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The government today defended its bloody crackdown on hundreds of peaceful protestors near a Chinese-backed copper mine, as in accordance with “democratic principles” and the “rule of law”.
In an announcement posted on the presidential office’s website on Thursday, the government denied using excessive force against the activists, who were protesting against the controversial Latpaduang Copper Mine in Monywa township, northern Burma.
It follows reports that security forces used tear gas, flare guns and chemical agents against protestors this morning, causing over 30 people, including monks, to suffer severe injuries and burns.
According to the government, protestors – who did not have permission to demonstrate – had ignored several dispersal warnings. Security forces subsequently cleared the site “using step-by-step anti-rioting tactics” including “fire hoses, tear gas and smoke bombs which are utilised internationally for riot-suppression.”
The government insisted the copper mine was approved by the previous administration and has been designed to promote both economic development and sustainable environmental practices.
However, activists say the project has led to the confiscation of 7,800 acres of farmland and forced farmers from 66 villages in the area to move.
China also defended the mine today, and urged protestors to support the project.
“The relocation, compensation, environmental protection and other issues involved with this project were jointly settled through negotiations by the Chinese and Myanmar sides and meet Myanmar’s laws and regulations. We hope all levels of Myanmar society can provide an environment beneficial to the project’s development,” a Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman told VOA.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi travelled to Monywa township today in an effort to resolve the escalating crisis.