The documentary film “Murdering the Mekong” shines a spotlight on the once-mighty Mekong River, which is plagued by a relentless series of dams and now pleads for mercy, and an opportunity to rebound from the devastating impacts of hydropower.

This film pointed out that the same Thai team behind the Xayaburi dam are now building an even bigger dam near the UNESCO World Heritage site in Luang Prabang, which has been described as a “High Risk Dam” with its location in an active earthquake zone. The Lao government & the Thai developer have ignored repeated appeals from UNESCO to stop the project, and move the dam to a safe location. In spite of the damage done by dams, the response from the Mekong River Commission and the four member- states follow the mantra of “sustainable hydropower” while the developers carry on steering the Mekong towards ecological oblivion.

The film was screened and discussed on 25 July 2023, 6.00-7.30 pm at SEA Junction, 4th floor, BACC. This special screening featured an extended version of the original 2022 production, including recently filmed footage that adds depth and completeness to the narrative.

Following the screening, filmmaker Tom Fawthrop led a discussion alongside the speaker, Ormbun Thipsuna (Network of Council of Mekong River Community in 7 Northeastern Provinces). The panel delved into the controversial topic of whether sustainable hydropower on tropical rivers is a deception, given the absence of successful examples thus far. The event explored the detrimental impact of the Thai dam projects on mainstream Mekong, which threaten to wipe out numerous fish species, damage food security and biodiversity along the river, risk triggering earthquakes, and also damage this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo credit: Kelly Khin, Chawin Chantalikit and Bangkok Tribute News