Workers and small-time operators from central Burma’s Moehti Moemi gold mine staged a demonstration in front of the High Court in Rangoon on Wednesday, calling for the government to mediate their dispute with the National Prosperity Public Company Limited (NPPCL).
The miners have been camping in a Buddhist monastery compound in Mandalay Division’s Yamethin, after they were kicked out of the mine compound. But local authorities have ordered the miners to move out of the monastery by 28 February or face forceful eviction.
“We sent letters to authorities pleading to allow us to stay at the temple and promising to do chores,” said a miner at the protest.
The protesters also denounced a report in the state-run Burmese-language newspaper Kyemon (The Mirror) that claimed 54 small time operators had been paid compensation by the NPPCL totalling 308 million Kyat (US $313,400).
They said the report was erroneous and insisted they hadn’t received any money from the company.
“This is not the case, none of us are yet to receive a penny,” said one miner.
Miners at Moehti Moemi have been staging protests since June 2012, when mining conglomerate, NPPCL, was awarded a tender license to operate at the mine and small-time operations were shut down.
Since then, negotiations between the miners and the company have failed to yield any tangible results.
The miners sought permission to protest under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, however Rangoon authorities denied their request.
“We are not protesting but only expressing our will,” protestor Myo Min said. “We have reached out to various government departments regarding our issues but they are yet to help mediate the situation and so we are gathering here.”