Myanmar police raid copper mine protest camp | News | DW | 29.11.2012
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Myanmar police raid copper mine protest camp

Protestors at a copper mine in Myanmar have been evicted by police using tear gas and water cannon. The raid preceded a scheduled visit by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A severely burnt Buddhist monk (C) receives treatment at a hospital after police fired water cannon and gas during a pre-dawn crackdown on villagers and monks protesting against a Chinese-backed copper mine, in Monywa northern Myanmar on November 29, 2012. Dozens were injured, activists said, when police broke up the demonstration which is the latest example of long-oppressed Myanmar citizens testing the limits of their new freedoms after the end last year of decades of authoritarian junta rule that saw protests routinely stamped out. AFP PHOTO / J MAUNG MAUNG (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Birma Protest Mind Bergwerk Polizei Gewalt Auflösung Buddhist Mönch Krankenhaus Kupfermine Monywa Myanmar

The raids came in the early hours of Thursday morning as the protesters, who have lived in a protest camp in the northern town of Monywa for several weeks, were sleeping in tents.

According to witness accounts, several truckloads of police arrived and began firing water cannons at the protesters.

Watch video 01:16

Burma: Protestors evicted violently

Around 50 Buddhist monks were taking part in the protest, and most of the 20 to 30 injuries reported were suffered by the monks. One of the monks, who suffered burn wounds, is pictured above.

Some of the monks reported that canisters fired by police had caused fires in the camp.

The mine is jointly owned by Myanmar's military and a Chinese copper company. The protesters alleged that the land for the mine was illegally confiscated from villagers and polluted. They are demanding that the company release environmental and social impact studies.

Protesters at the mine had been warned in advanced to clear out of the area, and many followed those orders. Those who stayed faced the police water cannons.

Such protests would have been unheard of as recently as 2010, when the deal was signed by the mine's owners.

President Thein Sein has implemented a series of gradual democratic reforms since last year that have included allowing protests. Under the former military junta in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, protests were quickly quelled.

Thursday's early-morning raid came a few hours ahead of a scheduled visit by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had planned to speak to the demonstrators.

mz/ipj (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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