03/16/2015, 00.00
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Myanmar, Buddhist monks sue Interior Ministry over 2012 violence

The religious have sued Gen. Ko Ko, for having ordered "illegal police action". To disperse protesters against a Sino-Burmese copper mine, police used smoke bombs and rockets containing phosphorus gas. At least 57 monks were seriously injured. Last December, a farmer killed during another protest.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Buddhist monks who were the victims of violent repression by the authorities for protesting against a Sino-Burmese copper mine in November 2012 have filed a suit against Myanmar's Interior Minister.

At the time the police intervened with an iron fist to quell demonstrations, causing serious burns and deep wounds among the religious. Interviewed by AsiaNews, a Catholic activist had called the story "the true face" of the change in the country.

More than 100 Buddhist monks suffered injuries and burns of different degrees, due to the use by law enforcement of smoke bombs and incendiary rockets containing phosphorus. The agents had intervened to disperse the crowd - farmers and religious - demonstrating against the Wanbao Mining Copper, source of damage to the environment and local population.

The copper mine is located not far from the town of Monywa, Sagaing region, in central Myanmar, and is the largest in the country. The quarry is owned by the Myanmar Wanabo Copper Mining - part of the state-owned Chinese giant China North Industries Corp. (Norinco) - and operates in partnership with the Burmese Ministry of Mines and an industry close to the military leadership.

Justice Trust, a human rights group active in Myanmar for the promotion of the rule of law, has decided to support the monks in their legal battle against the government. The motion states that the lawsuit concerns the Minister of the Interior General Ko Ko, accused of ordering  "an illegal police action".

In the attack several protesters were burned by a "mysterious gas". At least 57 monks have had to resort to long-term medical care in order to alleviate, at least in part, the effects of phosphorus on their skin.

The November 2012 protests provoked a great response from the international community and unanimous convictions of activists and pro-human rights organizations. Last December a farmer was shot dead during a confrontation with police and Chinese mine workers, who had previously erected a fence in an area disputed by villagers.


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