Activist Calls for ‘Total Shutdown’ of Letpadaung Mine

Poet Ant Maung speaks at the “Letpadaung as an Artwork” exhibition in Rangoon on Feb. 19, 2013. (Photo: Sithu / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — A leading activist lobbying for the cancellation of a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine in Upper Burma said “a total shutdown” of the project would be in the best interests of all parties involved, including the Burmese government, local people and the Chinese government.

During the opening ceremony of “Letpadaung as an Artwork,” an art and photo exhibition on the Letpadaung mountain range near Monywa in Sagaing Division, where the mining project is situated, Ant Maung, the poet and patron of the Committee for Protecting Letpadaung Mountain, said a complete closure of the project is the ultimate goal of local people.

The veteran poet warned that continuation of the project could damage the government’s ongoing efforts to improve its image among the country’s people, and as well as harm Sino-Burmese relations.

“The government says it always listens to people’s voices. If the government lets the project go ahead, they ruin its ‘people-centered government’ image,” he said.

“At the same time, there will be mounting anti-Chinese sentiment among the Burmese, because the mining company is a Chinese-backed one. So China has little to gain from the project, and a lot to lose,” he added.

The mine is a joint venture between China’s Wan Bao mining company—a subsidiary of Norinco, a weapons manufacturer—and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, a Burmese military-owned conglomerate.

The project has come under heavy criticism since last year, especially after the government’s crackdown on protesters demanding its closure, citing environmental destruction, forced relocation and illegal land confiscation.

A pre-dawn raid on a protest camp on Nov. 29 left more than 100 people injured, including Buddhist monks who suffered severe burns caused by the government’s use of incendiary devices.

The resulting outcry led to the formation of a government commission led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which will investigate whether the project should go ahead. The findings of the commission have not yet been released.

“I hope the commission says no to continuing the project, because that’s what the people want,” said Myo Thant of the 88 Generation Students group, who is actively involved in the Letpadaung campaign.

“That doesn’t mean we are saying no to foreign investment, but we only want investment that takes the interests of local residents into consideration,” he added.

For Ant Maung, a total shutdown is the only solution.

“Even people who have different political views from us want the cancellation of the project,” said the poet.

“A complete closure will not only be good for the people, but also for the government. For China, it can surely maintain our long-time relationship, too. If the project goes ahead, there will be a huge loss for all of us. So, let the government choose.”


4 Responses to Activist Calls for ‘Total Shutdown’ of Letpadaung Mine

  1. Yes. Letpadaung Mine should be shutdown completely. This project does not benefit much to people of Myanmar. Instead only a group of cronies will benefit. All the people of Myanmar must keep pressuring the authority to make the complete shutdown.

  2. I agree. This copper mine, like the dams, the jade mine, the gas/oil pipeline, is a legacy of Burma’s corrupt and shameful recent history. If Thein Sein and Suu Kyi want to move forward, they have to suspend or at least renegotiate all these deals and MoU’s that the military junta had to sign under Chinese pressure. All these improper and unlawful deals with the Chinese should be carefully re-examined to determine exactly who is profiting from it. Any mega-project built in Burma should be to the country’s benefit. Why should we let the greedy Chinese rip us off, especially if it destroys the environment and the livelihood of the poor rural farmers? Are we that stupid? Burma is a sovereign country and half-Chinese like Aung Min shouldn’t be too scared of their Chinese sugar daddies. Enough is enough!

  3. Greed and selfishness ruin our society. The generals have already deposited tons of money in their accounts. They already live in mansions with gold and silver. They better stop their ugly way of cheating and stealing our resources. They are shameless indeed. Letpadaung copper mine project must stop immediately.

  4. George Than Setkyar Heine

    First and foremost, Thein Sein and his gang should HEED the ACTIVIST’S warning “continuation of the project could damage the government’s ongoing efforts to improve its image among the country’s people, and as well as harm Sino-Burmese relations”.
    Secondly, “At the same time, there will be mounting anti-Chinese sentiment among the Burmese, because the mining company is a Chinese-backed one. So China has little to gain from the project, and a lot to lose,” he added.
    Anti-CHINESE sentiment among the Burmese could/would translate into CERTAIN DEATH/DOOM for ethnic CHINESE PRESENCE in the country as evidenced in 1967 not to mention CHINESE PROJECTS and INTERESTS in Burma DERAILED/DESTROYED least of all.
    Thirdly and no less important as well is Myo Thant’s, “I hope the commission says no to continuing the project, because that’s what the people want,” and “That doesn’t mean we are saying no to foreign investment, but we only want investment that takes the interests of local residents into consideration,” he added.
    Of course Ant Maung’s “total shutdown is the only solution” coupled with “Even people who have different political views from us want the cancellation of the project,” and
    “A complete closure will not only be good for the people, but also for the government. For China, it can surely maintain our long-time relationship, too. If the project goes ahead, there will be a huge loss for all of us. So, let the government choose.” finally HAND DOWN the VERDICT (right and relevant no less as well) on the DOOMED and ILL-FATED joint venture of the Chinese communists’ and Than Shwe led military owned UMEHL ultimately.
    Hence, the BALL IS IN Than Shwe/Thein Sein’s COURT of course as well.
    The REST IS HISTORY in the MAKING folks!
    LET’S SEE WHO STANDS TALL – the PEOPLE or Than Shwe/Thein Sein – and STAYS
    after the SMOKE CLEARS at the END of the DAY of course.

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