Despite local opposition, the Karen National Union has deployed its staff to secure the area in Dawei Township, Taninthayi Region, where the Banchaung mining project is located, according to locals.

On November 15, ethnic Kayin locals from Thabyuchaung, Kyaukhtoo, Kahtaungni and Kunchaungyi attempted to block the roads – Kunchaungyi Amara Road and Dawei-Myeik Union Road – which are used as transportation routes for the project.

“Locals do not approve of the project at all. They voiced their objections at the company’s meeting last month. Nonetheless, the company keeps going. Therefore, the locals blocked two roads that link the project to surrounding towns. However, KNU soldiers cleared the path that leads to Thailand for coal transport. The KNU continues to provide security for the project,” said Naw Pi Tha Law, a member of a group working for the social welfare for Kayin people.

“The KNU was established to defend ethnic Kayin people, and now Kayin people are protesting this mining project to protect their own interest. It is questionable why the KNU is not protecting its own people. We are sorry to see where KNU is standing. It would be worth knowing whether the KNU receives any benefits from the project,” Naw Pi Tha Law continued.

Last month, Myat Ko, the chief minister of Kayin State, said in a meeting concerning mining project that the government will remove the mining block located close to Kahtaungni village. The rest of the project, he said, is under the control of the KNU.

The mining project is a joint venture between Thailand’s East Star Company and local company May Flower Mining Enterprises.

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