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Myanmar copper mine protestors hurt in police crackdown

Last Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 16:00

Zeenews Bureau

Monywa: Protesting against the expansion of a copper mine in Monya town of Myanmar, dozens of local farmers and monks were injured with burns on Thursday when security forces fired water cannons and “flare guns” at them.

The protesters including local farmers, monk and activists were demonstrating since June against Letpadaung copper mine and had set up protest camps, which were set on fire, causing burn injuries to dozens.

The activists say that they were protesting against “forced land evictions” as they were compelled to sign a deal two years ago to facilitate the mine expansion, the BBC reports.

According to the deal, they had to lose their lands in return for new housing and financial compensation.

The government ordered protesters earlier this week to evacuate the mine by Wednesday or face legal action. The Myanmar government which had recently been applauded by the US and exempted of economic sanctions, is in dire need of foreign investments. But the violent crackdown by Myanmar police on peaceful mine protesters might make things tougher.

A local farmer with face and body covered with black burn spots said, police fired water cannons first and then fired from what he and others called flare guns.

"They fired black balls that exploded into fire sparks. They shot about six times. People ran away and they followed us," he said, still writhing hours later from pain. "It`s very hot."

He further said that the police arrived at the mine site around 2:30 am and gave just 5 minutes to the activist to leave.

Letpadaung copper mine is Burma`s largest, and jointly owned by the Myanmar’s military and a Chinese firm.

China is a major investor and strategic ally of Myanmar, and the backing of the military is crucial to government stability.

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 14:20
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