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Latpadaung villagers tear down Wanbao fence

Around 100 local villagers on Monday tore down a fence erected by the Myanmar Wanbao copper mining company around a disputed patch of land north of Sete village near the Latpadaung mine site.

The villagers have set up a rally camp at the spot and are demanding the return of farmland they maintain was seized for the project.

On Tuesday morning, local authorities warned the protestors about interfering with the mesh and barbwire fence and advised them to disperse.

“Around 100 farmers are holding a sit-in at the rally camp, and authorities this morning warned us via loudspeakers that a curfew had been imposed and that villagers must stop destroying the fence and disturbing the project,” said Sanda Thiri, a Buddhist monk from nearby Zeetaw village.

He told DVB on Tuesday that about 300 riot police have been deployed at the scene and that a tense standoff has ensued.

Meanwhile, Chinese state-backed Myanmar Wanbao on Tuesday issued a further statement, reiterating its right to continue the mining project and stating that it has followed all the recommendations issued by the Latpadaung investigation commission.


Hundreds of local villagers and their supporters have been protesting the Latpadaung copper mine since its inception more than 10 years ago. Many have been displaced to make way for the project which was originally contracted to a Canadian firm, Ivanhoe Mines.

The controversial mine was temporarily suspended when activists and monks staged a mass sit-in protest in 2012. The protest was broken up brutally by riot police on 29 November that year when some 80 protestors were injured, including several Buddhist monks, many with horrific burns that experts have attributed to white phosphorous bombs.

A subsequent investigation headed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to pronounce anyone guilty for the violent crackdown, and to many villagers’ dismay, recommended to the government that the project be resumed.



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