UNION OF MYANMAR: Serious risk of further human rights abuses at controversial Letpadaung mine

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3 Dec 2014
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Business and Human Rights

Two years after police used incendiary weapons against monks and villagers protesting a mining project in central Myanmar, no one has been held accountable, Amnesty International said ahead of the anniversary of the attack.

The organization also highlights ongoing problems with the way the Letpadaung mine is being developed and the risk of further abuses. Construction is proceeding without resolving ongoing environmental and human rights concerns. Thousands of farmers remain under the threat of forced evictions since their lands were acquired for the mine in a flawed process characterized by misinformation.

On 29November 2012, police used white phosphorous munitions in their attack on a peaceful protest against the Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region, injuring at least 99 monks and nine other protesters. Many suffered extremely painful burns and some have been left with lifelong injuries and scarring.

“Two years after this brutal attack, no police officer or official who was involved in the attack has been investigated, prosecuted or sanctioned, while the government has failed to provide victims with effective remedies and adequate reparation. White phosphorus munitions should never be used by the police – the use of such weapons against peaceful protesters is a flagrant violation of international law,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

The mining project is being developed by a subsidiary of the Chinese mining company Wanbao Mining Ltd and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL), the economic arm of the Myanmar military.

The underlying human rights and environmental issues have also yet to be resolved. Protests in the region continue as hundreds of families resist forced evictions from their land to make room for the Letpadaung mine.

Four villages, made up of 441 households, are supposed to be completely relocated for the Letpadaung mining project. Of these, 245 have been moved to resettlement sites, while the remaining 196 have refused to leave their homes.

“The authorities should urgently set up a genuine consultation with the affected villages on the land acquisition and proposed evictions. They must guarantee that no one will be forcibly evicted,” said Audrey Gaughran.

“The construction of the Letpadaung mine must be halted immediately until a thorough environmental and social impact assessment has been carried out, which genuinely consults all the people affected.”

The assessment also ignores community concerns about the nearby, existing Sabetaung and Kyisintaung copper mine, operated by another subsidiary of Wanbao, and the Moe Gyo Sulphuric Acid Factory, owned by UMEHL, which supplies acid to the mine.

27 November 2014

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