Kachin civil society organizations (CSOs) questioned the conditions leading to the senseless deaths of jade miners during last week’s tragic incident at the Hpakant jade mines in Burma’s Kachin State. CSOs created a Facebook group to raise attention to the need for clear regulations to prevent these kinds of accidents from happening ever again.
“Our aim is to have a comprehensive law and to make people aware of the deterioration of our natural environment,” says Ko Myo Aung, from one of the CSOs. The government needs to listen to the people, he says, and take the necessary steps to stop the suffering.
One of the Facebook group’s first posts says that “Jade Land is a licensed death ground” and called to “immediately stop exploiting the natural resources.”
Jade Land refers to the Hpakant jade mines. The site of the richest jade deposits of its kind in the world. Revenues generated from jade mining in Burma are estimated at over $30 billion annually, 70 percent of the world’s jade.
Sut Seng Htoi, one of the coalition’s leaders, told KNG the “environment is completely damaged” and everyone needs to be made aware “there are more negative impacts than benefits” associated with the Hpakant jade mines.
Other posts said to “stop the licensed death ground”; stop man-made disaster; and stop abuses on natural resources.”
There were 174 people who died after the side of a mountain at Gwi Hka jade mine collapsed into a pit, creating a giant wave of water that swept them away.
Ohn Win, minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, said the people died because they were greedy. He headed a special committee that arrived at the site of last week’s landslide to investigate.
The Burma Army launched its own investigation into the accident. The military’s True News Information Team reported that charges were laid against Col Thura Myo Tin, minister of Security and Border Affairs, and a high ranking military officer, responsible for security for the area.