DVB Multimedia Group

Measures to prevent violence put forward after Sagaing jade mine killings

Hand-pickers walk as they search for jade through rubble dumped by mining companies at a jade mine in Hpakant Township, Kachin State, on 7 July 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

Sagaing divisional authorities are undertaking a four-step plan to prevent violent confrontations between licensed mining companies and so-called “freelance” jade scavengers at the Khamti jade mines after an altercation two days ago saw four scavengers shot dead by law enforcement personnel.

On Wednesday, four freelancers were killed and 11 others injured in an altercation with security forces who were attempting to disperse them from a mining site operated by the Burmese military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Company Limited, where they were scavenging for leftover jade stones on a mound of excavated soil. According to Khamti police, the scavengers attacked and injured seven police officers, prompting the law enforcement personnel to discharge their firearms.

The Sagaing Division government on Thursday released a statement announcing a four-step plan to prevent further violence at the mines in Khamti Township: to lawfully remove “illegal occupants” within the mines; suspend all mining activities by companies to review whether their operations are in line with official mining laws and regulations; designate excavation dump sites and draw up official regulations for scavenging; and undertake actions to ensure the rule of law.

Khamti police said six injured miners were sent to the government hospital in Nansibon district; one who was shot in the groin remains in critical condition. Authorities are also increasing the security presence in the district, which is home to the Khamti mines.

Prior to Wednesday’s incident, local authorities in Khamti had issued an eviction order for “illegal occupants” of the mines under article 143 of the Burmese Penal Code, setting a 16-30 May window to comply.