Memorial Held for Slain Letpadaung Protester in Sagaing

By The Irrawaddy 23 December 2015

RANGOON — The first anniversary of the death of Khin Win, a woman shot down by police while protesting a land seizure near the Letpadaung copper mine, was commemorated by the victim’s family on Wednesday.

On Dec 22 last year, Khin Win joined around 60 other residents of Sagaing Division’s Moe Gyo Pyin village who were attempting to obstruct contractors fencing off farmlands on behalf of Chinese company Wanbao.

Police opened fire after villagers threw stones and fired slingshots at the authorities. Khin Win, 56, was struck in the head and died at the scene. Locals said that at least 10 other villagers were injured during the fateful confrontation.

Win Khaing, the deceased’s daughter, told the Irrawaddy that over 100 people attended Wednesday’s memorial at Moe Gyo Pyin. She added that the criminal investigation into the circumstances around Khin Win’s death had stalled since her family filed the case at the Salingyi Township police station.

“They confirmed my mother was shot dead by a bullet. But there is still no justice for her as we haven’t got any response from the court,” she said. “We will keep pushing for justice when the new government comes to power.”

The Salingyi police station unavailable for comment on Wednesday morning.

The Letpadaung copper mine is a joint venture between China’s Wanbao mining company—itself a subsidiary of weapons manufacturer Norinco—and Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, a conglomerate owned by the Burmese.

Khin Win’s death triggered riotous protests outside the Chinese Embassy in Rangoon last December. Several participants were subsequently jailed on unlawful assembly and incitement charges.

The Letpadaung project, based primarily in the Sagaing township of Monywa, has been no stranger to controversy. In November 2012, during an early morning raid, police fired on protesters using white phosphorous rounds, the use of which against civilians is prohibited under international law. Most of the more than 100 people injured in the assault were Buddhist monks protesting the encroachment of the project on a nearby monastery.