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Nine activists have been released following their arrest on Wednesday after a protest near the Latpadaung copper mine turned violent.
A group of 30 residents were forcibly halted by police listed to accompany Wanbao staff as they erected a fence near the industrial site, on land that the villagers claimed as theirs. Prominent anti-mine activist Thwe Thwe Win was among those detained.
Residents of Wet Hmay village have been some of the most heavily affected by the Latpadaung copper mine project, operated by Chinese firm Wanbao in conjunction with military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings. Wet Hmay villagers have refused compensation for their land, confiscated in 2012.
“They were bulldozing the land right in front of us, so I grabbed onto one of the bulldozers and started riding it along, forcing it to stop” began Thwe Thwe Win.
“After that, Ma Sein and I went to sit in front of it and the police told us to get in the police-truck — we resisted. Two policewomen dragged me into the truck. They said Khin Thaung and I were arrested for sitting in front of the bulldozer, another villager Yi Cho for apologising, Se Tin for crying. Phyu Phyu Win was arrested for knocking over rolls of fencing, and she grabbed on tightly to a Chinese Wanbao worker next to her. She shouted that she would not die alone.
“We were released around 6:20pm in the evening after – they only asked for my age and full name but there was no other negotiation,” said Thwe Thwe Win.
The arrested protestors were identified as Thwe Thwe Win, Phyu Phyu Win, Khin Thaung, Ma Sein, Yi Cho, Se Tin, Myint Naing Win, Thike Tun Shwe and Aung Kyaw Soe Oo.