The Kachin are resisting the expansion of gold mining in historic N’Dum Latep, an area in Putao Township where the ethnic group is believed to have first migrated into Kachin and northern Shan States from Majoi Shingra Bum (naturally flat mountain), now possible part of eastern Tibet.
Two investors, Hkaw Thar and Kyaw Zin Min, have been mining on 10 acres in the area since late 2021. And now the regime wants to open it up to 20 more investors who want to mine the precious metal on 2,000 acres as early as November.
“They’re already sending their machines and tools to the mining area,” a local man who’s knowledgeable about the situation told KNG on condition of anonymity.
A man from one of ten villages that had gathered on 15 and 16 October to protest against the mining said they would sue the companies if they refuse to listen to the people’s concerns.
“Our ancestors lived in this region many years ago, which is of great historical significance to us. As Kachin people, we do not want this place to disappear. No one should be allowed to mine gold here.”
The Jinghpaw Literature and Cultural Association for Putao Township coordinated the demonstration against the mining, where participants carried signs that said “No one should cut down trees in the historic Kachin region of N’Dum Latep”, “No one should mine gold” and “Stop the invasion”.
Villages joining the protest included Lon Suit, Kawng Kahtawng, Lon Shar Yang, Sumpium, Nawng Kai, Hpert Mer, Lon Ga Kawng, Lang Dau, Rapbot and Nam Bu Yang.
Some people from Lang Dau village tract, which is part of N’Dum Latep region, have been living in an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Putao town since fleeing fighting between the Burma Army (BA) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in 2013-14. After it became clear that it wasn’t safe for these people to return home, the Kachin Baptist Convention resettled them to Si Dam, a village about 13 miles from the town.
An IDP told the KNG that after the military coup, both the BA and the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), allowed investors to mine gold on their land.
“Businessmen have taken the political crisis in the country as an opportunity. Both the military regime and the KIO have given them permission…I think they’ll continue to mine gold here even though we oppose it, and the IDPs will sell their land to them.”
Under the Aung San Suu Kyi government, businessmen tried to mine gold in the area in 2019, but the government stopped it after the people protested.