Prayer Ceremony Held In Attempt to Stop Dam Construction

About 400 indigenous Lao villagers prayed and sacrificed chickens to a powerful local spirit yesterday in Stung Treng province, seeking supernatural help in halting the planned construction of the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, villagers and commune officials said yesterday. The hydropower projects, funded by Vietnam Electricity, will flood tens of thousands of hectares of forest and farmland, and displace 5,000 mostly indigenous minority villagers in Sesan district. Although plans for the dam have been in the works since 2008, villagers have never been officially informed about resettlement plans or when construction is scheduled to start, although they were told in May that they would be evicted. … With these worries in mind, villagers from three affected communes – Srekor, Kbal Romeas and Phluk – came together yesterday with more than 50 other villagers who boated in from Ratanakiri province to pray before the local spirit, Neak Ta Krahorm Kar, which roughly translates as “spirit with the red neck.”