Yangon - A protest by villagers evicted from land near a
Chinese-backed mine was violently quelled by police Thursday, activists said,
in an echo of a crackdown at the flashpoint site last year.
Farmers attempting to plough land seized to make way for
the mine clashed with police protecting the site, according to Ba Htoo, an
environmental activist speaking to AFP from the scene in Monywa, central
"About 200 police asked the villagers - who went to
farmland in the copper mine area - to stop... police said the area was
"There were some clashes between the police and
villagers," he said, adding one villager was shot and more than two dozen
others hurt by police batons.
It was unclear if the police used real or rubber bullets.
A monk who is an activist in a village near the
Letpadaung mine confirmed villagers were injured - although he was not at the
scene - explaining some farmers who refused compensation went to reclaim their
"They tried to farm the land with their cows and
carts. The police stopped them and there were clashes," the monk, called
Nandasarya, told AFP, adding at least one villager received gunshot wounds.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has urged
villagers in the area to accept compensation for their land, following a probe
into a brutal crackdown on protest at the mine last year.
The Nobel laureate, who is normally venerated around the
country, was in March heckled by villagers enraged by her recommendation that
the copper mine continue to operate, despite concerns over its environmental
impact and land grabbing.
Suu Kyi's report to parliament last month said police
used phosphorus against demonstrators at the mine in November in the harshest
crackdown on protesters since the end of military rule.
However, the probe into the clampdown, which left dozens
wounded including monks, recommended the mine project should not be scrapped,
despite conceding it only brought "slight" benefits to the nation.
Since decades of brutal junta rule ended two years ago,
Myanmar has seen protests against land grabbing as disgruntled rural people
test the boundaries of their freedom to demonstrate under a reform-minded