Shells containing white phosphorus were used to disperse Letpadaung protesters, causing burns, investigation finds
© Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images
A Buddhist monk who was injured in the crackdown at the Letpadaung copper mine.
Activists in Burma have demanded action against officials who were responsible for the use of incendiary weapons against peaceful protesters at a copper mine, causing serious burns to dozens of people including Buddhist monks.
Lawyers and others who investigated the crackdown at the Letpadaung copper mine in November said President Thein Sein must share responsibility and ensure justice was achieved.
Launching a report on the incident, they said police used shells containing white phosphorus, an incendiary munition, to disperse the protesters. White phosphorus can be used legally in some battlefield conditions, but activists say it should not be deployed against civilians.
Authorities have acknowledged using teargas and smoke grenades. The incident involved the biggest use of force against protesters in Burma since Thein Sein's government took office in March 2011 after almost five decades of repressive military rule.
Protesters say the mine project, a joint venture between a Chinese mining firm and a military-owned holding company, causes environmental, social and health problems.
The report was compiled by Lawyers Network, an independent association of leading Burmese lawyers, and Justice Trust, an international group engaged in supporting the rule of law and human rights.
Thwe Thwe Win, an activist from a village near the mine, said villagers would not take further action until a commission headed by the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi issued its own report on the project and the crackdown. If it did not call for ending the project, they would resume protesting, she said.