On Tuesday, nearly one-thousand protesters destroyed huts at a Chinese mine during a demonstration against it in Mansi Township, Bhamo District.
“We want the workers and security personnel of the Chinese company to leave the rare earth mine but they told us they live there with permission from the KIO (Kachin Independence Organisation),” a member of the Anti-rare Earth Movement Committee told KNG.
The man said they tried to negotiate with them and when they refused to leave the N’ba Pa and Dingsing Pa mining site in in Kachin State, they destroyed their huts.
The angry villagers have also repeatedly sent letters to the KIO asking them to stop the mine by February, but the mine continues to operate.
“After the KIO and the companies failed to sign an agreement to leave the rare earth mining area, the locals lost their patience and destroyed all the huts. We’re waiting to see their reaction,” says a man from Dingsing Pa, who is also part of the committee.
Residents have been protesting against the mine since mid-December, after the KIO granted permission to Chinese companies to operate in the area, which is an historical site they fear will be destroyed.
After the KIO failed to respond to calls to stop mining in the area, some of the families whose relatives serve in the KIO and its military wing, the Kachin Independence Army, were called home on 20 March.
The Kachin armed group fighting the regime has also allowed companies from China to mine rare earths in N’ba Pa, Dingsing Pa, Dingsing Bum, Hka Para, N’jun Bum, Fai Dang, Daron, Hka-U and Jangmai Hpetgum areas of Mansi Township in Bhamo District.