A confrontation between protestors and police left two villagers injured near the Latpadaung copper mine project in Sagaing Division on Saturday.
One villager was injured by rubber bullets while another was injured by a slingshot after protests broke out on Laikkhun Hill. Police were attempting to fence-off the land when they were confronted by locals who have refused compensation as part of government land seizures.
One villager, Paw Htay from Moegyopyin, was hit by a rubber bullet during the protest. “There was a loud noise and about 14 shots were fired. I was hit on the hip. I felt like I was burned with hot water, very sore. Now I’ve had an injection and feel better,” he told DVB.
Naung Naung, who was administering medical treatment to the villagers, said the wound looked like it had been caused by a rubber bullet. “The [rubber] bullet scratched and burned the skin,” he said.
District administrator of Sarlingyi, Zaw Myo Nyunt, refuted the claim that police had fired rubber bullets into the crowd. He said the protestors began firing stones from slingshots at the police, and to protect themselves the police returned fire with slingshots of their own.
The Latpadaung copper mine project has seen continued criticism, both locally and internationally. Last month Amnesty International called for work on the mine to be halted “until a thorough environmental and social impact assessment has been carried out, which genuinely consults all the people affected.”
Thousands of local residents continue to face forced eviction and risks of pollution due to the construction of the Chinese copper mine. Campaigners say more than 7,800 acres of land has been confiscated from 26 villages across the nearby mountain range, which has caused violent clashes with police and protestors in the area.
Latest reports indicate that villagers were still gathering in front of the police post at Laikkhun hill.