UPDATE 1-Myanmar govt asks Suu Kyi to investigate mine dispute

Sat Dec 1, 2012 10:03am EST
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By Soe Zeya Tun

MONYWA, Myanmar Dec 1 (Reuters) - Myanmar's president asked opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday to head an investigation into the planned expansion of a copper mine that has led to evictions and protests that were forcibly put down by riot police this week.

Activists said at least 50 people were injured on Thursday, including more than 20 Buddhist monks, after riot police raided camps set up round the Monywa mine in the north west Sagaing region by villagers protesting the evictions.

Riot police used teargas, water cannon and, according to activists, incendiary devices local media described as "phosphorous bombs". Many of the injured suffered serious burns.

As monks protested on Saturday in Myanmar's biggest cities, President Thein Sein responded quickly to public outrage.

A statement on the website of the president's office said he had set up a commission led by Suu Kyi with a broad remit to look into whether the expansion of the mine should go ahead and into measures taken to control the protests.

The committee will encompass a broad cross-section of interests, including three local villagers and an official from the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, a partner in the copper mine project alongside a unit of China North Industries Corp, a Chinese weapons manufacturer.

It should report by the end of December, the statement said.   Continued...