Suu Kyi-led report finds police used phosphorus in mine crackdown

AFP-JIJI

Myanmar police used phosphorus in a crackdown on a rally against a copper mine last year, injuring dozens of protesters including monks, a parliamentary report led by Aung San Suu Kyi said Tuesday.

The probe on the November clampdown, the most violent since the reformist regime took power in early 2011, called for reform of authorities’ riot control methods after more than 100 people were hurt.

Injuries sustained by monks and civilians caused a wave of outrage across Myanmar, sparking further protests and leading to an official apology to senior clerics.

The report found “unexpected and unnecessary burns” were inflicted as “the police used smoke bombs without knowing what their effect would be,” adding that the devices contained phosphorus, which “can cause fire when they explode.”

However, the report led by the opposition leader backed continued work at the controversial Chinese-backed mine in Monywa, northern Myanmar, despite conceding that it only brought “slight” benefits to the country.

The recommendation is likely to anger local people who have mounted fierce opposition to the project — a joint venture between Chinese firm Wanbao and military-owned Myanmar Economic Holding — over environmental concerns and allegations of land grabbing.

Suu Kyi was due Wednesday to visit the mine and a number of nearby villages and “might spend a night in Monywa town to meet with local people there,” a member of her security staff said, requesting anonymity.