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Report confirms police brutality at copper mine protests

Suu Kyi-led probe says mine should stay open despite faults

The mine in Monywa has prompted sustained protests (AFP photo/Soe Than Win) The mine in Monywa has prompted sustained protests (AFP photo/Soe Than Win)
  • Daniel Wynn, Yangon
  • Myanmar
  • March 12, 2013
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A long-awaited parliamentary report led by Aung San Suu Kyi said on Tuesday that a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine should remain open despite “slight” benefits for Myanmar, as the probe confirmed police used phosphorous against protestors there last year.

Following injuries sustained by 108 people during rallies opposing the mine, it recommended overseas anti-riot training rather than holding police accountable.

The report backed claims by local residents that they had not been properly compensated when their land was confiscated and recommended they receive the market value.

The probe also said Wanbao of China and its domestic partner, a commercial vehicle owned by the army, had failed to conduct environmental and social impact assessments meaning the mine had polluted the surrounding area.

It recommended these problems could be solved if the mine operators initiated the necessary safeguards, noting that cancellation of the project would hurt relations with China.

Residents and protesters, who have recently returned to the mine site in Monywa, northwest of Mandalay, said the outcomes of the report were a disappointment.

“This report does not reveal the locals’ voices and attitudes towards the project. We will continue to demand the cancellation of the project,” said U Thu, a Buddhist monk in Monywa who led protests in November.

Suu Kyi, who is due to visit the mine site on Wednesday, according to media reports, led the parliamentary investigation team which submitted findings to President Thein Sein on Monday.

U Thu indicated he was frustrated by the opposition leader’s findings, adding that Monywa protesters were “seriously doubtful of the individuals” involved.

Suu Kyi responded by saying that those displeased with the commission’s recommendations should act in accordance with the law, according to Myanmar media reports on Tuesday. 

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