Land investigation team sends data to Mdy govt
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
Villagers pan for copper from a mine dump near the Sabal Mountain copper mine project in northern Sagaing in September 2012.