Police Reject Lawsuit Against Burma’s Home Affairs Minister

By The Associated Press 24 March 2015

RANGOON — Police in northwestern Burma have rejected a lawsuit filed by two Buddhist monks against the country’s home minister and police chief, saying they are protected by law.

In declining to accept a first information report, which is needed for a lawsuit to proceed, the police said no lawsuit can be brought against any officer who carries out acts in good faith.

Human rights lawyer Aung Thein said Tuesday that the two Buddhist monks, among scores seriously burned during a 2012 police crackdown on protests at a Chinese-backed copper mine, registered the first information report at the Salingyi police station.

Aung Thein, who works with Justice Trust, said a letter was also sent to President Thein Sein asking that the lawsuit to be opened against government ministers.

He said the purpose of the lawsuit was “to fight for justice and to highlight human rights violations and the lack of rule of law in Myanmar.”

More than 100 monks suffered serious burns from smoke bombs that reportedly contained white phosphorous when police dispersed the protesters at the Letpadaung copper mine in northwestern Burma.

The protest in November 2012 drew international attention. Authorities say police used only tear gas and smoke grenades.

This past December, a villager was shot dead during a confrontation as police and Chinese workers erected a fence on land that villagers say is theirs.

The Letpadaung mine is a joint venture between a Burma Army-controlled holding company and China’s Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd., a unit of weapons manufacturer China North Industries Corp. Villagers say the mine causes environmental, social and health problems, and want it closed.