The Mekong Harmony began with our desire to show the beauty of the Mekong River, an international river covering a distance of thousands kilometres. It has been in our minds for a long time. Embraced by the river, mountains and cliffs, the spectacular landscape always left us in awe. And as we listened and observed our nature, we saw human beings and their rhythms of life. We also saw different shades of greens of aquatic plants; some of them have white flowers, some have ruddy fruits. We heard birds chirping and their wings flapping as the fishing boats run past. We could also smell sediments in the river water and the scent of fresh fish in creels. Although we might not always be witnessing the Mekong River natural phenomena, the seasonal change and its transition have been happening regularly and repeatedly. All of life are living interdependently in order to keep the balance in nature. No one can possess nature.

This photo book will hopefully take readers to look at nature through photos of living and nonliving things which have their own ways of life changing from the dry season to the flood season, including the seasonal transition period. Looking at these photos reminded us of many feelings and inspired us to learn more about those in the photos. Some photos made us feel delighted, but some reminded us to feel too desolate. Because those environments are now lost, destroyed or permanently changed. The value of reef which are the places for birds and fish as well as local communities and their folkways are too low. It can be replaced by hydropower dams.

The Mekong River nourishes its communities and ecosystem to live harmoniously, and we call this “public interest”, having a broad meaning. It includes the benefits for both living and nonliving things, plants, and animals to live together peacefully in this ecosystem. Over 60 million people in Mekong communities have been depending on the fertility of nature.

However, the Mekong dams redefined the meaning of public purpose which is narrow and lacks inclusiveness. It gives the profits to a handful of investors who can turn the value of natural resources into money, and serves only a specific ideology. Every single money of the interests that turns into the wealth in the stock market means to the damage of the Mekong ecosystems which cannot turn back.

All the photos in “The Mekong Harmony” show the relation between living and nonliving things which have their own ways of life changing from the dry season to the flood season, including the seasonal transition period, as mentioned above. In addition, in the last chapter, we contributed to photos under the theme of “in remembrance of the Mekong” showing all of life, sceneries, plants, animals, and communities which disappeared and could not turn back due to the construction of the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams. We hope that this will remind all of us that the areas under the dams used to be full of smiles and laughter together with the sound of birds dispersing at every bend of the river, including the sounds when they were flapping when fishing boats were running past in front of them. Among different shades of greens of aquatic plants with some white flowers or ruddy fruits, we can imagine that when we walk behind fish farmers, we will smell the scent of fresh fish in creels.

…And we expect to build a collective understanding that there will be no more dams on the Mekong River.
We would like to thank the Heinrich Boll Foundation for all the support for this book project.

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