Activist Thaw Zin was arrested on Tuesday morning in Salingyi Township, one of the many towns impacted by the Latpadaung copper mine project.
Thaw Zin was arrested by plain-clothed police, according to Pol. Superintendent My Nyunt Oo, who told DVB that plain-clothed officers are patrolling the area because “locals tend to get hostile when they see uniforms”.
My Nyunt Oo confirmed that Thaw Zin’s charge related to two separate past incidents involving confrontations between locals and staff of the Wanbao Company, which is the Chinese firm involved in a joint venture at the mine.
The activist had previously been detained on charges under Article 18 (the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law), for organising protests without official permission. The charge was dropped under a presidential amnesty announced at the end of last year.
“We have two criminal charges outstanding against Thaw Zin, on top of the annulled Article-18 charge. He has been arrested this morning,” said the police official, who could not confirm where he was being detained.
Local villagers in Salingyi have vowed to stage a protest in front of the township’s police station to demand the activist be released.
“Activist Thaw Zin was arrested this morning when he went out of the village. We are now gathering people in front of the police station to demand his release,” said Amar Cho, a resident from Tonywa village.
She said residents from around 10 villages in Salingyi were gathering for a protest on Tuesday afternoon.
Last week police briefly detained several people from nearby Wet Hmay village after they had blocked the path of Wanbao company staff laying barbwire fences across farmland.