Fri 18 Oct 2013
Filed under: Business / Trade,Human Rights,Inside Burma,News
Residents of Sar Lin Gyi Township, Sagaing Division, are still fighting against the appropriation and fencing of their lands by the Latpadaung copper mine project. They are demanding compensation for the lands that have been taken from them and will not stop until they get what they say they deserve.
Over the past two and a half weeks, protestors have staged four major demonstrations and three smaller rallies. An average of one hundred and fifty people have been present at each event.
Ko Pyay Nyein, whose sixteen acres of land have been seized, said that tensions between security police and protestors peaked on 17 October.
“The [mine’s] security force was three hundred strong, but we kept protesting because they kept fencing. They fenced from Shwe Zar Li Hill to Myay Ni Hill,” said Ko Pyay Nyein.
He added that residents from thirteen other villages have joined the demonstrations.
U Pwar, a participant in Thursday’s rally, said that security forces began to retaliate against the activists.
“They shot us with slingshots when we went to pull the barbed wire. We tried to remove the fence but couldn’t do it,” he lamented.
“Over twenty acres of my lands were taken,” U Pwar continued.“Five of them are now fenced. We want them to remove the fences. I have lost three acres of sesame and ten acres of pigeon peas.”
Daw Khin San Hlaing, a MP from the Pyithu Hluttaw, evaluated the situation in Latpadaung. She agreed that residents whose land has been taken should be offered compensation and that, more importantly, their land should not have been fenced in the first place.
“[Companies and projects] should always listen to the voices of the residents [whose land they are working on],” she said.“[Wanbao Mining, the company in charge of the mining project] should remove the fences they made and stop guarding the land.”
On 15 October, the Latpadaung copper mine project investigation commission announced its report on the many sufferings that the project has inflicted on its development area.
Daw Khin San Hlaing sent a formal letter to U Hla Tun, chairman of the Latpadaung mining project implementation committee, with her own concerns about the project.
In 2012, monks and local villagers staged another large-scale protest against the mine. Authorities cracked down on the demonstration and dozens were injured.