Burmese Protesters Want Justice for Mine Crackdown

RANGOON — Activists in Burma demanded punishment on Thursday for officials who were responsible for the use of incendiary weapons against peaceful protesters at a copper mine, resulting in serious burns for dozens of people including Buddhist monks.

Lawyers and others who investigated the Nov. 29 crackdown at the Letpadaung copper mine in northwestern Burma told reporters that President Thein Sein must share responsibility and ensure justice is achieved.

Speaking at the launch of a report on the incident, they said police used shells containing white phosphorous, an incendiary munition, to disperse the protesters. White phosphorous can be used legally in some battlefield conditions, but activists say it should not be deployed against civilians.

Authorities have acknowledged using tear gas and smoke grenades.

The incident involved the biggest use of force against protesters in Burma since Thein Sein’s reformist government took office in March 2011 after almost five decades of repressive military rule. His administration has been hailed for releasing hundreds of political prisoners and implementing laws allowing public demonstrations and labor strikes.

Protesters say the mine project, a joint venture between China’s Wan Bao mining company—a subsidiary of Norinco, a weapons manufacturer—and the military conglomerate Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd (UMEHL)—a military-owned holding company—causes environmental, social and health problems, and want it halted.

“The use of inherently dangerous military arms to disperse peaceful protesters, apparently by local police during a standard law enforcement procedure, is clearly unlawful and raises issues of liability for those directly involved and for senior responsible levels of command and control in the military and government and for senior executives/military officers at Wan Bao and UMEHL,” the report said.

It was compiled by Lawyers’ Network, an independent association of leading Burmese lawyers, and Justice Trust, an international group engaged in supporting the rule of law and human rights.

Thwe Thwe Win, an activist from a village near the mine, accused its operators of damaging residents’ land and livelihood.

“Everyone including President Thein Sein, the home minister, UMEHL and the Chinese Wan Bao company are responsible for the crackdown,” she said.

She said the villagers will not take further action until an official commission headed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi issues its own report on the project and the crackdown. If it does not call for ending the project, they will resume protesting, she said.

3 Responses to Burmese Protesters Want Justice for Mine Crackdown

  1. I recommended to activist who really love their country, do not imposed to theinsein who like reform . He can not resisted military authority who need briefing every day from Maung eye and thanshwe. You know how the Burmese military do not care about Burmese people except their retention of their position and their status as king family. For them who ever against their 7 step of democracy ( burma way of democracy where higher rank military rule the country and the remain one just enjoy economic development by cheating international communities.)
    During U nu term, Burma was the most developed country in ASEAN countries. After newin coup , 23 Burma revolution council members have a choice 1. open economic and military role and 2. iron closed door to international communities. 12 members leaded by Aung Kyi and his friends who prefer no 1 and 12 members leaded by Tin phe and his friends who prefer no 2. who give reason that if we open economic people will have open eye and hard to rule them. So Newin go with Tin Pee and friends and Aung Kyi and friends got fired. So they build burma way of socialism. They took all wealth from rich people and gave it to the poor. Burma become the poorest country in the world in 1975 and they try to borrow money from international communities and not succeed. So they have took out uniform and frame 1974 constitution and try to act legitimate government sothat they can borrow money and used it for military strength to crush ethic nationalities. Now the military learn that socialism motto did not work for international communities and have changed in to democracy ( Burma way of democracy= borrow money from international communities and use it for military strength which will use it for crushing ethic nationalities and Burmese who do not obey them.) They try to cheat international community by using reformation to democracy. Now look at this demonstration , this people are innocent who try to express their feeling and their opinion and treat like foreign enemies .they did no mind to use white phosphorus equal to biochemical to their fellow citizen ( they do not think as citizen who did not agreed on everything they do). The home affair minister is appointed by president by have to agree by military commander Min Aung Hlaing and approved by Maung Eye. This is approved what we always say about that China hybrid military command control Burma military junta who did not care Burmese people The seven stage democracy (when the majority of Burma were cheated and did not aware of the country was totally control by military) open economic as Aung Kyi and friends dream for but all become slave for Burma military control by Hybrid Chinese military commands. They lucky at this time because China is on the way to democracy dictated by communist party. But China will (no choice)march for democracy and Burma military also may not have much chance in the future. Mr BAMA, give up takhinkodawhmaing philosophy. you are nothing different in the eye of Burma military. Do not be scapegoat .

  2. George Than Setkyar Heine

    “Everyone including President Thein Sein, the home minister, UMEHL and the Chinese Wan Bao company are responsible for the crackdown,” Thwe Thwe Win said.
    TRULY and RIGHTLY said as well!
    That is WHAT MATTERS MOST for EVERY ONE on this EARTH/LIFE I say.
    Everybody is ACCOUNTABLE for his/her ACTIONS in life lest you guys forget.
    Latpadaung Copper Mine CRACKDOWN was UNCALLED for, UNPROVOKED and UNWARRANTED as well in the first place I say.
    Daw Suu was ON HER WAY to the SITE where the Buddhist monks and the people had MADE their CAMP and DEMANDED the joint venture involving the Chinese Wan Bao company and military owned UMEHL to MEDIATE and SETTLE the MATTER PEACEFULLY and IN ORDER as well.
    However, the Buddhist monks and the people at the camp site were FIREBOMBED with INCENDIARY DEVICES on the early dawn of the day (November 29, 2012) by RIOT POLICE while Daw Suu was on her way to settle the matter peacefully and for the better as well.
    Many Buddhist monks and people were BURNT and SUFFERED (second and third degree burns) with some losing their SIGHT as well due to SEVERE BURNS on their torsos and bodies.
    And Daw Suu was given the thankless job of SWEEPING the SHIT under the carpet no less: appointed head of the commission to investigate the crime committed by the riot police at Letpadaung Copper Mine Project of course.
    In the wake of the firebombing of the Buddhist monks and people a high ranking Chinese delegation paid a visit to Thein Sein at Naypyidaw.
    And the REPORT on the Letpadaung Copper Mine fiasco was FORWARDED to Thein Sein before MAKING PUBLIC for the people of course.
    More than a COUPLE of MONTHS until today the REPORT is NOT MADE PUBLIC yet.
    And Daw Suu is UNDER FLAK for that MATTER today.
    This certainly SERVED Than Shwe’s ULTERIOR MOTIVE to DESTROY/UNDERMINE Daw Suu’s CHARACTER, CHARISMA, CREDIBILITY, COURAGE etc. in the eyes of the people of Burma and international community as well of course.
    It is SAFE to SURMISE the POINT: Letpadaung Copper Mine FIASCO was CRAFTED/ENGINEERED/ORCHESTRATED by no less than a figure like Than Shwe in the first place with a SPECIFIC VIEW to DESTROY Daw Suu’s CHARACTER, CHARISMA and POTENTIAL amongst others in the eyes of her beloved people of Burma and the global community at large as well no doubt.
    In case the REPORT failed to CITE or OBLIGE with the people’s demand for
    – CLOSURE of the Copper Mine Project.
    – ACTION on the HOME MINISTER most responsible for the firebombing and
    – COMPENSATE the AGGRIEVED PARTIES related to the firebombing least of all
    Daw Suu’s LUSTER, POPULARITY, CHARACTER, CHARISMA, CREDIBILITY and POTENTIAL would GREATLY SUFFER among her people on whom Daw Suu OWES her STATURE and POSITION today no doubt.

  3. Why not? Cracking down peaceful protest violently is absolutely undemocratic. The government should not use this method in the first place. And it must not use in the future. This scar will remain to both the protesters and the government. It hurts more to the government. The government must do to reconcile with the best way to heal all the wounds, mentally and physically.

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