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Published on Thursday, 29 November 2012 20:05
On the holy and sacred day of the Buddhist, the full moon day of Tasaunmone, a violent and ugly event occurred as the security police force cracked down on the sit-in protestors at the camps in Letpantaungtaiung copper mine on November 29, which many prominent persons from various sphere expressed unacceptable.
At 3 am on the fateful morning, police force used abundant tear gas and water cannon in dispersing the protesters at the camps in copper mine project site. A witness at the violent scene recounted that the heavy police force used flammable devices including fire guns (chemical weapons) in dispersing the crowd.
Renowned journalist Hanthawady U Win Tin commented that this violent crackdown may trigger all the people to take side with the sit-in demonstrators.
U Win Tin continued, “The violent crackdown is totally unacceptable. It is entirely wrong. I think the matter is to be resolve at the earliest. The crackdown is violent. I mean extremely violent. Even in town and city, the use of tear gas I considered too forceful. In this event, it is undeniable that the police force used flammable bombs. Many monks and people were injured with burns. One senior monk has been rushed to the Mandalay Hospital, and therefore, the matter should be considered as very serious. What we are worried is that such violence might push the entire people to take side with the protesters.”
Political commentator Dr. Yan Myo Thein was of the view that the untoward incident might pull NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi into a mess and predicament, putting strain over the national reconciliation.
Yan Myo Thein continued, “The use of force on the protestors plunges Suu Kyi into a very tight situation. It is not an appropriate solution that hinders the national reconciliation. Suu Kyi is sure to face a dilemma at the area in question, losing sight to find solution. I am of the view that the violent crackdown may have negative impact on the national reconciliation.”
MP U Kyi Myint of lower house from Latha Township said that he condemned the violent crackdown at the copper mine camps and that the horrid and ugly episode should be salvaged and revamp.
“I totally object the whole incident. Their acts are contrary to democratic practices. It is proof that there are still dictatorial acts and behavior of the past or the old system. Those responsible for cracking down the protest should apologize. In my opinion, they should clarify the situation to the public in terms of economic, for example, until the people understand. They should explain that it is concerned with the economic dignity of the state. All the detainees must be released. This is a solution to national reconciliation. It is necessary to save face as this issue is very awful,” said Kyi Myint.
Authorities need to issue a statement regarding the severe clampdown on the demonstrations. They also need to take responsible and explain the situation if there are any people who show their dissatisfaction and complaints, blogger Nay Phone Latt commented.
An environmentalist, U Ohn aged 80, said their acts to crush the protests are inhumane and he will stand by the protestors.
“I feel very sorry. We will not give in. I will my do my bit as much as I can. I wanted to have participated in the protests. But I couldn’t because of my age. I wanted to have faced being gunned down,” U Ohn noted.
Their act to break up the protest without any negotiation is a great concern for the future of our nation, said Htay Kywe, a member of ‘88’ Student Generation Group.
The Group wants no violence against the protesters. The government should have shown their patience at a time when Myanmar is in a period of transition to building trust between it and the people. The incident is really a concern for the nation, Jimmy, another member of ’88 Student Generation Group.
Though public protests cause a difficulty for the government, it should not have taken a wrong step. The incident now is a lesson to take, Daw Hla Myint, a retired professor commented.
When international investors are eyeing businesses in Myanmar, such a crackdown should not have taken place. It is necessary review the fact that the implementation of national projects without transparency adversely affected the regional and local interests, said Than Lwin, member of the National Advisory Board for Social and Economic Affairs and vice chairman of Kanbawza Bank.
It is questionable why riots cracked down the protesters in the copper mine project area as they vigilantly handled Rakhine communal violence, Chief Editor Kyaw Min Swe of The Voice Weekly journal said.
Director Zaw Htay of the President's Office told the Eleven Media Group that no chemical weapons were used in cracking down the protest camps from Lapadaungtaung copper mine project.
In the raid of the protest camps, dozens were injured and most of them are monks. According to the current information, some 50 are being admitted at Monywa hospital for the medical treatment. Most injured sustained burnt. One of the injured monks who is in a critical condition was rushed to Mandalay General Hospital. The security force's raid left almost one hundred injured. The unconfirmed report said that there were deaths and some were detained.
"According to ground data of our two reporters waiting to cover news and witnesses, the government riots cracked down the protest camps more forcibly than required. The government troops launched battles with KIA to protect China's hydropower project. Tens of thousands of government servicemen were dead and injured in the never-ending battles. KIA also lost lives and hundreds of thousands of local Kachin are facing trouble. We accept that the copper mine project should not be stopped. I want to give an advance warning that if Myitsone dam was built, we would become the slaves of China, that if Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project was implemented, the country would be in flame and split into pieces. As China's interest is extremely protected by the government, anti-Chinese spirit becomes embedded in people's conscience," Chairman and CEO Dr. Than Htut Aung of the Eleven Media Group said.
Several comments from respective areas on riots' crackdown to protesters in Lapadaungtaung copper mine project
U Win Tin (Hanthawady)
"We denounce the government riots' crackdown on the protesters. Now is the time to peacefully deal with the problems in the country. The government is handling the problems of national reconciliation and ethics in a peaceful way. At such a time, we don't totally accept the riots' crackdown on the protesters. This is because it might be the nationwide protest from this beginning. I think it is wrongdoing. For this, it is immediately required to deal with this problem. In general, the riots use only tear gas in the major cities. It is undeniable that fire bomb was used in the raid, injuring most of the monks. One of the monks was rushed to Mandalay General Hospital. If the government is doing in this way, all the people will take part in the protest. It is earlier arranged that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver the public speech in this area. If the crackdown is going on, then the people will join the protest and the second Myitson will crop up.
Dr. Yan Myo Wai (Political writer)
It is not acceptable the way they handled. It should be solved by meeting both sides peacefully. Actually it should have been stopped for reconsideration of assessment from 360 angles. Based on the assessment report, the discussion should be made between foreign investor, Myanmar partner and locals. After the report and discussion, the investors to decide whether the project should be going on or not. This is the way is more appropriate to solve this problem. Using Force to end the protesting will bring more issues. The kind of action should not have been taking generally. It is still wrong if it was happened according to procedures. I think EIA report is important. Even an "Investigation" which is led by the government is not reliable. The investigation should point out what are the rights for victims. The rights should be in details and agreed by signing foreign company, Myanmar partner and locals. Everything should be done by agreement. Everyone should agree and if not the discussion is the only way to get agreement. Using Force will be unconscious to the changing of Myanmar democracy. It could impact to international level. On the other side, the trust of international will be declined as well. The worse could be the loosen trust between the government, people and political organizations that are driving to "Change". This could put Aung San Suu Kyi to tight situation. This is not good standard for reconciliation in long term while she is using the discussions method to solve the problems. She will be facing the hard time when she arrives to that area. The situation could be worsening for her plan. So I conclude this as obstruction for national reconciliation.
Jimmy (88 generation student’s organization)
I absolutely object this matter. This kind of procedures is against to the democratic people. This shows the shadow of the previous policies. First, government officials involved to use the force should apologize. After that the company should explain until it is clear for public to understand while doing business there by comparing in economic. The arrested people should be free. It may be against the law. I think the government has to be patient. Whether they dealt the solution with forceful ways, I am thinking about the crackdown and sad that we have that kind of situation. My heart is filled with sadness for my country.
Tin Nyunt (Political writer)
I heard and saw the explanation of Deputy General Wai Lwin for Lapadaungtaung riot on TV. It has been no problem according to his statement. Besides I understand that (1) that project is cooperation with Chinese and don’t want to break friendship with China (2) the joint venture is for the benefits of army and their families. Actually the benefits of army and people are faced head to head in the parliament. We have to watch closely if the president will stand with his people or army. I am depressed that they chose the forceful ways on the protesters. We can’t accept that they are calling out to democracy and on the other hand they still practice the manners of military junta. Moreover they knew that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi came to the area on November 29 and they crashed the protesters before she came. My view is that they have to wait until she dealt with the situation. They dealt the situation before she came because (1) they don’t believe her (2) they are afraid of her dealing the situation in peaceful ways (3) they are concerned about the fact that if she calm the protesters and persuade them go home, the people will be on her side. The projects that are agreed with China are not contracted in the new government era. Myanmar Military leaders and China agreed those in the regime era. The president avoided and agreed that the Myit Sone case will not implement in his presidential era. He transferred the case to next government. Besides the people just know the Lapadaungtaung case now. May be the people knew about that but they didn’t dare to talk aloud. The explanations in parliament are like a challenging instead of explaining and making statements. I am sad that another minister commented we have to thank to China. Actually they have mutual agreements and one is taking and one is giving. We haven’t heard the disagreement because they are cordial with each other. They are not frankly told us about the agreements, treaties and bonds in the regime era. I think if the lapadaungtaung case had transparency from the start, the problems won’t be that big. If the government is protecting the Chinese and squash its people, the abhorrence will be upon not only the government but also the Chinese.
Maung Moe Thu (Writer)
This is their political trick. It is also a matter if it is safe to disclose it or not. Actually, their action takes a form of pre-emptive attack before Daw Aung San Suu Kyi comes. This is my understanding on their trick. Generally, I don’t say much about political attitudes. If I have to comment on this event, I may have to say politics. I don’t want to say much.
Nay Phone Latt (Blogger)
It is no longer acceptable to do anything they want as in the past. For this action, who take the responsibility? The responsible person must take his responsibility and solve the consequences. As in the military reign, using violent attack whenever there is strike can no longer be easily done now. They don’t seem to understand it yet. The responsible person must be accountable. He must do the press release. He must explain why. Upon his press release, he must be responsible and accountable to those who are not satisfied with his explanation. The responsible person must return something in compensation.
U Soe Nyunt (Chairman of Myanmar Birds and Nature Society)
This is not the way to solve it in the democratic country. Everyone must have freedom of expression. I say it because this is the basis. The Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd. is just a company, with whoever it is composed of. Why it should destroy the country’s resources with no valid reason and only for the sake of the company’s interest and that of the foreigners. The people, the original owners of the land, demonstrated their opinions and the government staff, to whom the public feed, tortured them this way. This means not knowing the gratitude of the public. In other words, the government bit the feeding hand of the public. We must find out who commanded to shoot so. The people are now at the hospital. Solving this way will never be acceptable. Actually, the main cause is the country’s 2008 constitution designed to protect the power in their hand. That constitution must be discarded and it should be replaced with the one that is drawn up by the parliament members, whom the public choose themselves.
U Ohn (Vice Chairman of Forest Resource Environment Development Association)
Solving this way is so horrible. They say they will make reforms transparently and now their actions betrayed their words. Since even the monks were hospitalized, it is really unacceptable. I am really sad. We will never give up. We will do what we can do. I am now at my 80. If not, I will go there and join the protestors. I don’t care if they shoot me or not. I dare to sacrifice my life.
U Win Kyaing (General Secretary of Myanmar Fishery Federation)
It will be another case if it attacked this way because the protestors were doing violence at their camps. Now the protestors are demonstrating peacefully, and it is not required such attacks at all. On their attack, the victims’ skins were burned of chemical weapons. It goes beyond the limit. The action gives rise to the impression of bigger unrest. This will bring the undesirable situations to the country. They should not attack this way.
Thet Oo (Ex-Political Prisoners Group)
We feel terribly sorry for this. The forcible way is not a solution. The way they have used now is the same as those in the past. Negotiations are necessary. Public interest should be prioritized. Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd has had lots of monopolies. I strongly criticize their act.
Htay Kywe (‘88’ Student Generation Group)
I first thought the government would make negotiations and protect the interest of the citizens. But they addressed the issue in a forceful way. It is a great concern for the country’s future. I totally abhor their act.
I want to ask those who commanded to use fire bombs if they had a clear conscience. If they wanted to solve problems in a violent way, why they have had stripped off their military uniforms. The people always want engagement and negotiations. They staged a protest as they did not have the chance to negotiate. The public interests must be protected. We don’t accept the protection of interests of MEHL (Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd) and the Chinese company.
Kyaw Htwe (National League for Democracy)
I totally object such violence on any occasion or day. Negotiations are needed. Why does one side stage a protest? Why does the other side want to see no protests? Engagement is necessary. The public interest should be prioritized in a long term interest.
Wyne (Film director)
Although action can be taken in accord with the law, any violent crackdown should not have imposed. I am wondering if could lead back to previous situation of the country. I assume that should not have happened.
Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi (Film Director)
Letpantaung copper project is a scheme taken up by Chinese Wanbao Company and army backed Myanmar Economic Holding Limited, and we are not aware when the agreement was signed. This the project carried out by people that have no idea and vision. Due to this project local people and the monks in the surrounding villages have been displaced. For this reason, the local people staged the sit-in protest. Six protest camps have been opened. Last couple of day, an announcement was released to disperse from the site. It gave reason that to enable to carry out national level investigation, the protesters must move away from the site. Only when the Wanbao could resume the function, the investigation team will start the probe. With that reason, the police force crackdown the protestors. We received the news at three am in the morning. The people and the monks were injured. Although they said that they use tear gas, they people were injured with burns. The use of violence against the people for the wrong project is not a right solution. Using weapons against the people and the monks is not the correct method of a democratic government. It is a very sad episode and very much disturbing. I cannot imagine what kind of government is that. I have faith on this government from the very beginning. I and my family members did not participate in the 2008 in voting for the constitution. We did not vote in the 2010 general election. They claimed that they are legitimate government. If they govern the country in democratic way, it is all right. As they mismanaged in running the state affairs, it is very much disturbing.
U Than Lwin(Vice-Chairman of Kanbawza Bank and member of the National, Social and Economic Council)
This copper project is under implementation since the previous government. Now is the time of the democratic government, and it must have transparency. Clarification must be made whether the project is for the government, or the people or the Chinese. It is necessary to be reviewed. The local people, the government and the Chinese company should discuss and negotiate. Although agreement had been signed, it could be re-negotiated. The local people must be comforted. The government should not use force in resolving problem. I am very sad about this incident. There are many options. For instance, tax and compensation could be asked from the Chinese company on the damage of the environment. Assistance and aids could be asked from the Chinese company for social development. After the violence incident, the government has to shoulder heavy responsibility. The government should not use violent method at a time when the international investors watching. On the other hand, the people should not come out to the street for strike and demonstration. The main defect is lack of transparency. The project is to be reviewed for the benefit of the local people.
Daw Hla Myint (Professor)
In this matter, the actual sufferers are the local people. It should be reviewed for the benefit of the government, the Chinese company and the local people. The copper project is for whose benefit? Therefore, the government should reconsider over the project. If they wish to go forward for succeeding the project, they will need face to face meeting with the government, Chinese company and locals. The information of the project with details should be released to public. The project will be succeed if the public know clearly what exactly going on. This is a lesson while many incoming businesses to invest. The government should have made any wrong step at this time. On the other side, public should not protest for any issue that could make a difficult situation for the government. For the future projects, the government should have transparency and explain what the benefits are for locals.
Kyaw Min Swe (Chief Editor of the Voice Weekly Journal)
I absolutely object the using force. I agree with Aung San Suu Kyi that protesting is not the way to solve any cases. I understand that breaking the MOUs can jeopardize the relation between two countries. It is not easy to break the agreement once signed. However, I do not want to say anything about agreeing or not agreeing for protesting or suspending the projects or not. I object the way how the used force cruelly on peacefully protesting monks and locals. International has a system to calm the rioters down step by step. We do not have to tell what the steps are. The warning has been issued for two days from the government side. However, this could have not been at this early in the morning (3 a.m.). To break the protesters, how much well training has been done for police officers. Were they really police officer even wearing the police uniforms? There are so many questions to ask for us. Why would they do this kind of brutal violence? There are questions why the police force committed such a cruel violent although they had performed very positive handling on Rakhine issue. The government should have an answer while people will ask this happened because the Republic of China is behind this. The main I am saying is not about agreeing or not agreeing for protesting. Once again protesting is not the way to solve the problems. People to accept this, the government should be willing to explain tolerantly. However, I object that using force on peaceful protesters.