Burma: Monywa mine protest leads to clashes with police

Farmers protesting outside the main entrance to the Wanbao mine camp in Monywa, Burma, November 2012 Protests against the mine first broke out in November

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Seven policemen and three protesters have been injured in a second day of demonstrations by villagers against a Chinese-backed copper mine in north-western Burma, officials say.

The protesters say that they are been forced to give up the land for the mine to expand.

The clashes on Thursday began when about 100 villagers tried to cultivate the land and were confronted by police.

Dozens of people were injured in similar protests in November.

The mine at Monywa is jointly owned by a Chinese company and Myanmar Economic Holdings, owned by the Burmese military.

Correspondents say that most farmers in 26 villages surrounding the plant who were told to surrender about 3,000 hectares of land have accepted compensation. But some have not, and they staged sit-ins on Wednesday and Thursday.

Officials say that the demonstrators on Thursday were confronted by about 400 policemen. Three protesters were injured and taken to hospital, including one man who was shot in the leg.

Chemical burns

During the protests at the end of last year, villagers - supported by activists and Buddhist monks - took part in months of sit-ins.

An official parliamentary report in Burma last month found that police had used smoke bombs containing phosphorus during the protests against the mine.

The panel, led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said protesters had suffered "unnecessary burns" - contradicting police reports that they only used tear gas and water cannon against the protesters.

The report recommended work on the mine continue, however, despite opposition, and refrained from demanding punishment for police officers involved in the violence.

Correspondents said that the findings posed a problem for Ms Suu Kyi because they identified her with government pro-growth policies rather than grassroots people's movements.

A separate report in February compiled by Burmese lawyers and the US-based Justice Trust also accused police of using military-issue white phosphorus grenades to disperse protesters.

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