Youths bravely stood up against a coal mining company that they say has been providing kickbacks to the ruling State Administration Council (SAC) in order to mine in Hsipaw Township, situated in northern Shan State.
“We want local people to be able to work on their farms,” said an anonymous youth who joined the 1 October protest. He explained they want to stop the Ngwe Yi Pale company from operating in the township, where it has been working since 2004.
Following the coup, SAC has permitted it to extract coal on more than 3,000 acre in northern Shan State.
In early 2021, representatives from the company visited villages and told the leaders they would mine in the area and warned them not to oppose its operations.
The youth said they want the local authorities to protect the natural resources. Everyone needs to oppose coal mining in the area, he said. Ngwe Yi Pale’s license had already expired and was reinstated after Burma’s military took over the country, the youth explained.
Water sources, forests, as well as people’s farms and gardens have been negatively impacted by the mining.
“Farmers cannot get water for their farms…for three years,” said Aik Taw, using a pseudonym. He said the mining threatens the livelihoods and health of over 3,000 people in the township.
According to the Shan Human Rights Foundation, people’s health, their businesses, and the local environment has been affected. Locals have reported the presence of cracks in the soil and landslides in the vicinity of Nar Koon and Koong Poa villages.