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Two Karenni NGOs have called on the Burmese government to suspend all mining licences issued since March 2012 for the eastern state until there is constitutional reform granting ethnic states the right to control and manage their own natural resources.
In a joint-statement issued last week, the Molo Women Mining Watch Network and Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN) strongly condemned the Burmese government’s practice of granting mining contracts in conflict zones in Karenni state.
According to the groups, since the Karenni National Progressive Party signed a ceasefire with the Burmese government some 18 months ago, the number of mines in Karenni state has risen from three to 16.
“Tin and tungsten mines in Mawchi mining town have been expanded, and new antimony, coal, galena and gold mines are being mined throughout Karenni state,” said the report.
Khu Mi Reh, a spokesperson for the KCSN, said: “We are calling for the suspension of the mining projects, including one by an Australian company that covers 100,000 acres of land.”
Ah Ku, a local woman from Mawchi, said: “If the mining projects in this area increase any further, we will lose the land that we rely upon for our livelihoods.”
Despite rich natural resources in Karenni state, local people have not benefited but instead have lost their farmlands, mountains, rivers, livelihoods and villages due to forced relocation, land confiscation and environment destruction related to the mining projects, said the report.