Myanmar activist jailed for copper mine protest

August 31, 2013 - 2:51:40 am

YANGON: Myanmar has jailed an activist for two years in connection with protests over a controversial mine project, her lawyer said yesterday, despite the regime’s pledge to free all political prisoners.

Naw Ohn Hla, 49, was convicted on Thursday for public order offences in the town of Monywa, where the Chinese-backed Letpadaung mine has triggered fierce opposition from local villagers.

The activist, who has been arrested a number of times in the past for her activities, was detained on August 13 after her request to stage a protest was denied, her lawyer Robert San Aung said.

Rights campaigners have expressed concern at the continuing arrest of activists opposed to the mine in recent months, despite a pledge by reformist President Thein Sein to free all political detainees by the end of this year.

A botched raid on a protest at the copper mine last November sparked an outpouring of anger after police used phosphorus against demonstrators, in the harshest crackdown since the end of military rule.

In July this year officials said the terms of the mine deal with Chinese firm Wanbao had been revised, in an apparent attempt to assuage public anger by giving the nation a share of the profits.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, recommended that the mine be allowed to go ahead, despite concerns over its environmental impact and land-grabbing.