Land in­ves­ti­ga­tion team sends data to Mdy govt

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - Khin­suwai@mm­times.com KHIN SU WAI

A team prob­ing land con­fis­ca­tions that oc­cured dur­ing the tran­si­tion be­tween gov­ern­ments sub­mit­ted a re­port on Novem­ber 16.

AF­TER a town­ship court up­held a ver­dict against three en­vi­ron­ment ac­tivists last week, they are ap­peal­ing the charges of un­law­ful assem­bly, tres­pass­ing and wrong­ful re­straint at the high court.

Ko Tint Aung Soe, a mem­ber of the Myan­mar Al­liance for Trans­parency and Ac­count­abil­ity, along with lo­cal res­i­dents Ko Moe Khaing and Ko Thaw­dar Tun, have been fight­ing the charges since June 2015. The three men were charged un­der sec­tions 147, 341 and 447.

In May, the three de­fen­dants were con­victed and sen­tenced to 52 days in prison and fined K5000 each, but they ap­pealed the Yin­marpin Dis­trict Court con­vic­tion on July 17. They have now launched a fur­ther ap­peal against the Sal­ingyi Town­ship Court’s Novem­ber 17 de­ci­sion to up­hold the ver­dict, with the case now pro­ceed­ing to the Re­gional High Court.

The charges arose from re­peated at­tempts by the de­fen­dants to meet with of­fi­cials of Myan­mar Yang Tse Cop­per Lim­ited (MYTCL), the oper­a­tor of the Sa­betaung and Ky­is­in­taung mine in Sal­ingyi town­ship. MATA and lo­cal vil­lagers said they wanted to raise ques­tions con­cern­ing land use and own­er­ship, re­gional de­vel­op­ment, lo­cal re­cruit­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, and cor­po­rate ethics. The de­fen­dants claim they were on the Chi­nese min­ing com­pany’s prop­erty to try to meet with au­thor­i­ties who had been ig­nor­ing them fol­low­ing a dis­re­gard of a com­mu­nity re­port on Sus­tain­abil­ity and Strat­egy Re­ports for Safety, Health and En­vi­ron­ment, re­leased last year.

Yang Tse is a branch of the Chi­nese min­ing firm Wan­bao, which op­er­ates the hotly con­tested Let­padaung mine in Monywa. The Sa­betaung and Ky­is­in­taung cop­per ore mine was de­vel­oped by Cana­dian firm Ivan­hoe Mines in co­op­er­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment, but was sold to Wan­bao af­ter Ivan­hoe pulled out of the coun­try to pur­sue in­ter­ests in Mon­go­lia.

Ac­cord­ing to the de­fen­dants’ lawyer, they had four key de­mands in seek­ing a meet­ing with Yang Tse, in­clud­ing a re­quest for com­pen­sa­tion, the ap­point­ment of per­ma­nent staff, the fi­nal­is­ing of a promised re­gion de­vel­op­ment fund US$500,000, and to have a three-party meet­ing be­tween gov­ern­ment, lo­cals and the com­pany.

MATA has also ex­pressed con­cerns about the com­pany’s use of acid in min­ing, re­quest­ing that an acid­drop­ping sys­tem be used in­stead of a spray­ing sys­tem in or­der to min­imise the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and mit­i­gate air qual­ity im­pli­ca­tions.

Yang Tse be­gan work­ing in Myan­mar in 2011, in­vest­ing 1.3 bil­lion yuan (over $145 mil­lion). Its first cop­per min­ing projects were on sites at Sa­bal Moun­tain and Kyaysin Moun­tain in Sal­ingyi town­ship.

– Trans­la­tion by San Layy

Photo: AFP

Vil­lagers pan for cop­per from a mine dump near the Sa­bal Moun­tain cop­per mine project in north­ern Sa­gaing in Septem­ber 2012.

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