Latpadaung commission delays report for third time

Latpadaung commission delays report for third time

The Latpadaung Inquiry Commission, which is investigating the violent crackdown on peaceful protestors near a Chinese-backed copper mine in November, has delayed the publication of its highly-anticipated report for the third time.

The group was initially tipped to publish its findings in late December, before postponing it to January and then February. An interim report was submitted to the president on 31 January, but it was not made publicly available.

“Previously we aimed to present the report by the end of February – we’ve finished all the assignments on our part and have submitted those to the chairperson to publish the report,” said Khin San Hlaing, Lower House representative and member of the commission led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

According to Khin San Hlaing, the group had agreed to hold talks on 1 March, but the meeting never materialised.

“I think [Suu Kyi] is delaying it for a reason but this is just my opinion so it could be right or wrong, but hopefully there’ll be something worth waiting for,” said Khin San Hlaing.

The commission’s secretary Kyaw Tint Swe refused to comment on the progress of the report when contacted by DVB.

The commission has been tasked with investigating a brutal crackdown on protestors at Sagaing division’s Latpadaung Copper Mine, where police launched a pre-dawn assault against demonstrators’ camps on 29 November.

The crackdown left more than 100 protestors injured, most of whom were monks who suffered from serious burns after they were struck with incendiary devices.

According to an independent investigation carried out by the Lawyers’ Network (Myanmar) and the US-based Justice Trust, Burmese riot police used white phosphorous to disperse the protestors.

Government officials have denied using the military-issue agent against the protestors and are waiting till the official commission publishes its findings.

“We will only consider the report from the official inquiry led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” the president’s spokesperson Ye Htut told DVB in February.

On 28 February, hundreds of protestors, locals and activists in Latpadaung marked the three-month anniversary of the crackdown in Tonywa village, where they demanded a complete halt to the controversial project and prosecution of the individuals responsible for the crackdown.

The Latpadaung Copper Mining project is a joint venture between the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings and Chinese partner Wanbao.

The project has led to the confiscation of about 7,800 acres of farmland in total and forced farmers from 66 villages in the area to relocate.

Chit Tin, chairperson of Monywa-based campaign group Latpadaung Rescue Committee, said the complete suspension of the project is the only measure that could end the protests.

“Everyone in the area wants to see the mountain survive and the only way to make it possible is to end the project,” said Chit Tin.

“Otherwise, people will never rest and there’ll be no calm.”

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