Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tatmadaw to continue clearing out illegal mines in Tanai and Hpakant


The Tatmadaw needs to continue military operations in Tanai and Hpakant in Kachin State to bring peace, order and stability in the area and put an end to illegal amber and gold mining, according to a proposal of three Tatmadaw MPs to the Pyithu Hluttaw.

Lieutenant Colonel Soe Myint Aung pointed out that without peace, stabillity and rule of law at those mines, they cannot become legal businesses.

“There are questions about how Union Government and State Government will legalize those illegal armed and lawless activities in the area. Who will take care of security,” he said.

Soe Myint Aung also noted that the ethnic armed group Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is also into gold mining in the area using illegal migrant workers, without the permission from the Union Government.

“KIA gets K2.80 billion per year according to local source. They do nothing for regional development, the money does not benefit the State,” he said.

Tanai Constituency MP U Lin Lin Oo noted that due to the clearing operation by Tatmadaw, local people have suffered and it would be better if in future the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the State government should deal with illegal mining and illegal migrant workers.

But he noted that the mining areas are controlled by the KIA.

Minkin Constituency MP U Maung Myint said that local police and administration cannot clear about 700,000 illegal miners there.

“From resources’ point of view, it is not wrong that the Tatmadaw has to take care of the security there. I noticed that Tatmadaw’s entry means we do not want illegal mining to continue in the area,” he said.

“Can it be said that the situation is calm when extortion money has been given to KIA. I dare say if there were no Tatmadaw personnel, all the people in Tanai would have given extortion money to KIA,” he added.

“Tatmadaw is helping the government clear out illegal mines in accordance with the authority vested in it by the Constitution,” Tatmadaw MP Lieutenant Colonel Khin Maung Swe said.

Mokaung Constituency MP U Win Naing and Phaungpyin Constituency MP U Tun Wai supported the proposal by saying people have been losing properties when they flee their homes to escape the violence in the area. Children could not go to schools. There were about 1000 people displaced by the recent fighting, U Win Naing said.

Myitkyina Constituency MP U In Htone Kha Naw Sam said the Union government will find it difficult to control illegal mining in Kachin State because the region is not peaceful.

“The problem is ethnic armed groups think that they own the resources in their areas.” he said.

U Ohn Win, minister for natural resources and environmental conservation, said there are restrictions in taking action against illegal miners due to armed ethnic groups but if authority is given to Kachin Government, illegal mining may be reduced.

“If the Kachin Government is allowed to approve small scale gem and amber mining, illegal mining can be prevented and the Ministry will cooperate with Kachin State Government and I would like to request that the proposal is approved.”

The proposal was approved without objection, but Lieutenant Colonel Soe Myint Aung said the Tatmadaw will take action in accordance with the law to protect natural resources.

“The Tatmadaw is performing its duties prescribed in the Constitution without awaiting an order to protect the nation’s natural resources and environment, and the Tatmadaw will continue to perform its duty in line with the law.” he said.