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Ma Khin Win, a 50-year-old farmer from Mogyopyin village, became the first fatality of Latpadaung’s long-running feud between local residents who are fighting to keep their land and the forces of officialdom, personified by Burmese security forces and Chinese mine operators.
On Monday, after a tense stand-off for several hours, police opened fire on a group of around 200 local protestors. Reports indicate that the villagers had earlier used slingshots to repel the police who were equipped with riot gear.
Locals have told DVB that the police responded in kind with stones shot from slings, and warned the farmers that they would be shot if they did not move. “The protestors tried to block them from entering the plots and refused to give in,” said one Sete villager.
Khin San Hlaing, a union parliament MP from nearby Pale Township, said she was informed by locals that Khin Win was shot dead by police.
“I was told by the villagers that Daw Khin Win was shot in the head when the police opened fire. The photos we received showed a bullet wound entering her forehead and exiting through the back of her head,” she told DVB by telephone at 3:30pm local time.
“Her body was still lying in the sesame field and no one had the courage to go pick it up,” the MP added. “We were also informed that another villager, U Hmine, from Mogyopyin village was shot in the thigh and was bleeding out. But he was yet to be taken to hospital.”
She added that a third villager, a woman named Ma Kyu, was injured in the eye.
Myanmar Wanbao has issued a statement, expressing its “deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to her family”.
The confrontation came about after staff from the Myanmar Wanbao Company, which operates the mine, arrived with police security on Monday morning to lay fences across land plots that villagers have refused to give up, despite several offers from Wanbao of financial compensation.