The Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter companies are continuing their coal-mining operations in Mong Kung, despite an agreement to move out of the area by May 13.
Signboard saying “No Entry Permission” at the Mong Kung coalmine entrance.
On April 11, more than 4,000 Mong Kung’s residents staged a protest against the coalmine operations. Two days later, company representatives met with local community leaders and pledged to cease all mining activities.
“They didn’t keep to the agreement. They are still there,” said Sao Ekka Sina, a Buddhist monk who was one of the demonstration organizers. “They now have RCSS soldiers guarding the site.”
Speaking to Shan Herald today by telephone, he said, “So, yesterday we went to meet their manager, Okka Kyaw Thu, to discuss this issue. He simply told us that they will not move out.
“Now they have erected fences, which have warnings written in both Shan and Burmese languages, saying: “Outsiders may not enter.”
General Yawd Serk, the chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), spoke out on the matter during a Shan National Day speech on February 7, saying that for any such operation to proceed, it needs the support of the local people.
Monk and protest organizer Sao Ekka Sina said that if the two mining firms insist on continuing their operations, the residents of Mong Kung will continue protesting and holding demonstrations.
He said that the next rally will be “huge,” with youth groups from across Shan State invited to attend.
Coal-mining site in Mong Kung Township, southern Shan State
“We will continue to protest,” he said. “If we don’t, all our paddy fields near the mining site will be destroyed.”
Sai Long, an MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) representing Mong Kung Township Constituency No. 2, said he is following the situation closely.
“The monks are investigating the case, and if the order [to continue mining operations] came from local authorities, the protesters will talk with them,” he said. “If the order is from [RCSS headquarters] Loi Tai Leng, they will go and talk to the leader there.”
The Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter companies were granted permission by the central government in Naypyidaw in 2014 to launch coal-mining projects in Mong Kung Township, which is in Loilem district, southern Shan State. But the mines were soon suspended after growing opposition from local residents. They restarted operations again in January this year.
The coal-mining operations would cause irreparable damage to 2,000 acres of land, including conifer forests, mountains and farmland, said local sources.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)
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