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Suu Kyi meets more anger over Myanmar mine.


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MONYWA, Myanmar (AP) — With rare hostility, villagers sharply criticized opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday as she traveled in northwestern Myanmar to explain why she supports a mining project opposed by many local residents.

Suu Kyi failed to persuade the villagers to accept the findings of an official panel she headed that the Letpadaung copper mine should be allowed to continue operating to encourage foreign investors to help the lagging economy.

At one point, residents barricaded their village in Monywa township with thorny brush and only allowed Suu Kyi to enter after she had shed some of her police escort and accompanying journalists.

The unwelcome reception was virtually unprecedented for the much-honored heroine of the country’s pro-democracy movement. In the past, mobs organized by the military had tried to intimidate her, but most of her countrymen regarded her practically as a saint.

Suu Kyi’s responsibilities have become more complicated now that her National League for Democracy party is no longer an embattled David fighting the Goliath of a military government, and instead is a competitor in the electoral politics of a fledgling democracy.

Last weekend, her party began a restructuring process for a 2015 general election in which Suu Kyi will face opposition from the army-backed party of President Thein Sein on one flank, and from hard-core anti-military activists on the other.

One of Suu Kyi’s closest lieutenants, veteran journalist Win Tin, said she should heed the feelings ofMonywa’s residents, and that her failure to do so spurred anger and opposition.

Suu Kyi “may have her own good intentions, but she has failed to listen to the sentiments of the villagers,” said Win Tin, 86, a co-founder of her party who like Suu Kyi was detained for years for his political work. “Money cannot always appease the people, because sometimes it is their pride and love for their hometown that will prevail over money.”

The villagers in the Monywa area would once have been Suu Kyi’s natural constituency — downtrodden farming people tired of oppressive military rule that failed to deliver prosperity. And not all the villagers were disenchanted Thursday. After a day of confrontations, as she arrived at the Monywa hotel where she was staying, a crowd of about 100 people greeted her with flowers, shouting, “We support you.”

But the day — the second of her tour — had been a rough one for her.

Suu Kyi’s panel concluded that honoring the mine contract was necessary, both to keep good relations with China because of the mine’s Chinese joint venture partner, and to maintain the confidence of foreign investors whose help is needed to power economic growth.

Those seeking to stop the project contend that the $997 million deal, signed in May 2010, lacked transparency because it did not undergo parliamentary scrutiny under the previous military regime. They say the mine causes social and environmental problems and desecrates their mountain landscape.

Suu Kyi failed to change the minds of many villagers, who were also upset that her commission made little criticism of police who broke up an anti-mine protest in November using smoke bombs containing white phosphorous that severely burned scores of protesters, mostly Buddhist monks.

In its report made public Tuesday, the commission faulted police for failing to understand how the smoke bombs worked and recommended that they receive riot-control training, but failed to hold any officials accountable.

At Hsede village, a hotbed of opposition to the mine where villagers set up barricades of thorny brush, Suu Kyi spent more than an hour talking with angry protesters but failed to win them over.

Many villagers ran after her motorcade as it left, shouting, “Stop the project.”

She encountered more anger at Tone village, where hundreds of furious residents shouted, “We want our Letpadaung mountain.” In tears, women blamed Suu Kyi for the recommendation to continue the project and expressed regret for supporting her, saying they had harbored high hopes that her commission would call for the mine’s closure.

Suu Kyi tried unsuccessfully to calm the crowd by explaining the potential benefits.

“Whether she can upgrade our living standard or not, we want our mountain. Even if they give many jobs to us, we don’t want to be the servants of the Chinese,” said Nyo Lay, referring to the mine’s operators. “They took our land and will earn a lot. It’s hurtful that the money they give to us is from what they get from our own land.”

She said she lost her 10-acre (4-hectare) plot to the project, and now is a farm worker, earning less than a dollar a day.

Before leaving Monywa, Suu Kyi reflected on the villagers’ reaction, saying it was not a matter of whether they made her feel bad.

“They want me to do what they want. I simply said no,” she told reporters. “Anyone engaged in politics should have the courage to face animosity. It is not right to engage in politics to win popularity.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By YADANA HTUN | Associated Press

Myanmar villagers unhappy that Suu Kyi backs mine.


  • Protesting villagers march and shout slogans as they stage a rally against a recent report on Letpataung copper mine project by investigation commission, in Monywa township, 760 kilometers (450 miles) north of Yangon, central Myanmar, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Opponents of a nearly $1 billion copper mine in northwestern Myanmar expressed outrage Tuesday over the government-ordered report that said the project should continue and that refrained from demanding punishment for police involved in a violent crackdown on protesters. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

    View PhotoAssociated Press/Khin Maung Win – Protesting villagers march and shout slogans as they stage a rally against a recent report on Letpataung copper mine project by investigation commission, in Monywa township, …more 

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MONYWA, Myanmar (AP) — Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyimet with rare public scorn while trying to justify an official report endorsing continued operation of a copper mine in northwestern Myanmar opposed by many local residents.

Suu Kyi talked with protesters in Monywa township and with mine officials Wednesday about the report of a commission she led to investigate the Letpadaung mine’s operations and a police crackdown last November that badly injured scores of protesters.

The report, made public Tuesday, said honoring the mining contract with a Chinese joint venture outweighed villagers’ demands that mining operations be halted because of alleged social and environmental problems. It only mildly criticized police, despite the injuries caused to protesters, mostly Buddhist monks, by the use of incendiary smoke bombs.

More than 700 protesters shouted denunciations of the report as Suu Kyi’s motorcade passed between visits to four local villages.

Raising their fists in the air, protesters yelled, “We don’t want the commission” and “To stop the Letpadaung copper project is our duty,” shouting louder as Suu Kyi’s car came closer.

Sandar, a protester from Alaltaw village, said the report neglected the troubles the mine caused local residents.

“We feel that Mother Suu doesn’t have sympathy for us. We are fighting for the truth,” she said, calling Suu Kyi by a term used by her supporters.

“We are not clear whether she made this decision because she is afraid of the military company or because she doesn’t love us. We want her to know that we are not protesting out of idleness,” she said. Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd., a military-controlled holding company, is the local joint ventureparty in the mine.

Suu Kyi’s endorsement of the commission’s findings could erode some of the deep and wide support she has enjoyed for more than two decades as she spearheaded the democratic opposition to the repressive former military government. A nominally civilian elected government took power in 2011, and Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party contested by-elections last year, giving her a seat in parliament.

As her party has agreed to play by parliamentary rules — in effect endorsing the army-backed government’s reform efforts — there is an opening for more hard-core anti-military activists to win over a share of disaffected voters who prefer a quicker pace of change than allowed under the army-dictated constitution. The next general election is in 2015.

Protesters say the mine, a joint venture with China’s Wan Bao mining company, causes environmental, social and health problems and should be shut down.

The report said the operation should not be halted but acknowledged that the mine lacked strong environmental protection measures and would not create more jobs for local people. It said scrapping the mine could create tension with China and could discourage badly needed foreign investment.

Those seeking to stop the project contend that the $997 million joint venture deal, signed in May 2010, did not undergo parliamentary scrutiny because it was concluded under the previous military regime.

Many in Myanmar remain suspicious of the military and regard China as an aggressive and exploitative investor that helped support military rule.

The commission faulted the police force for failing to understand how the smoke bombs worked and recommended that police receive riot-control training, but failed to hold any official accountable.

Suu Kyi held question-and-answer sessions with villagers and met with executives from the mining company.

She told villagers that if they wanted to protest the report’s findings, they should demonstrate at her home, not at the mining company. Emphasizing the rule of law, she said any such protest must follow the law requiring prior permission, otherwise police would be summoned.

She said her commission considered three options for the mine: to continue, to stop or to continue with changes. The commission recommended the third way.

“If we stopped it completely, where would we get money to heal the current environmental destruction? The shutdown of the mine is not beneficial for locals. If we break the agreement made with another country, the countries of the world will suppose that Myanmar is financially unreliable,” Suu Kyi said.

Several villagers said they rejected Suu Kyi’s position. At a protest camp a short distance from the mining company’s offices, Nyein, 49, said demonstrators would fight until death to recover mountain land taken over for the mine. She was forced to relinquish her four-acre plot three years ago to make way for the project.

“What we want is to stop the project completely,” she said. “Our great forefathers could protect the mountains that sustained us even when we fell under the rule of the Japanese and the British. Why are they being totally lost when we are ruling our own land?”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By YADANA HTUN | Associated Press

Myanmar gov’t apologizes for crackdown violence.


YANGON, Myanmar (AP)Myanmar‘s government formally apologized Saturday to the country’sBuddhist monks for its recent crackdown on protesters at a copper mine that injured more than 100 of their monastic colleagues.

President’s Office Minister Hla Tun led other officials in apologizing to senior and injured monks in the central city of Mandalay.

Police used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs on Nov. 29 to break up an 11-day occupation of the Letpadaung mine project in northwestern Myanmar, a joint venture between a military-owned holding company and a Chinese company. Protesters want the project halted, saying it is causing environmental, social and health problems.

The monks had been holding protests to demand an apology for the violence, with hundreds marching peacefully this past Wednesday in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s two biggest cities, along with Monywa, the town closest to the mine, and at least six other towns.

Shin Wirathu, one of the monks leading the protests, said Saturday’s action satisfied their demands for a formal apology. The monks had rejected previous apologies by officials as inadequate and directed at the wrong people. Officials in attendance Saturday included Health Minister Pe Thet Khin,Police Chief Kyaw Kyaw Tun and Sagaing Region Chief minister Thar Aye.

“We are now satisfied as they made the apology publicly and legally,” said Shin Wirathu “And it’s pleasing that the ones who had the main responsibility for the crackdown apologized to the injured monks. We acknowledge it as a historic day but it’s a matter of forgive, not forget.”

He added that the officials also promised not to let anything like the crackdown happen again.

According to Shin Wirathu, 34 injured monks and 3 lay people are still at hospitals in Mandalay, and one person was sent to Thailand for medical treatment.

Most of those hurt suffered burns that protesters said were caused by incendiary devices hurled by police.

The crackdown was reminiscent of those the country faced under military rule, which formally ended when an elected government took power last year. It stirred particular anger because of the violence against monks, who are held in high regard in this reverent Buddhist country.

The heavy-handed action indicated the government is still unsure where to draw the line on public protests, even though elected President Thein Sein‘s government has been hailed for releasing hundreds of political prisoners and for implementing laws allowing public demonstrations and labor strikes.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Associated Press

Calls grow for probe into police violence at Myanmar mine.


  • Police pray to Buddhist monks during an apology ceremony at a temple in Monywa December 1, 2012. Riot police fired water cannon and tear gas on Thursday to break up a three-month protest against a copper mining project run by the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd and its partner, a subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacturer China North Industries Corp. Activists said at least 50 people had been injured and 23 were in hospital, some suffering burns from what activists said were incendiary devices hurled by police. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

    Enlarge PhotoReuters/Reuters – Police pray to Buddhist monks during an apology ceremony at a temple in Monywa December 1, 2012. Riot police fired water cannon and tear gas on Thursday to break up a three-month protest against …more 

MONYWA, Myanmar (Reuters) – Buddhist monks marched in Myanmar’s two biggest cities on Saturday to protest at police violence during a crackdown on demonstrators at a copper mine, while Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and a rights group called for an official inquiry.

Activists said at least 50 people had been injured on Thursday, including more than 20 monks who had ended up in hospital, after riot police raided camps set up round the Monywa copper mine by villagers protesting against their forced eviction to make way for an expansion of the project.

Police used tear gas, water cannon and, according to activists, incendiary devices that local media described as “phosphorous bombs”. Many of the injured suffered serious burns.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, called for a speedy, impartial investigation by the government.

“A hospital ward full of horribly burned Buddhist monks and other protesters deserve to know who attacked them while they were sleeping and what the government is going to do about it,” he said.

“The crackdown … is a fundamental test case for the government’s commitment to peaceful assembly and willingness to demand accountability for abuses,” he added.

Myanmar was ruled by a military junta for almost half a century until March 2011, but since then a quasi-civilian government under President Thein Sein has pushed through a series of political and economic reforms, leading Western states to ease sanctions.

Suu Kyi, who led the fight for democracy under the junta and is now a member of parliament, went to the Monywa area in the northwestern region of Sagaing to speak to locals on the day of the police raid. On Friday she also called for an inquiry.

“I think the people have the right to know why such violent measures were taken,” she told a news conference. “I think it is needed to apologies to the monks.”

She said she had called on the authorities to release any monks who had been detained, but had been told there were no arrests.

A police officer in Monywa, who declined to be named, said arrangements were being made for a formal apology but he declined to give further details.

Around 40 monks accompanied by about 60 other people staged a peaceful march around the Sule Pagoda in the commercial capital, Yangon, a focal point for monk-led protests in 2007 that were brutally put down by the junta.

They walked past the offices of the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, a partner in the copper mine project with a unit of China North Industries Corp, a Chinese weapons manufacturer.

At the same time, at least 100 monks demonstrated in the second city, Mandalay.

Rallies have been held at the Monywa copper mine, Myanmar’s biggest, for more than three months and have been seen as a test both of the new regime’s willingness to allow peaceful protest and its attitude to land grabs.

Local residents say the $1 billion mine expansion entails the unlawful confiscation of more than 7,800 acres of land. They told Reuters in September that four of 26 villages at the project site had already been displaced, along with monasteries and schools.

State television said just before the crackdown that all project work had been halted since November 18 as a result of the protests.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun in Yangon; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Soe Zeya Tun | Reuters

Analysis: Myanmar’s Suu Kyi shows pragmatism.


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BANGKOK (AP) — For Aung San Suu Kyi the democracy activist, the 25-year struggle against Myanmar’s former army rulers was a largely black-and-white affair — a clear fight for freedom against one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.

But Suu Kyi the elected lawmaker is finding it a lot more difficult to pick her battles, and she’s a lot more pragmatic when she does.

With the long-ruling junta gone and a reformist government in place, the political prisoner-turned-parliamentarian is now part of a nascent government dealing with a complex transition to democracy — even as she maintains her role as opposition leader.

This week, Suu Kyi moved to settle a dispute that has festered in the northwest for years: controversy over a military-backed copper mine in Letpadaung that has raised environmental concern and forced villagers from their land with little compensation.

Suu Kyi made a two-day trip to the region to hear people’s grievances and try to help mediate a resolution. Hours before she arrived Thursday, security forces launched a brutal crackdown on protesters that was the biggest of its kind since President Thein Sein took office last year.

Police used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs to break up an 11-day occupation of the mine project. Protesters saw their makeshift shelters ablaze. A nurse at a Monywa hospital said 27 monks and one other person were admitted there to be treated for burns.

Addressing a crowd of more than 10,000 people in the nearby town of Monywa on Friday, Suu Kyi criticized security forces but said protesters may have to accept a compromise for the sake of national honor.

Myanmar’s former army junta made past deals without taking into account the wishes of the people, she said, but such commitments must be honored “so that the country’s image will not be hurt.”

A Chinese company is part-owner of the mine, and Beijing previously complained when Myanmar pulled back on a dam project in which China had an interest.

In other comments during her trip to Monywa, Suu Kyi said she would work for the country’s benefit but called on people to be “open-minded.”

“To walk the democratic system is a tough path,” she said. “It’s not straight.”

Though mine protesters may not be satisfied by those words, they at least know that they have Suu Kyi’s attention. The Nobel Peace laureate has gotten less involved in other conflicts.

Since taking her seat in the legislature in April, Suu Kyi has not set foot in northern Kachin state, where a war is raging between rebels and the army that has forced than 75,000 people to flee. She also has yet to visit the western state of Rakhine, where two waves of sectarian violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims has killed nearly 200 people and driven 110,000 people from their homes since June.

Suu Kyi has urged calm in both crises, but she not attempted to mediate, either.

“When entire communities of Rohingya and Muslims were wiped out in the state-backed ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state …. she didn’t even bother to tour the violence-struck” region, said Maung Zarni, a Myanmar expert and visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. “Why not?”

The answer, it seems, is that Suu Kyi has evolved into a pragmatic politician, one who must pursue personal and party goals without upsetting her new relationship with Myanmar’s new power brokers, including Thein Sein. The army still wields enormous power in this Southeast Asian nation, and Suu Kyi has argued she must work with them on the path to national reconciliation.

One of the most prominent signs of Suu Kyi’s pragmatism has been her failure to speak out strongly against what rights groups say is the widespread repression of the Rohingya minority.

Although she has condemned the recent unrest, she has pointedly refused to take sides, saying violence has been committed by both Buddhists and Muslims.

The Rohingya, though, are among the most persecuted people in the world, largely denied citizenship by Myanmar and rejected by Bangladesh. They have borne the brunt of the recent violence, which Zarni and others argue is part of an effort by ethnic Rakhine to drive Muslims out of the state. The vast majority of the 110,000 displaced are Rohingya, many of whom lost homes in arson attacks.

But Suu Kyi is well aware of her movement’s desire to sweep national elections in 2015. The Rohingya are a deeply unpopular cause, and standing up for them is politically risky in a predominantly Buddhist nation where they are widely denigrated as foreigners from Bangladesh, even though many have lived in Myanmar for generations.

In April, Suu Kyi got a taste of the new political world she was entering shortly after her National League for Democracy party won almost all of the several dozen seats up for grabs in the country’s historic by-election.

Before taking their seats in the legislature, Suu Kyi’s party got embroiled in a major dispute over what they called the undemocratic wording of the oath of office. The party defiantly declared it would not take its seats until the phrasing was changed.

After a weeklong stalemate, Suu Kyi announced they would take the oath anyway and take their seats in a legislature where a quarter of seats are controlled by the army and most of the rest are occupied by retired military officers.

“Politics is an issue of give and take,” Suu Kyi said. “We are not giving up. We are just yielding to the aspirations of the people.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By By TODD PITMAN | Associated Press

Suu Kyi decries crackdown that injured protesters.


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MONYWA, Myanmar (AP) — Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyipublicly criticized the forcible crackdown on protesters at a mine in northwestern Myanmar and said Friday that the public needed an explanation of the violence that injured dozens, including Buddhist monks.

At the same time, she indicated in her speech to villagers that the protesters may have to accept a compromise for the sake of national honor.

Now serving in parliament after years as a political prisoner of the long-ruling junta, Suu Kyi received a hero’s welcome in the town of Monywa, where residents were rattled by the government’s biggest crackdown on demonstrations since reformist President Thein Seintook office last year.

She was scheduled to visit the area before the crackdown to hear the protesters’ grievances and said she would try to negotiate or mediate in the conflict over the mine, which protesters say is causing environmental and social problems.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 10,000, Suu Kyi made the point she did not want confrontation but said people had the right to ask why the authorities cracked down so harshly on the non-violent protesters.

“I want to ask, ‘What was their purpose of doing this?’ Frankly, there’s no need to act like this,” she said, and people in the crowd shouted back: “Right!”

“I’m not saying this to agitate people,” she continued. “I never persuade people by agitating. I explain to people so that they can decide by thinking.”

Activists and Buddhist monks who contend the Letpadaung copper mine is causing environmental and social problems had occupied the mine for 11 days before police used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs to break up the protest early Thursday.

Weapons that protesters described as flare guns caused severe burns to protesters and set shelters ablaze. A nurse at a Monywa hospital said 27 monks and one other person were admitted there to be treated for burns.

Suu Kyi visited with injured protesters Thursday, as well as meeting with mining company officials and local activists. She was to meet security officials Friday.

She has taken a soft line on the conflict over the project, noting that many people asked her to help stop the project at once, but saying she did not know details of the original contract and a parliamentary investigating committee had yet to do its work.

She went on to suggest that Myanmar should honor the contracts establishing the project, especially since they involved a neighboring country. The mine is a joint venture between a military-controlled holding company and a Chinese mining company.

She said the deals were done under the previous military regime without taking into account the wishes of the people, and “We are suffering as a result of these,” but that Myanmar should honor its commitments nonetheless.

She said that even in some cases where the people’s interest was not taken into account, the agreement should be followed “so that the country’s image will not be hurt.”

“You can’t decide that you can’t keep the promise that you didn’t give,” she said.

The government’s position is similar, with senior officials publicly stating that that the protesters’ demands to stop operating the mine risked scaring off foreign investment in Myanmar’s long-neglected economy.

Although she is head of the parliamentary opposition, Suu Kyi has usually counseled moderation in problematic issues.

The protest is the latest major example of increased activism by citizens since the elected government took over last year. Street demonstrations have been legalized, and are generally tolerated, though detentions have occurred in sensitive cases.

Political and economic liberalization under Thein Sein has won praise from Western governments, which have eased sanctions imposed on the previous military government because of its poor record on human and civil rights.

However, the military’s position in Myanmar’s government remains strong, and some critics fear that democratic gains could be temporary.

The mine is a joint venture between China’s Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd. and the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd., and most people here remain suspicious of the military and see China as an aggressive and exploitive investor that helped support its rule.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By By YADANA HTUN | Associated Press

Myanmar cracks down on mine protest; dozens hurt.


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MONYWA, Myanmar (AP) — Security forces used water cannonsand other riot gear Thursday to clear protesters from a copper mine in in northwestern Myanmar, wounding villagers andBuddhist monks just hours before opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in the area to hear their grievances.

The crackdown at the Letpadaung mine near the town of Monywa risks becoming a public relations and political fiasco for thereformist government of President Thein Sein, which has been touting its transition to democracy after almost five decades of repressive military rule.

The environmental and social damage allegedly produced by the mine has become a popular cause in activist circles, but was not yet a matter of broad public concern. However, hurting monks — as admired for their social activism as they are revered for their spiritual beliefs — is sure to antagonize many ordinary people, especially as Suu Kyi’s visit highlights the events.

“This is unacceptable,” said Ottama Thara, a 25-year-old monk who was at the protest. “This kind of violence should not happen under a government that says it is committed to democratic reforms.”

According to a nurse at a Monywa hospital, 27 monks and one other person were admitted with burns caused by some sort of projectile that released sparks or embers. Two of the monks with serious injuries were sent for treatment in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second biggest city, a 2½ hour drive away. Other evicted protesters gathered at a Buddhist temple about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the mine’s gates.

Lending further sympathy to the protesters’ cause is whom they are fighting against. The mining operation is a joint venture between a Chinese company and a holding company controlled by Myanmar’s military. Most people remain suspicious of the military, while China is widely seen as having propped up army rule for years, in addition to being an aggressive investor exploiting the country’s many natural resources.

Government officials had publicly stated that the protest risked scaring off foreign investment that is key to building the economy after decades of neglect.

State television had broadcast an announcement Tuesday night that ordered protesters to cease their occupation of the mine by midnight or face legal action. It said operations at the mine had been halted since Nov. 18, after protesters occupied the area.

Some villagers among a claimed 1,000 protesters left the six encampments they had at the mine after the order was issued. But others stayed through Wednesday, including about 100 monks.

Police moved in to disperse them early Thursday.

“Around 2:30 a.m. police announced they would give us five minutes to leave,” said protester Aung Myint Htway, a peanut farmer whose face and body were covered with black patches of burned skin. He said police fired water cannons first and then shot what he and others called flare guns.

“They fired black balls that exploded into fire sparks. They shot about six times. People ran away and they followed us,” he said, still writhing hours later from pain. “It’s very hot.”

Photos of the wounded monks showed they had sustained serious burns on parts of their bodies. It was unclear what sort of weapon caused them, or whether the burns were caused by their shelters catching fire.

“I didn’t expect to be treated like this, as we were peacefully protesting,” said Aung Myint Htway, adding that he didn’t care that police treated him badly but that it was an unforgiveable insult to religion that monks were attacked.

The protest is the latest major example of increased activism by citizens since the elected government took over last year. Political and economic liberalization under Thein Sein has won praise from Western governments, which have eased sanctions imposed on the previous military government because of its poor record on human and civil rights. However, the military still retains major influence over the government, and some critics fear that democratic gains could easily be rolled back.

In Myanmar’s main city of Yangon, six anti-mine activists who staged a small protest were detained Monday and Tuesday, said one of their colleagues, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to attract attention from the authorities.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By By YADANA HTUN | Associated Press

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