RANGOON — Protests were held across Rangoon on Thursday after a 56-year-old woman was fatally shot by police near the Chinese-backed Letpadaung copper mining project in central Burma earlier this week.
“We are here to show that we are against the actions taken by the government on December 22nd and 23rd in Letpadaung,” said demonstrator Kyaw Ko Ko, a member of the All Burma Federation of Students’ Unions (ABFSU).
More than 200 people joined a peaceful procession from the Hledan overpass to Inya Lake, ending with a waterside candlelight vigil. Some carried placards reading “Stop violence against people,” “No violent action on Letpadaung” and “Down with dictatorship.”
The demonstration was part of a “Black Campaign” organized by ABFSU, which calls on citizens to wear black clothing to show their grief. A series of related events have taken place since police clashed with villagers near the controversial development on Monday, when authorities ordered a group of roughly 60 villagers to disperse when they attempted to prevent contractors from building a fence around disputed property.
One woman was killed and several others injured when police fired at the villagers, who refused to move and fired slingshots at the officers.
Three people were injured by rubber bullets fired by policemen when clashes resumed on Tuesday morning. Several demonstrations have since been held to show opposition to both the mining project and the behavior of security personnel.
On Thursday afternoon, nearly two dozen activists marched to the Chinese Embassy in Rangoon with posters demanding “An immediate halt” to the development, which is jointly operated by the government-owned Union Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH) and Chinese firm Wanbao.
In another act of protest, a lone masked figure marched through Rangoon’s Chinatown neighborhood on Wednesday holding a tombstone-like tablet bearing the names of the two companies, then burned it along with a Chinese flag.