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Myitsone marchers on the home straight

After two months of walking across the country, a group of campaigners dubbed the ‘Myitsone marchers’ reached Sagaing Division’s Katha district on Tuesday.

The activists are calling for the complete suspension of the Myitsone hydroelectric dam project, which was halted in 2011 by President Thein Sein’s government after public opposition to the development.

The group started their walk in Rangoon on 14 March, which coincided with International Rivers’ Day, and have travelled 1,000 kilometres on foot, taking them almost across the entire length of central Burma.

Despite the hardship of the journey, the activists said they have been welcomed in towns and villages along the way.

“We faced a lot of struggles on the way,” said one of the Myitsone marchers. “We even had to cook for ourselves in some villages, but we improvised means to get us through. We also received healthcare assistance from organisations such as the NLD [National League for Democracy] and local villagers.”

Forty-three activists began the marathon hike by splitting into four groups – each taking different routes to Myitsone.

The Myitsone marchers are now on the home straight as they have about 300km of further hiking until they reach the Irrawaddy river confluence – and the home of the Myitsone Dam.