One dead, 20 hurt in protests against copper mine in Myanmar
A woman was killed and over 20 protestors injured on Monday in clashes with police over a copper mine in Myanmar after a Chinese company announced it would resume construction at the site.
According to activists and opposition lawmaker Khin San Hlaing, the confrontation at the proposed Letpadaung copper mine, owned by Wanbao Mining Ltd, happened as police and Chinese workers raised a fence on land that the villagers claimed as theirs, Reuters reports.
The massive copper project has faced local opposition since its beginning, drawing international attention in 2012 when police forcefully dispersed protesters, injuring more than 100 Buddhist monks.
The brutal crackdown halted construction at the mine, just outside the town of Monywa in central Myanmar.
Since then, the company has tried to revive its image by visiting villages neighbouring the mine to show them the project’s benefits. Villagers, Wanbao Mining says, will be given jobs and compensated fairly for their land.
The Chinese miner has also vowed to invest $1 million a year in villages around the site to promote projects such as schools and a mobile clinic.
But villagers argue that thousands of hectares of farmland have been seized to allow the mine’s expansion and that the deal, approved when Myanmar was still under military dictatorship, lacked transparency.
They also worry about the mine’s environmental impacts. Last month, Amnesty International backed up those concerns, saying construction at the mine should be halted until an independent environmental and social assessment is carried out.