More than 50 people were arrested on Wednesday in an early morning police raid of a camp in Yamethin, Mandalay Division, where miners and their families have sought shelter in a monastery since being evicted from the nearby Moehti Moemi gold mine.
Occupants were repeatedly warned of eviction by authorities, who issued a 28 February deadline to exit the monastery, located on Yamethin’s Shwemyintin hill.
Over 100 policemen raided the camp under the pretext of security for a Buddhist festival at a nearby pagoda. Once on site, police detained over 50 people including children and senior citizens, according to the head abbot, who told DVB that those detained were taken to Yamethin jail, and that he witnessed no violence or confrontation.
The Moehti Moemi miners have been protesting against the Myanmar National Prosperity Company Limited (NPPCL) since the private company reneged on a five-year agreement for a joint-venture with local operators. NPPCL later ordered them to evacuate the site, as the company changed course to court bigger firms.
In late 2013 the miners-turned-settlers began negotiations with police, but demonstrations resumed when authorities refused to concede a new substitute digging site.
Last week, leaders of the Moehti Moemi demonstrations took to Rangoon’s City Hall to raise nationwide awareness about the problems facing small scale miners in central Burma, who in a recent trend are losing ground to large and international operators.