A coalition of 35 civil society organizations in Burma has issued a statement calling for the National League for Democracy-led government to suspend all mining operations in the country.
The statement was released on Thursday after representatives from Kachin, Kuki, Karen, Karenni, Chin, Ta’ang, Mon, Arakan and Shan states and divisions concluded a three-day conference in Kachin State capital Myitkyina.
“The current concessions on mining and the new mining concessions must be suspended,” reads the statement.
Sai Khur Hseng of the Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization and the spokesperson of the newly formed Myanmar Mining Watch Network (MMWN) said that the ruling government, when it sets its new policy, must not neglect people’s losses and damage caused by mining operations.
“Civilians whose lands were destroyed by mining activity have never been fully compensated,” he said. “In response, civilians from every part of the country have formed this network to demand the government stop mining operations.”
Sai Khur Hseng told Shan Herald that many villagers’ lands had been forcibly confiscated and damaged due to gold mining in Tar Lue, a village in eastern Shan State’s Tachileik Township.
“Over 300 acres of villagers’ lands have been destroyed by mining waste,” he explained. “One villager was even shot dead and several people were injured.”
On 9 December 2015, SHAN reported that Burmese soldiers, who in October 2014 shot dead a villager named Loong Sarm, had never been brought into justice.
“A process of justice must be applied to solve the issues of those who have lost their lives or been injured due to mining,” said Myanmar Mining Watch Network (MMWN).
According to Sai Hor Hseng, a spokesperson for the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF), mining activities have impacted both human beings and the environment. He said that those people who live near mining operations are often afflicted with diseases and ailments.
MMWN said it urges the state government to recognize and follow the recommendations of the local civic community.
Numerous mining operations are currently ongoing in Shan State, including: coal mining in Mong Kok, Hsipaw, Nam Zarng, Panglong and Mongkerng; and gold mines at Mong Len in Tachileik, and Ti Gyit in Panglaung Township.
Burma’s unsafe mining practices were highlighted last November when at least 116 people were killed in a landslide at the Hpakant jade mine in northern Kachin State.
The new Aung San Suu Kyi-led government has vowed to investigate that incident and others where people’s lives and the environment have been affected.
BY: Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)