[JURIST] Canadian and Chinese mining companies are profiting from Myanmar’s Monywa copper mining complex, which is linked to serious human rights abuse, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said [press release] Tuesday in a new report [text, PDF]. The 162-page report, entitled “Open for Business? Corporate Crime and Abuses at Myanmar Copper Mine,” details evidence of illegal activity conducted by the copper mining complex, including breaches of economic sanctions, the use of highly toxic explosives and gunfire on protesters and exposing thousands of people to health risks due to extreme pollution. AI also reported that Canadian and Chinese companies have colluded with Myanmar authorities to forcefully evict thousands, in violation of international law. AI called for an investigation into the Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines (now Turquoise Hill Resources) and Chinese companies Wanbao [corporate websites] and Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings for their collusion. AI also asked for investigations on the violence used against protesters, the halting of construction of the Letpadaung mine [Reuters report], and compensation and resettlement to those who were forcibly evicted.
Myanmar has long been critiqued for its human rights situation. Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] in April expressed concern [JURIST report] about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country’s Rakhine State [JURIST news archive]. In January of last year Quintana, along with the UN humanitarian chief, called for an immediate investigation [JURIST report] by authorities following reports of alarming levels of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. In October 2013 Quintana warned [JURIST report] that sectarian violence between the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State was contributing to wider anti-Muslim sentiments in Myanmar, threatening the positive changes undertaken by the country in the past two years. While Quintana acknowledged that Myanmar’s government has demonstrated willingness to address the situation, he expressed concern that discriminatory acts against Muslims remain unattended. Earlier that month Quintana welcomed [JURIST report] the release of 56 prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, although he stressed the need for legislative reforms that would address the injustice against prisoners of conscience.