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TOP 10 Events of 2012—No 7


Mzine-nov
Mizzima’s
sister publication, M-Zine+, has selected what its editors have decided are the 10 biggest events or issues in Burma over the past 12 months.

We began the countdown on December 22 at No. 10, and will recall one issue each day until we finish on December 31 with the most momentous event of the year.

No rest for the little elves at www.mizzima.com, we will be working all the way through Xmas and New Year, bringing you the latest and most accurate news from Burma.


7. Police react with force at the Latpadaung mining site

A fire burns in a protest camp after riot police had moved in to disperse a group of protesters at the Monywa copper mine site in Sagaing Division early on the morning of November 29. (PHOTO: AFP)
A fire burns in a protest camp after riot police had moved in to disperse a group of protesters at the Monywa copper mine site in Sagaing Division early on the morning of November 29. (PHOTO: AFP) 
The coming decades—if perspectives that range from those of serious think tanks to academic and media alarmists is correct—will be punctuated by resource wars as countries scour the globe to lock up enough supplies to fuel expanding economies or to keep them humming at acceptable rates in the face of declining production outputs hemmed in by finite reserves.

Wars have their skirmishes, and if in fact this is what is happening now at Latpadaung near Monywa—site of a copper mine run by Chinese state-run firm Wanbao in partnership with a Myanmar military-owned entity—they recently achieved a violent expression. One dramatically visible consequence of the skirmish saw badly burned monks ending up in hospital.

Other important issues form part of the backdrop to this large-scale display of local disaffection. There’s the scale of the military’s involvement in the economy. One elephant in the room, and not just near the mine, is the land tenure issue, something that caused population dislocations in the colonial era when land was alienated and has the potential to do the same in the coming months and years.

In addition, observers will no doubt point out the irony of a China whose Maoist forebears were all too quick to assign charges of “imperialism” and “hegemonism” to others, now having to deal with a more critical finger pointed in their direction for many of the same reasons.

Mining is not a gentle activity and copper mining produces its fair share of toxic residues. Some local people also feed off the mining tailings to survive—something not conducive to long-term health.

Here, as at other resource extractive or hydropower sites and not just in Myanmar, there are conflicting views of costs and benefits. What may be seen as benefiting the country as a whole—sometimes referred to as “the greater common good—through increased revenues or accelerated economic development, may not look so rosy to those living next door or on top of these projects as the smoke belches through the windows or water floods the land.

Power politics matters and the local people at Latpadaung may have less support than they might have thought, if stopping the project remains a serious goal for many.

Burma’s opposition leader has used the term “national honor” in saying the project may well have to continue. It doesn’t look as though there will be another Myitsone-like backdown.

Nonetheless, how this issue and others like it are resolved will say something important about the level of national consensus as Burma braces for more changes.


For more background:

http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/8577-govt-apologizes-to-buddhist-monks-for-monywa-incident.html

http://www.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/8471-80-injured-in-monywa-crackdown.html


M-ZINE+ is a business weekly available in print in Yangon through Innwa Bookstore and through online subscription at www.Mzineplus.com.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 December 2012 12:20 )  

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