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International condemnation for Monywa crackdown

Originally appeared in Mizzima

December 2, 2012

Voices from around the world condemned Thursday’s crackdown on peaceful protesters by riot police at Monywa copper mine in Sagaing Division and called for a Burmese government response to the violence.

“A hospital ward full of horribly burned Buddhist monks and other protesters deserve to know who attacked them while they were sleeping and what the government is going to do about it,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The crackdown at the Letpadaung mine is a fundamental test case for the government’s commitment to peaceful assembly and willingness to demand accountability for abuses.”

Human Rights Watch noted that the copper mine project in question is jointly owned by Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, a Burmese military conglomerate, and Wanbao Mining, a subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacturer.

“For many years [local villagers] have had health problems from air, soil, and water contamination they believe are the result of mining processes. Many at the old mine sites also allege their land was confiscated without compensation,” Human Rights Watch said in a December 1 statement.

“The government’s response to the Letpadaung crackdown will be crucial for determining whether military-invested projects still operate above the law in Burma,” Robertson said.

In the US, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Friday: “We’re following with concern reports that Burmese security services forcibly evicted those who were peacefully protesting against this copper mine’s planned expansion in Burma. We have been urging the government to ensure that security forces exercise maximum restraint, respect due process, and protect the right of the Burmese people to freely assemble in accordance with international standards.”

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, a hundred Burmese held a demonstration on Saturday condemning the Burmese government for its “brutal crackdown on peaceful
protesters.”

The organizers submitted a petition to the Burmese and Chinese presidents through the respective embassies in the Indian capital urging an immediate suspension of the copper mine project, an investigation into the crackdown, and the immediate release of all those who have been arrested in
connection with the protests.

Furthermore, they called on China’s President Hu Jintao to withdraw the Wanbao Company from the project, and to ensure that Chinese corporations operating in Burma follow Chinese laws as well as international laws and guidelines

And on Friday, an alliance of 55 international NGOs and domestic civil society organizations signed a statement condemning the violent crackdown on protesters at Latpadaung Mountain.

“Six key organizers of supporting protests in Rangoon were also arrested: Ko Wai Lu, Daw Shan Ma, Ko Myo Chit, Ko Ye Lin, Daw Naw Ohn Hla and Ko Nyi Nyi,” the statement noted. “They were originally arrested under Article 18(b) of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting without permission. However, they have since been charged under section 505(b) of the penal code for committing or inducing others ‘to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility’.

“This section of the penal code has been identified by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, in his report to the Human Rights Council in March of this year, as not complying with international human rights standards. It has been employed systematically to detain political activists and those who oppose the government. We join Mr. Quintana in calling for this section of the penal code to be repealed,” the statement said.

It was signed by the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, Burma Campaign UK, Generation Wave, US Campaign for Burma, and various ethnic organizations and community-based groups in Burma.

View the original article here.

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