08 Jan Letpadaung mine talks set for this month

Written by Yu Wai Published in Latpadaung Read 2756 times
Photo: Ko Han Win Aung/Facebook
Efforts are underway to hold discussions about the expansion of the controversial Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region. Local protesters at the mine site on January 1, 2015. Photo: Ko Han Win Aung/Facebook

Civil society groups involved in trying to resolve the conflict over expansion of the controversial Letpaduang copper mine say a meeting is planned shortly in which the main parties, including representatives from the companies, will discuss the issue.

Ma Moe Moe Tun, the joint secretary of the group Sein Lan Pyin Oo Lwin, told Mizzima on January 7 that the office of the Myanmar Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or MEITI has confirmed by phone that the meeting will be held on January 15-16. It would include representatives of civil society groups, the government and the companies concerned, Chinese-owned Wanbao and the Union of Myanmar Holdings.

On December 31, concerned NGOs submitted a petition letter to the Deputy Finance Minister Dr Maung Maung Thein and MEITI to hold a tripartite meeting to solve the problem, according to Ma Moe Moe Tun.

She said the NGOs proposed that Union Minister U Soe Thein, the Deputy Finance Minister Dr Maung Maung Thein, members of the Letpadaung report implementation committee, officials from the companies and NGOs involved should attend the meeting.

“Some people we have invited are from the government side. If those people don’t participate in the meeting, we will not attend the meeting. They phoned us and said that they would attend the meeting. But we have yet to receive an official confirmation letter,” Ma Moe Moe Tun said.

Nine representatives from civil society organizations including the 88-Generation Peace and Open Society, Sein Lan Pyin Oo Lwin and Sein Yaung So will attend the meeting.

U Tun Myint Aung, a member of the 88-Generation Peace and Open Society, said: “If a meeting like this cannot be held, Myanmar will encounter difficulties in its efforts to become a member of EITI [Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative]. We will give top priority to the Letpadaung affair. Our discussions will focus on transparency and accountability.”

Five residents from the mine area in Sagaing Region who are representatives of the Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability or MATA have also been invited to attend the meeting, according to Ma Moe Moe Tun.

In December, Wanbao company staff began erecting a fence around land in Letpadaung that residents claim belongs to them, prompting a protest. On December 22, clashes between the residents and the police broke out, and a woman was shot dead by security police and more than 10 people were injured. Two residents received gunshot wounds in clashes on December 23.

The violent response prompted protests in Yangon and Mandalay, calling for the mine expansion to be halted and for justice for those killed and injured.

Last modified on Thursday, 08 January 2015 12:51