand in a book commissioned by the World Bank, 1964

“閃閃發光,並哼唱, [大壩]的站立像是一個環境變動的象徵,驚人的入侵,就如同從火星來的策劃者帶著他的鐵台一起下來。“-詹姆斯莫里斯,哈德斯菲爾德之路,這裡談論的就是世界銀行委編的書中受世界銀行資助的泰國Bhumipol dam1964


Further down the road, near the gate they had scaled a month earlier, a group of villagers are busy digging a tunnel. They have decided to take matters into their own hands, and with picks, shovels, and their bare hands, are creating a channel through the road, to drain the reservoir, and return the Mun river to its old course. Fifty villagers, men and women, young and old, are toiling in the heat of the sun, on both sides of the road and have already succeeded in making an appreciable dent in the artificial earthen mound. Four men in longs, stripped to the waist, stand in the mucky water of the reservoir, chopping into the red clay with energy.



A huge banner hangs along the roadside above proclaiming, “Assembly of the Poor”. A man with a megaphone paces back and forth, urging the workers on. After about half an hour, the exercise is terminated for the day, and villagers return to the camp, in two orderly rows of men and women.



The whole day I find myself smiling broadly, invigorated (next page)



by the feeling of resistance and solidarity in the air. These people are not content to sit quiet and be victimized. They are standing up. Chances of the dam being completely decommissioned are slim. But they will always know that they fought, they did not allow themselves to be silently, meekly transformed into yet another poverty-stricken community, tribal people dependent on the government for handouts.



UPDATE: Since 2000, the protest villages and marches have successfully pressured the government into opening the sluice gates of the Pak Mun dam to let fish through. As a result, for the first time in the ten years since the dam was built, a single giant fish, thought to be extinct, has been seen in the river, and fishing has resumed. A groundbreaking study of villagers’ ecological knowledge of the river’s ecosystem has done much to raise the issue of rural participation and knowledge in development, and public understanding of the ecological and social issues involved. However, the villagers continue to face serious

crackdown – in January 2003 one of the protest villages was burned down by a gang of unidentified thugs. International campaigners are pressuring the World Bank to remove funding for the dam.  



Velcrow Ripper is a Canadian Academy Award (Genie) winning documentary filmmaker, writer, media activist and web artist. In progress is ScaredSacred, a book, documentary, and web project based on journeys to the ‘Ground Zeros’ of the world in search of stories of transformation, resistance, and hope.

Velcrow Ripper是一個加拿大奧斯卡獎獲獎的紀錄片製作人,也是作家、媒體行動者和網站的藝術家。在一種"神聖與恐懼"的過程中,藉著旅行尋找地動天搖的世界中的轉變、反抗和希望的故事,發展成書、紀錄片和網站。



» The International Rivers Network supports local communities working to protect their rivers and watersheds: www.irn.org

» A multimedia website documenting a long term project documenting scared and sacred places of the world: www.scaredsacred.org


»國際河流網絡支持當地社區致力於保護他們的河流和水源區: www.irn.org

»多媒體網站長期投入記錄破壞和拯救世界的計畫: www.scaredsacred.org



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