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Monks Rally Across Myanmar Over Mine Crackdown
Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1242416/1/.html
Source Date: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Country: Myanmar
Created: Dec 12, 2012

YANGON: Hundreds of monks staged demonstrations across Myanmar Wednesday demanding further apologies for injuries sustained in a police crackdown on a protest at a Chinese-backed copper mine last month.

Around 500 maroon-robed monks walked through the streets of Yangon reciting Buddhist verses, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, in the latest display of public discontent over the incident at the mine in Monywa, northern Myanmar.

Hundreds more marched in the country's second-biggest city Mandalay and in Monywa, local witnesses said, asking the government to apologise to dozens of monks who suffered injuries, including severe burns, in the pre-dawn raid on protest camps at the mine in November.

"We want them to apologise to the monks who were burnt during the crackdown at the Latpadaung mountain copper mine," Thuzana, a protest leader who gave only one name, told AFP.

Last week Religious Affairs Minister Myint Maung apologised to some of the country's most senior clerics, saying the incident, in which at least 99 monks and 11 others were hurt, was a "great grief" to the government, state media reported.

About 100 police also apologised to a group of monks in Monywa soon after the crackdown.

But the efforts have failed to dampen anger over the raid, the toughest clampdown on demonstrators since a reformist government came to power last year, and there has been a string of protests in recent weeks.

Thuzana said protesters want authorities to apologise directly to those injured.

"If the government does not respond, we have plans to react accordingly," he added.

Photographs of the protesters' injuries have stirred outcry across Myanmar, reminding the public of brutal junta-era security tactics including the notorious crackdown on mass monk-led rallies in 2007 known as the "Saffron Revolution".

The dispute at the Monywa mine centres on allegations of mass evictions and environmental damage caused by the project -- a joint venture between Chinese firm Wanbao and military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings.

Activists are calling for work at the project to be suspended to allow impact studies to be carried out, but China insists that the contentious points have already been resolved.

Eight people arrested in connection with protests against the mine in recent weeks were released on bail on Tuesday.

- AFP/lp
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