Mahlaing villagers' stalls burnt down

Dec 23, 2008 (DVB), Tensions arose between stallholders and local authorities in Mahlaing township, Mandalay division, after members of the township authorities and Swan Arr Shin burnt down stalls belonging to stone workers.

Villagers from Kyatphyu, Zigon and Hnawkan in the township said the group had burnt down stalls in the villages on at least two occasions.

On 11 December, township general administration department deputy chief Myo Han, the fire brigade chief and 12 members of Swan Arr Shin burnt down the shops, which belong to workers in the stone quarries.

In response, the villagers attacked the arsonists with stones, sticks and catapults, wounding Aye Thaung of the fire brigade and Than Htay U.

The following day, township authority chairman Myo Thant returned to Hnawkan quarry with five trucks carrying more supporters and police and burnt down more shops and arrested 14 male workers and three female shopkeepers, the villagers said.

A restraining order was placed on them on 16 December and their motorcycles were confiscated.

Villagers in the area make a living by collecting low-value fossils which have been exposed by erosion and selling them on to China.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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