October 22, 2017
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Villagers demand Suu Kyi to take responsibility of Inquiry Report Implementing Committee's actions

Women work in farmlands near the Letpadaung copper mine project . Photo: Mizzima

Villagers from 26 villages in Letpadaung copper mine project area issued a statement on August 3, demanding Aung San Suu Kyi to take responsibility for work undertaken by the Inquiry Report Implementing Committee.

In their demand, the villagers said that since Aung San Suu Kyi led the Inquiry Commission, she should be held accountable for the Report Implementing Committee's actions and ensure that they work properly in carrying out the recommendations made in this report.

The statement was issued on August 3 after a forum attended by villagers from 26 villages, monks, activists and members of political parties. The statement has 9-point demands, including demands made directly to Aung San Suu Kyi. One of the demands in this statement says that the village clinic in Kangone village has completed ground breaking work only. The construction work has not finished yet so the authorities should fulfill their commitment in good faith and goodwill instead of mere token work to console the villagers. They also demanded that immediate action should be taken up to ensure waste from the copper mine project is not dumped into farmlands and residential areas

Moreover, the villagers have protested against the compensation paid for the farmlands that was seized for the project from the villagers at the rate prescribed by the Commission. They are contrary to the recommendation in this report, which is to pay compensation at ‘the appropriate market price'. The villagers urged the authorities concerned to consult them to ascertain the appropriate rate.

Thwe Thwe Win from Wet Hmay village said, “We cannot survive with their compensation of 1 million kyats (about $1000) per acre. The villagers who accepted the compensation are those whose farmlands had been absolutely damaged due to industrial waste and earth that were dumped on it. They cannot grow anything on these farmlands anymore. But for the rest of the villagers, the farmlands are fertile enough to grow three crops a year. So we cannot accept the rate of 1 million kyats per acre. The compensation should be an adequate amount for our survival.”

The Union Government assigned Presidential Office Union Minister Hla Tun to serve as Chairman in the Letpadaung copper mine Inquiry Commission Report Implementing Committee. The Inquiry Commission was led by Aung San Suu Kyi. On July 25, Union Minister Hla Tun said in the Parliament that Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social
Impact Assessment (SIA) reports would be ready and released in September, 2013.

At the presentation in the Parliament regarding compensation paid for farmlands grabbed for the Letpadaung copper mine project, Union Minister Hla Thein said that a total compensation of 3 billion kyats (about $3million) had been paid to the villagers. However, 60% of the total farmlands grabbed had not been paid as the negotiation with the villagers is yet be completed.

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