Conflict & Justice

Myanmar: Police crack down on copper mine protesters


Rush hour traffic moves near by the Sule Pagoda at dusk in Yangon, Myanmar.


Paula Bronstein

Witnesses say police in Myanmar used incendiary devices to disperse protesters demonstrating against the expansion of the country’s largest copper mine Friday, the New York Times reported.

The raid on protesters’ camps near Monywa is the largest crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces since President Thein Sein’s civilian government assumed power almost a year ago.

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Ashin Visara, a 28-year-old monk who was injured during the raid, told The New York Times that police threw “explosive devices” which started fires at the protesters’ camps. “And then they attacked us,” he added.

Since June, local farmers and monks have been protesting what they describe as forced evictions from their land so that the Chinese arms manufacturer which co-owns the mine with Myanmar’s military can expand the mine, BBC News reported.

Protesters said dozens were injured, BBC News reported. Photos showed monks suffering from burns, The New York Times said.

According to the Times:

The crackdown was conducted by security forces who have little experience using modern crowd-control methods that are meant to minimize casualties.

President Thein Sein's office said in a statement that police had broken up the protest using water cannon, tear gas and smoke bombs, BBC News reported.

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