Gold Mine Protesters Escorted Home

By Zarni Mann 27 November 2012

Protesting gold miners from the Moehti Moemi area of Mandalay Division have been sent back to Yamaethin Township after a deal was struck with the authorities.

Around 70 workers started a protest march on Nov. 8 from Yamethin Township to the home of President Thein Sein in the capital Naypyidaw to plead for compensation after their gold mines were closed down.

Protesters had their path blocked by police and were allegedly attacked by around 100 officers and plain-clothed officials during a confrontation in which four miners were arrested on Nov. 23.

“We’ve got agreements that the company and authorities will meet and negotiate with us for compensation on Dec. 3 at Yamaethin Township if we return,” a gold miner told The Irrawaddy. “Now we are being escorted on our way back.”

Meanwhile, arrested worker leaders Ye Yint Htun, Naing Win, Saw Naung and Nay Aung Htet are now facing legal action for threatening the stability of the state and marching without permission. The accused are currently being detained at Taungoo Prison and will face trial on Friday, according to family members.

Tens of thousands of gold miners staged a protest earlier in June after the Myanmar National Prosperity Public Company (MNPPC) asked employees to stop working in the 6,000-acre Moehti Moemi area of Yamethin, which lies 78 km north of Naypyidaw.

Miners accused the MNPPC of reneging on a verbal agreement with around a thousand small mining companies and individual miners in December 2011 which allowed them to excavate gold for the duration of its five-year government contract.

The miners called off their protest after negotiations in mid-June as their demands—to be allowed to continue mining, receive compensation for loss of earnings and investment, gain access to mining machinery and be allowed to continue working on a profit-sharing basis as before—were all granted by the MNPPC.

The protest then arose once again after miners complained that compensation for was not paid to all those affected and the company was breaking the June agreement.