Sagaing Region ministers have been meeting opponents of the Letpadaung copper mine to discuss a list of grievances, including lingering questions about the death of a protester.
By Vani Sathisan*
“Here is a real bullet, beside a shotgun shell with rubber pellets inside, that were used on the day Daw Khin Win was killed. I kept them as evidence. Why were real bullets used to disperse a crowd that was peacefully protesting?”
A relative of Khin Win put the question to representatives of the International Commission of Jurists during a recent visit to Monywa to monitor the human rights impact of the nearby Letpadaung copper mine.
The bullet displayed by the villager was used in the fatal shooting on December 22, 2014, of Khin Win, a landowner, during a protest against the expansion of the mine. Two other villagers were hurt in the same protest over the seizure of land in 35 nearby villages.
There remains a lack of transparency about whether there has been any credible investigation of villagers’ claims that workers from Wanbao joined forces with police that day to violently disperse the protestors.
Wanbao – a subsidiary of China’s state-owned weapons maker Norinco, which runs the mine in a joint venture with the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited – restarted production in May. In April, Wanbao released a slick corporate social accountability video called “A New Dawn” to show it had a “social licence” to operate.
However, the ICJ’s discussions with affected communities, including meetings at the Sagaing regional hluttaw and the General Administration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs, found different sentiments in villages near the project. Grievances in the communities included land grabs, loss of livelihoods and environmental damage. Continue reading