Aung San Suu Kyi support for copper mine outrages Burmese activists (Associated Press in Rangoon/The Guardian – March 12, 2013)

Report commissioned after police crackdown on protesters says near-$1bn joint venture mine with Chinese firm should continue

Opponents of a copper mine worth nearly $1bn in north-western Burma have expressed outrage over a government-ordered report that said the project should continue and that refrained from demanding punishment for police involved in a violent crackdown on protesters.

The opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, chaired the investigation commission behind the report, which was released late on Monday night. It could pose a problem for Aung San Suu Kyi by identifying her with the government’s pro-growth policies against the interests of the grassroots people’s movements.

President Thein Sein appointed the commission after police cracked down on protesters at the Letpadaung mine on 29 November, leaving scores in hospital with serious burns.

Thwe Thwe Win, a protest leader, said on Tuesday that demonstrations would resume. “I am very dissatisfied and it is unacceptable,” she said. “There is no clause that will punish anyone who had ordered the violent crackdown. Action should be taken against the person who gave the order.”

Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to travel to the mine area, in the town of Monywa, 450 miles north of Rangoon, to meet the protesters on Wednesday.

Activists say the mine, a joint venture between China’s Wan Bao mining company and a Burmese military conglomerate, causes environmental, social and health problems and should be shut down.

The report said the operation should not be halted, even though it acknowledged that the mine lacked strong environmental protection measures and would not create more jobs for local people. The report said scrapping the mine could create tension with China and could discourage much-needed foreign investment.

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