Myanmar cracks down on mine protest; dozens hurt
MONYWA, Myanmar (AP) – Security forces cracked down on protesters occupying a copper mine early Thursday, using water cannons and other devices to break up the rally hours before opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was expected to hear their grievances.
Unexplained fires engulfed the protest camps at the Letpadaung mine in northwestern Myanmar and dozens of Buddhist monks and villagers were injured, according to several protesters. Those who fled the site emerged with burns and charred clothing on their bodies.
“Around 2:30 a.m. police announced they would give us 5 minutes to leave,” said protester Aung Myint Htway, a peanut farmer whose face and body was covered with black spots where his skin was burned. He said police fired water cannons first and then fired from what he and others called flare guns.
“They fired black balls that exploded into fire sparks. They shot about six times. People ran away and they followed us,” he said, still writhing hours later from pain. “It’s very hot.” The government ordered protesters earlier this week to evacuate the mine by Wednesday or face legal action.