Jade Miner Shot Dead in Hpakant Clash

By Zarni Mann 20 November 2018

MANDALAY — Clashes between freelance jade prospectors and security personnel of a jade mining company resulted in the death of one on Monday in the jade mining area of Hpakant in Kachin State.

According to witnesses, security personnel from Jade Leaf Mining Company, located near the village of Namt Hmaw in the Seik Mu area, opened fire into a crowd of prospectors who had gathered outside the site entrance waiting to enter the mine and search for jade residue.

“The prospectors apparently tried to enter the company premises before the permitted time and had a confrontation with security there who then opened fire and killed one,” said U La Nan, a local miner who was present at the site of the incident.

Hpakant police confirmed the death of Ko Aye Than, 25, a prospector from Pauk Taw Township of Rakhine State, during the clash on Monday.

“Ko Aye Than was shot on his right chest and died on the spot. A Mitsubishi Pajero, a car garage and a two-story building were burned down. We are still investigating the cause and the cost of the burnt property. We will take legal action against those who incited the clash,” said the duty officer of Hpakant Police Station.

In Hpakant’s jade mining region, deadly clashes between security officers from mining companies and prospectors are very common. Clashes usually break out when the two parties argue about entry to the jade mining company premises which prospectors often seek before the permitted time, sometimes resulting in injury, or even the death, of the jade prospectors.

At the end of October this year, at least six prospectors were injured when mine security personnel opened fire into a crowd gathered near Sun World jade mining company in Saijabom Village in Hpakant.

On Nov. 14, two prospectors died while trying to enter the mine site of jade mining company Jewelry Star, located in the Waikhar area of Hpakant, without permission and were shot by security.

“If there are strict laws for both the prospectors and the jade mining companies, and if all of them follow the rules, there will be no such sad incidents. The security persons also need to find another way to stop the prospectors rather than opening fire easily,” said U La Nan, the local miner.

“Our jade mining region has experienced many sad incidents. We want rule of law in our region desperately,” he added.