Protesters set up new camps near controversial mine

Protesters set up new camps near controversial mine

Government authorities in Sagain division’s Monywa district have warned locals to shut down new rally camps set up last week to protest against the expansion of the Latpadaung Copper Mining Project.

On 12 December, local activists established two new protest sites after local police launched a pre-dawn assault on the former camps in late November, which left dozens of protesters, primarily monks, with severe burn injuries.

Salingyi township administration’s director Zaw Moe Aung instructed the protesters to close the camps but failed to convince them to follow suit.

According to DVB sources on the ground, the Ministry of Home Affair’s deputy-director general and member of the Latpadaung Investigation Commission Tin Myint arrived at the camp on 16 December and stressed the need for the protesters to vacate the area.

“The Home Affair Ministry’s deputy-director and Investigation Commission member U Tin Myint told the protesters to shut down the camps, but the camps’ committee told him they will remain until the Latpadaung Copper Mining Project is fully suspended,” said a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“We will not let our trees and farmland we’ve cultivated fall into the hands of Wenbao and U-Paing. We will protect them with our lives,” said Aung Myint Thein, who witnessed last month’s crackdown first hand.

There are at least 800 protesters, mostly women, and about 20 monks currently at the two camps.

In the wake of last month’s crackdowns, demonstrations have been held across the country, which prompted officials to deliver an official apology to the affected monks earlier this month.

However, police officers have continued to arrest activists for protesting without permits.

Yesterday, activist Htin Kyaw was charged under Article-18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for staging a solo protest without formal permission in Rangoon following the police’s crackdown on Latpadaung protest camps last month.

Htin Kyaw, who is well known for protesting against rising commodity prices in 2007 prior to mass monk-led demonstrations, said he refused to sign a paper acknowledging the charges that were being pressed against him. The activists said he also plans to travel to Mandalay to hold more solo protests.

 

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