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Protestors who are still camped out near a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine in central Burma were warned by the government on Friday morning to leave the area.
According to Tin Mar Swe, a DVB reporter on ground, five government officials from the Ministry of Construction entered the camp this morning and ordered the dozens of protestors to leave the area.
“The [authorities] are ordering [the protestors] to shut down the camp, but they won’t allow an interview – they just kept saying it was due to an ‘order from above’,” said Tin Mar Swe.
Ma Khine, a resident in Tonywa village, said she had no plans to move out and would continue to protest peacefully.
“We are only protesting peacefully to end the copper mining project and we won’t move out,” said Ma Khine.
The rally camp was set up a few days after a police crackdown on protest camps near the copper mine in late November last year, which injured close to 100 people, mostly monks, when police unloaded incendiary devices into the camp.
The order to evacuate the camp comes after the Latpadaung Investigation Commission’s chair Aung San Suu Kyi wrapped up a visit to the area yesterday, where she faced large crowds of angry locals.
Residents in the area were incensed after Suu Kyi insisted that the mine should not be ‘unilaterally’ cancelled and made no mention of prosecuting the police responsible for last year’s assault on demonstrators.
The Lady also warned villagers that they must seek permission before staging further protests or risk punishment.
“Let me tell you frankly, if you wish to protest, get permission [in accordance with the] law. Local authorities guarantee that if the people request permission to protest, we will allow it,” said Suu Kyi on Wednesday.
“Don’t protest without getting permission from the authorities. I suggested that the authorities take action if the people protest without getting permission because there must be law enforcement in our country.”
The copper mine is a joint venture between the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holding and Wanbao, the subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacture. The project is responsible for the confiscation of about 7,800 acres of farmland and forced farmers from 66 villages in the area to relocate
On Thursday, hundreds of protestors marched about nine miles from the Tonywa camp to demonstrate in front of the Wanbao Mining Company’s office.