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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.