Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

November 29, 2012

Myanmar cracks down on mine protest; dozens hurt

(Continued)

Other evicted protesters gathered at a Buddhist temple about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the mine's gates.

The government defended its actions in a statement issued Thursday afternoon and broadcast over state television. It denied using excessive force and said it used fire hoses, tear gas and smoke bombs according to international standards for riot control.

The statement declared that the authorities took action for the sake of rule of law and in the interests of the country and its people, and said the project operated in accordance with international standards to protect the environment.

The protest is the latest major example of increased activism by citizens since the elected government took over last year. Political and economic liberalization under Thein Sein has won praise from Western governments, which have eased sanctions imposed on the previous military government because of its poor record on human and civil rights. However, the military still retains major influence over the government, and some critics fear that democratic gains could easily be rolled back.

In Myanmar's main city of Yangon, six activists who staged a small protest against the mine were detained Monday and Tuesday, said one of their colleagues, who asked not to be identified because he did not want to attract attention from the authorities.

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