Several Injured During Land Dispute at a Gold Mine in Central Burma

By Zarni Mann 8 July 2015

A land dispute at the site of a gold mine in Yay Htwat village in Mandalay Division’s Thabeikkyin Township turned violent on Monday, leaving small-scale miners and police injured, including a 50-year-old man who was allegedly shot in the knee, according to local eyewitnesses.

Small-scale miners faced off with police who had come to intervene in a dispute over land between the miners and the firm behind a gold mining project in the village area, Myanmar Sithu Company.

“Police arrived and the local miners became more angry and slingshots and stones were used. Later police opened fire to disperse the crowd and Chit Thae was shot in the knee,” said Kyaw Win, a local witness.

In total, around 20 local miners and eight police were injured in the clash, locals said. Chit Thae was admitted to Mandalay General Hospital while at least three policemen and six protesters were admitted to hospital in Thabeikkyin with minor injuries.

Police are investigating the matter, a local officer told The Irrawaddy, and Myanmar Sithu Company plans to open a case at the Thabeikkyin police station.

“We haven’t detained anyone yet, but have to deploy heavy security in the area to restore the situation back to normal. The case is under investigation and the company is planning to file a case at our station,” said the duty officer of Thabeikkyin police station.

During the clash, three trucks and two cars were smashed while nearly a dozen motorbikes belonging to police and local officials, as well as an office building belonging to Myanmar Sithu Company, were set on fire, according to the police officer.

The mining firm could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Thabeikkyin Township, located over 90 km north of Mandalay, is home to some of the country’s largest gold mines.

Disputes between small-scale miners and mining companies have arisen in the past when firms prevented local miners from working in certain areas.

Earlier this year, when Myanmar Sithu began the gold mining project in Thabeikkyin Township, locals from Yay Htwat complained that the project encompassed an area where independent local miners often searched for gold.

In May, locals staged a protest in the area and urged divisional authorities and the company to abandon the project in their village.