Thursday, October 11, 2012

Both sides file suits in mine protest

Thursday, 11 October 2012 12:29 Mizzima News

Over 1,000 villagers staged a symbolic demonstration on Tuesday at a graveyard to dramatize their struggle against a Chinese co-owned mine in the Letpadaung mountain range near Sagaing Division's Monywa city.

The villagers are protesting their displacement from land following months of confrontations with the company and the authorities.

A symbolic demonstration in a graveyard on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.  Photo: Aung Nay Myo / facebook

“We went there and cried. We cried for the land lost, for the disappearance of the Letpadaung mountains,” Phyu Phyu Win, one of the protest leaders, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report on its website published on Thursday.

Phyu Phyu Win was among 12 activists detained last month at protests over the mine, which is being developed by Wan Bao Co.—a subsidiary of state-owned Chinese arms manufacturer North China Industries Corp. (Norinco)— and Burma’s army-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holding.

Villagers said that the mine developers have illegally confiscated more than 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) of farmland from 26 villages since 2011, and said they fear pollution in the area.

With growing support from groups around the country, villagers have sought adequate compensation, the return of confiscated land, a stop to forced relocations, and an end to the dumping of waste on their fields, said RFA.

Local villagers filed a lawsuit this week at Sarlingyi Township suing Wan Bao and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holding.

Mine officials filed a defamation lawsuit last week against 16 activists for their role in the protests.

He said villagers were angry about the destruction of the land in the mine area.

“The company bulldozed palm trees and farmland, and now they are building a road here and dumping waste on the land. We villagers think this is not fair. As long as they keep destroying our land, we will keep doing what we are doing,” said one protestor.

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