News / Asia

Burma Recommends Controversial Mine Continue

Trucks are seen at a copper mine in Sarlingyi township, Burma, Dec. 14, 2012.
Trucks are seen at a copper mine in Sarlingyi township, Burma, Dec. 14, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
Burma has recommended a controversial China-backed copper mine continue, despite objections from protesting villagers.  An official investigation, led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, concludes the project would benefit the nation as long as some recommendations are met.  

In a 74-page report, the investigation commission acknowledges Burma's Letpadaung copper mine failed to meet international environmental and social impact standards or adequately compensate villagers for lost land.

The report also acknowledges that police used smoke bombs containing phosphorous against protesters opposed to the project, severely burning more than 100 people, despite earlier denials by authorities.

However, rather than recommending the project end or be suspended, the report gives suggestions for meeting international standards.

x
It says stopping the China-backed project, as protesters have demanded, would discourage future foreign investment.

President Thein Sein appointed the commission and it was chaired by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut says, once the report's suggestions are followed, the mine will benefit not only the state but also the local population.

"Suggestions in every sector.  Law and rule of law and environmental and also the social impact and creating the job opportunity for the local people.  And, to review some parts of the current agreement between the Myanmar and Chinese company," said Ye Htut.

The mine, the largest of its kind in Burma, is jointly run by Burma and China military-connected companies under a deal that dates to the previous military government. 

Burmese protesters at a Chinese-backed copper mine, Monywa Burma, November 22, 2012. (VOA Burmese Service)Burmese protesters at a Chinese-backed copper mine, Monywa Burma, November 22, 2012. (VOA Burmese Service)
x
Burmese protesters at a Chinese-backed copper mine, Monywa Burma, November 22, 2012. (VOA Burmese Service)
Burmese protesters at a Chinese-backed copper mine, Monywa Burma, November 22, 2012. (VOA Burmese Service)
Last year's villager-led demonstration against expanding the mine was broken up violently by police.   More than 100 protesters, including monks, were severely injured, with signs of chemical burns.

An independent Burma lawyers network and rights group say police used white phosphorous grenades as a chemical weapon to scare off opponents of the project.

The incendiary agent is used to create smoke screens, but can cause severe burns and fire if used against people or near flammable objects.

Burma authorities initially denied using the chemical.  But, the report acknowledges smoke bombs did contain phosphorous. It blames a lack of police training for causing the protesters injuries.

The head of the legal committee for the Upper Burma Lawyers Network, Thein Than Oo says the report does not adequately address the issue of responsibility.

"The main facts they omit is who commit the crime to the peaceful demonstrator[s] with white phosphorous smoke bomb[s].  And, how to deal with this crime?  They don't mention it," said Thein Than Oo,

Aung San Suu Kyi's role unclear

Despite Aung San Suu Kyi's heading the investigation, Thein Than Oo does not blame the democracy icon for what he says is an unsatisfactory report.  He says her influence was limited because many commission members were loyal to the government.

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her speech at the National League for Democracy party's congress March 10, 2013.Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her speech at the National League for Democracy party's congress March 10, 2013.
x
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her speech at the National League for Democracy party's congress March 10, 2013.
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi delivers her speech at the National League for Democracy party's congress March 10, 2013.
It is not clear how much of the final report was approved by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Her spokesman, Nyan Win, was not immediately available by phone to comment.

Villagers complain mine pollution poisoned nearby water supplies and that they received inadequate compensation for land used for the project.

Ye Htut says the report acknowledges payments for villagers' land was poorly handled.

"Some of the process to giving the compensation is not transparent enough.  And, some are given by the value under the current… lower than current value.  And, so they have to review on that process.  And, also… the company should be reclaiming the other land for... to substitute the land lost by the local people," said Ye Htut.

President Thein Sein has appointed a new commission to implement the report's recommendations.

But Thein Than Oo says that commission, made up of ministers and company representatives, is far from independent and should include activists, villagers and other stakeholders.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid