Myanmar mine protesters reject official report
APYANGON, Myanmar -- Opponents of a nearly US$1 billion copper mine in northwestern Myanmar expressed outrage Tuesday over a government-ordered report that said the project should continue and that refrained from demanding punishment for police involved in a violent crackdown on protesters.
March 14, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi chaired the investigation commission that produced the report, which was released Monday night. It could pose a problem for Suu Kyi by identifying her with the pro-growth policies of the government against the interests of grassroots people's movements.
President Thein Sein appointed the commission after police cracked down on protesters at the Letpadaung mine Nov. 29, leaving scores hospitalized with serious burns. Most of the people burned were Buddhist monks. Thwe Thwe Win, a protest leader, said Tuesday that demonstrations will resume.
“I am very dissatisfied, and it is unacceptable,” she said. “There is no clause that will punish anyone who had ordered the violent crackdown. Action should be taken against the person who gave the order.”
Suu Kyi is scheduled to travel to the mine area, in Monywa township, 760 kilometers (450 miles) north of Yangon, to talk with the protesting villagers Wednesday.
Protesters say the mine, a joint venture between China's Wan Bao mining company and a Myanmar military conglomerate, causes environmental, social and health problems and should be shut down.
The report said the operation should not be halted, even as it acknowledged that the mine lacked strong environmental protection measures and would not create more jobs for local people. The report said scrapping the mine could create tension with China and could discourage badly needed foreign investment.
Those seeking to stop the project contend that the US$997 million joint venture deal, signed in May 2010, did not undergo parliamentary scrutiny because it was concluded under the previous military regime.
Many in Myanmar remain suspicious of the military and regard China as an aggressive and exploitative investor that helped support its rule.