Myanmar govt apologises to monks over mine protest injuries

YANGON Sat Dec 8, 2012 8:54am IST

Police Sagaing Division Chief San Yuu prays and explains to Buddhist monks during an apology ceremony at a temple in Monywa December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Police Sagaing Division Chief San Yuu prays and explains to Buddhist monks during an apology ceremony at a temple in Monywa December 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

Related Topics

Kishore Pandey, 82, lies on a bed as his daughter, Usha Tiwari, holds him and a priest stands by them (L) at Mukti Bhavan (Salvation House) in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Waiting to die at Salvation House

The city of Varanasi is Hinduism's holiest city and many Hindus believe that dying there and having their remains scattered in the Ganges allows their soul to escape a cycle of death and rebirth.  Slideshow 

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's government has apologised for injuries, including serious burns, suffered last month by monks and others when riot police cleared camps set up to protest against evictions caused by the expansion of a copper mine.

Minister of Religious Affairs Myint Maung made a formal apology to 29 senior monks and said police regretted the incident, state-owned television reported late on Friday.

Activists said at least 50 people had been injured when riot police moved in at the Monywa mine in the northwest region of Sagaing on November 29. That included more than 20 Buddhist monks, some with burns blamed on incendiary devices thrown by police.

The mine is operated by the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd working with a unit of China North Industries Corp, a Chinese weapons manufacturer.

Anger had grown at the heavy-handed police intervention, reminiscent of the way dissent was stifled under the junta that ruled Myanmar for half a century until President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian, reformist government took office in March 2011.

As monks protested around the country, Thein Sein quickly asked opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to head an investigation into the incident and the copper mine project.

"The policemen who had to discharge their duties were extremely sorrowful that monks, some novices and other persons were wounded in the copper mining project incident," Myint Maung told the monks, adding that the government would do its utmost to ensure such "undesirable incidents" did not happen again.

"It was found that the monks and novices carried no guilt as they were young and had no knowledge of political tricks," he said.

No mention was made of how the burns were caused. The authorities had previously said police had used tear gas and water cannon.

At a news conference on Thursday, Suu Kyi said it would be premature to blame anyone for the incident.

"It is impossible to satisfy everyone in such an inquiry," she said. "The commission will do its best to reveal the truth and make the best suggestions bravely for the long-term interests of the country, the people, and for cementing democracy."

She said compromise would be necessary between villagers and the operators of the mine.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has called the episode a test case for the government's willingness to allow peaceful protest and make the security forces accountable for abuses.

Residents say the $1 billion mine expansion involves the unlawful confiscation of more than 7,800 acres (3,160 hectares) of land.

(Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Paul Tait)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Mideast Conflict

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Development Report

Development Report

U.N. urges sustained effort to improve flagging development.  Full Article 

Downed Plane

Downed Plane

"Weeks or months" until Malaysian remains from MH17 can be returned home - PM.  Full Article 

Food Scandal

Food Scandal

China probes 581 firms, restaurants as food safety scare spreads.  Full Article 

Plane Crash

Plane Crash

Taiwan says weather not seen as cause of plane crash that killed 48.  Full Article 

Fighting Polio

Fighting Polio

Nigeria may have no polio cases next year, says Bill Gates.  Full Article 

Health Study

Health Study

Paracetamol no better than placebo for low back pain, study finds.  Full Article 

Strategic Plans

Strategic Plans

China plans railway to India, Nepal borders by 2020.  Full Article 

Leaving Russia

Leaving Russia

Disenchanted with Putin, some Russians vote with their feet.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage