07 Jan Govt criticized for Letpadaung copper mine protest statement

Written by Min Min Published in Latpadaung Read 2492 times
Villagers sit in front of a line of police at the site of the Letpadaung mine project, before violence broke out leading to the death of a protester and injury of 10 others, December 22, 2014. Photo: Soe Moe/Facebook
Villagers sit in front of a line of police at the site of the Letpadaung mine project, before violence broke out leading to the death of a protester and injury of 10 others, December 22, 2014. Photo: Soe Moe/Facebook

Protesters against the Letpadaung copper mine project have rejected a government claim they were instigated by outsiders to carry out recent protests.

The government committee in charge of compiling an investigation report into the China-backed mine issued a statement on January 5, stating the residents were persuaded by outsiders to violently protest against fencing being erected by the mining company in the Letpadaung area.

The committee was set up by President U Thein Sein and led by President’s Office Minister U Hla Tun.

The statement also mentioned that local people attacked mine employees who were erecting the fencing with sticks, knives and catapults. A local woman, Daw Khin Win, 56, was killed in the fighting between security police and local residents.

Daw Khin San Hlaing, a Lower House MP for Pale Township, told Mizzima on January 6 that the committee statement is an insult to Letpaduang residents.

“A state-level committee should not heap all the blame on the locals, instead should prevent these situations from occurring. Obviously, the statement is an insult to the people as the committee could not address the problems,” she said.

“I frequently complained to the Sagaing Region government about their negligence in taking action against the [alleged] instigation [from outsiders]. No answer.”

Daw Khin San Hlaing said the committee’s accusation was baseless and the government should investigate the violence carried out by the security forces against the local people.

U Than Swe, a protest leader, said: “We do not get money for our protest. Our action is intended for the good of the country and people.”

Protests against the mine spread to some major cities and accelerated after Daw Khin Win shot dead by security forces on December 22, 2014.