Suu Kyi Blames Govt Inaction for Letpadaung Killing

By Thu Zar 29 December 2014

RANGOON — National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi has pointed the finger at the administration of President Thein Sein for a recent fatal shooting at the Letpadaung copper mine in central Burma.

In response to questions from reporters, the opposition leader said last week that the government was responsible for rising tensions at the China-backed copper mine, as she attended the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Kawhmu Township, the constituency that she represents in Parliament.

“We have provided ample recommendations,” Suu Kyi said on Friday. “They [the administration] have to implement their fair share. If they want [me] to do it all, then hand over administrative power [to me] so that [I] can do everything.”

The mining project in Sagaing Division—a joint venture between China’s Wanbao and the Burmese military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd (UMEHL)—was suspended in November 2012 after a brutal police crackdown on protesters that saw scores, including monks, injured.

Following the incident, operations at the mine were suspended and a commission was formed to investigate the project. Suu Kyi was assigned to chair the commission, which filed a report in early 2013 with a list of conditions that it recommended be met before resuming the project. The controversial venture resumed operations in October 2013.

Suu Kyi added that a committee that was formed by the government to implement her report’s recommendations had failed to act.

“The committee did carry out some recommendations, but it has not fully implemented the recommendations. It has not followed the recommendations to the letter,” she said.

Wanbao has taken steps to placate residents affected by the project, including redrawing its contract to allocate 2 percent of profits for corporate social responsibility projects and $2 million annually toward environmental protection. Local opposition has lingered, however.

On Dec. 22, Wanbao began fencing in disputed land, leading to clashes between police and locals that resulted in the death of 56-year-old Khin Win. Several others involved in the protest were also injured.