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Miners protesting against the suspension of the Moehti Moemi gold mine in Mandalay division’s Yamethin have condemned the issuing of arrest warrants for protest leaders who are being charged for sedition under Article 505(b) of the Burmese penal code.
On 26 December, authorities in Yamethin township issued arrest warrants for five protest leaders following a clash with police a week earlier when nine miners including a pregnant woman, and two policemen were injured.
The miners, occupying at a sit-in rally camp on Shwemyintin Hill, said they were running low on food as the police were blocking sympathisers and supporters from bringing supplies to the protesting workers.
“We have around 15 children in the camp who also face food shortages,” said protestor Nan Ei Phyo. “We are determined to stay here and fight, but the children aren’t strong enough.”
Earlier this month, U Wimala, the abbot of Seitta Thukha Monastery on nearby Shweyinhmyaw Hill, was evicted from the site for allowing a protest camp to be situated in the monastery compounds.
Thousands of miners in Yamethin have held protests and sit-ins since the Ministry of Mining demanded the suspension of all small-scale mining operations across the country in mid-2012, leaving them jobless.
The protestors claim the ministry ousted the small mining firms so that it could invite bids from major international mining companies.