News / Asia

Burma's Suu Kyi Offers to Mediate Mine Dispute

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits Buddhist monks, wounded in a police crackdown on activists fighting a Chinese copper mine project, at a hospital in Monywa, Nov. 29, 2012.
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits Buddhist monks, wounded in a police crackdown on activists fighting a Chinese copper mine project, at a hospital in Monywa, Nov. 29, 2012.
VOA News
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has offered to mediate a dispute involving villagers and monks opposed to the expansion of a Chinese-backed copper mine in the country's northwest.

She made the offer Thursday as she visited the mine, hours after police used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs to drive away hundreds of anti-mine protesters who had occupied the area for 11 days.

A monk who joined the protesters in the town of Monywa said in an interview with VOA that at least 20 other monks suffered burns during the police operation and had to be hospitalized.  Witnesses said the burns resulted from devices fired by security personnel as they raided several protest camps around 3:00 a.m. local time.

Buddhist monks are treated at a hospital in Monywa after a police crackdown on protesters at a controversial copper mine, Nov. 29, 2012.
Buddhist monks are treated at a hospital in Monywa after a police crackdown on protesters at a controversial copper mine, Nov. 29, 2012.

Burmese President Thein Sein's office initially denied police used excessive force or dangerous chemicals in the operation, but a spokesman said the president ordered the statement to be retracted after several hours.  

The evicted protesters were among hundreds who had defied a government order to end the occupation-style protest.  Protesting villagers and monks say planned mine expansion threatens their environment. They also accuse authorities of unlawfully seizing land for the $1 billion project.

Speaking to thousands of villagers near the copper mine later in the day, Aung San Suu Kyi said she met with the mine's operators and wants to speak to the protest leaders as well.

"I wish to find a peaceful resolution to the problem we are facing today at this copper mine project," she said. "It should be solved in the best interests of our people, by protecting our country's dignity and our future. I will try my best  to achieve this. Although I cannot guarantee whether I will succeed or not, I believe that if the people work together with me, we can succeed."

In her speech, the Nobel Peace Prize winner made no criticism of the security crackdown. She later went to a nearby hospital where many of the injured were being treated.

Burma's government says mine operations were suspended November 18 because of the protest. It says canceling the project would discourage much-needed foreign investment.

The mine is a joint venture between a Chinese arms manufacturer and a business controlled by the Burmese military.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei defended the planned mine expansion in his Thursday briefing.

"The relocation, compensation, environmental protection and other issues involved with this project were jointly settled through negotiations by the Chinese and Myanmar sides and meet Myanmar's laws and regulations," Hong said. "We hope all levels of Myanmar society can provide an environment beneficial to the project's development."

China's Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper warned that a suspension of the joint venture will be a "lose-lose situation" for China and Burma.  It accused "some Westerners and NGOs" of instigating the protests.

In an interview with VOA, Human Rights Watch Burma researcher Matthew Smith called those claims "baseless."  He said villagers had legitimate concerns about the project even before it was associated with the Chinese company.

"If you really look on the ground, people have suffered, people are losing their livelihoods, they are losing their land that not only they call home, but has been called home to their ancestors for a very long time," Smith said. "So taken together, all of these issues are really underpinning it. I don't think this is some intricate plot by Western governments and non-governmental organizations."

Smith added there is an "urgent need for authorities to proceed in a way that protects human rights, and at the moment there are a lot of concerns that is not happening."

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ohn
November 29, 2012 5:38 PM
Burma's Suu of the West's pin up girl simply wants to comfort and pacify the people to go along with the military's sell out plan.

Not only for the Chinese like this time but also for any one who will give Burma money to make it look like Thailand or Singapore while keeping the public of Burma in debts and debts and debts in trillions which will enslave the whole nation for generations to come just to pay off interest not to mention total destruction of the millenium old society and culture and degradation of morality.

Good "Reforms." Wonderful, wonderful. Get rid of the turue land owners. Get money. Buy iPAD's.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid