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Gold mining and trade

Individual Documents

Title: Mergui-Tavoy Situation Update: K’Ser Doh Township, March to May 2017
Date of publication: 28 September 2018
Description/subject: "Since February 2017, gold mining in Paw Hkloe has contaminated streams and waterways, upon which the local population depends on for their drinking water. The road construction between Hkay Tu Toe and Hpaw Taw The Weh Pa Meh area has caused damage to local plantations. The company contracted to build this road did not provide compensation to local villagers because they argued that the road is being built for the benefit of civilian populations. Situation Update | K’Ser Doh Township, Mergui-Tavoy District (March to May 2017) The following Situation Update was received by KHRG in June 2017. It was written by a community member in Mergui-Tavoy District who has been trained by KHRG to monitor human rights conditions. It is presented below translated exactly as originally written, save for minor edits for clarity and security..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (253K)
Alternate URLs: http://khrg.org/2018/09/17-64-s1/mergui-tavoy-situation-update-kser-doh-township-march-may-2017
Date of entry/update: 04 October 2018

Title: Hpapun Field Report: January to December 2013
Date of publication: 02 March 2016
Description/subject: "This Field Report includes information submitted by KHRG community members describing events which occurred in Hpapun District between January and December 2013. The report describes human rights violations, including sexual harassment, violent abuses, landmine incidents, forced labour, land confiscation, gold mining, arbitrary taxation, and theft and looting. In addition, fighting between Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Border Guard Force (BGF) soldiers resulted in injury and displacement of villagers. The report also documents villagers’ concerns regarding the stability of the 2012 preliminary ceasefire and issues important to the local communities, such as access to education and healthcare. - Between January and December 2013, villagers reported ongoing militarization and use of landmines by Tatmadaw and BGF soldiers in Bu Tho and Dwe Lo townships, resulting in fatalities and injury to villagers and livestock. - BGF soldiers committed human rights abuses such as sexual harassment, violent abuse, and demands for forced labour from villagers in Bu Tho Township. - Monk U Thuzana’s followers ordered villagers to perform forced labour for the monk’s bridge construction project. - A private gold mining enterprise has been endangering villagers’ health in Dwe Lo Township. Villagers expressed their opposition to gold mining projects in the area by producing placards and posting them along the road and the river..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (1.3MB)
Alternate URLs: http://khrg.org/2016/02/16-1-f1/hpapun-field-report-january-december-2013
Date of entry/update: 10 April 2016

Title: Broken Promises - Deadly Gold Mining Continues in Mong Len (Shan, English, Burmese)
Date of publication: 07 December 2015
Description/subject: "In response to strong community resistance to gold mining in Mong Len, eastern Shan State, the Shan State Mining Minister ordered the mining to stop in July 2014. Despite this, mining is ongoing in this area till today, with permission from Naypyidaw, and is continuing to have grave impacts on the health and livelihoods of local villagers. This booklet documents the struggle of the villagers to hold the mining companies accountable, and the failure of companies and government officials to protect local communities’ rights. The booklet is dedicated to Loong Sarm, a villager from Na Hai Long, Mong Len, who was shot and killed by Burmese government soldiers on October 13, 2015, when he went with a group of villagers to monitor the gold mining in the hills above his village. The soldiers were providing security for the mining operations..."
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ), Shan
Source/publisher: Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN)
Format/size: pdf (412K-reduced version-en, 764K-original-en; 424K-reduced version-Shan, 762K-Shan-original; 415K-Burmese-reduced version, 781K-Burmese-original)
Alternate URLs: http://shanhumanrights.org/images/stories/pdf/December_2015/English-for-web.pdf
Date of entry/update: 19 March 2016

Title: 'With only our voices, what can we do?': Land confiscation and local response in southeast Myanmar. - Texts, maps and video (English, Karen Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 30 June 2015
Description/subject: "Villagers in Karen areas of southeast Myanmar continue to face widespread land confiscation at the hands of a multiplicity of actors. Much of this can be attributed to the rapid expansion of domestic and international commercial interest and investment in southeast Myanmar since the January 2012 preliminary ceasefire between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Myanmar government. KHRG first documented this in a 2013 report entitled ‘Losing Ground’, which documented cases of land confiscation between January 2011 and November 2012. This report, ‘With only our voices, what can we do?’, is a follow up to that analysis and highlights continued issue areas while identifying newly documented trends. The present analysis assesses land confiscation according to a number of different factors, including: land use type; geographic distribution across KHRG’s seven research areas; perpetrators involved; whether or not compensation and/or consultation occurred; and the effects that confiscation had on local villagers. This report also seeks to highlight local responses to land confiscation, emphasising the agency that individuals and communities in southeast Myanmar already possess and the obstacles that they face when attempting to protect their own human rights. By focusing on local perspectives and giving priority to villagers’ voices, this report aims to provide local, national, and international actors with a resource that will allow them to base policy and programmatic decisions that will impact communities in southeast Myanmar more closely on the experiences and concerns of the people living there."..... Toungoo (Taw Oo) District... Hpa-an District... Dooplaya District... Hpapun (Mutraw) District... Mergui-Tavoy District... Thaton (Doo Tha Htoo) District... Nyaunglebin (Kler Lwee Htoo) District...
Language: English, Karen and Burmese
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (en-5MB; bu-5.5MB; maps-en-2.8MB; maps-bu-2.7MB; appendices1&2-en-2.7MB; appendix 3-en+bu-614K; briefer-Karen-2.7MB) video (Adobe Flash, 16 minutes)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/KHRG-2015-06-30-With_only_our_voices-en-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 10 July 2015

Title: Where is genuine peace? - A critique of the peace process in Karenni State
Date of publication: 05 December 2014
Description/subject: "A new report by the Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN) raises concerns about international “peace support” programming amid st increasing Burma Army militarization in Karenni State after the2012 ceasefire with the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP). The report “Where is Genuine Peace?” exposes how a pilot resettlement project of the Norway-led Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI) in Shardaw Township is encouraging IDPs to return to an area controlled by the Burma Army where their safety cannot be guaranteed. The MPSI claims that between June 2013 and September 2014 it supported 1,431 IDPs to return to 10 Shadaw villages forcibly relocated in 1996. However, KCSN found only about a third of these IDPs in the villages, most of whom were working-age adults returning to carry out farming, but not daring to return permanently due to fears of renewed conflict. As in other parts of Karenni State, the Burma Army has been reinforcing troops and fortifying its positions in Shadaw, where there is a tactical command centre and over 20 military outposts. “Instead of encouraging IDPs to return home be fore it is safe, international donors should be trying to ensure that the rights of conflict-affected villagers are protected,” said one of KCSN. “There must be pressure on the government to pull back its troops from the ethnic areas and start political dialog ue towards federal reform.” KCSN also criticizes the MPSI for fuelling conflict by ignoring Karenni-managed social service organizations that have been providing primary health care and other support to IDPs in Shadaw for decades. MPSI’s health support was through the government system, which remains highly centralized and dysfunctional in Karenni State. “Donors should not just give one-sided support to expand government services into ethnic conflict areas. This won’t be effective, and will only increase resentment and fuel conflict,” said KSWDC. The report also raises concerns about rampant resource extraction after the ceasefire, land confiscation, military expansions and lack of transparency around dam plans on the Salween and its tributaries in Karenni State. KCSN is calling for a moratorium on large-scale infrastructure and resource extraction projects in Karenni State until there is genuine peace." [from the KCSN press release of 5 December, 2014]
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN)
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Date of entry/update: 08 January 2015

Title: Shan Farmers Say Gold Mining Is Wrecking Their Land
Date of publication: 16 July 2014
Description/subject: "Farmers from eastern Shan State’s Tachileik Township have called for an immediate end to gold mining operations in the area, which they say are seriously polluting water sources and causing other environmental damage. The ethnic Shan villagers from Na Hai Long, Weng Manaw and Ganna villages in Talay sub-township said that more than 300 acres of farmland can no longer be cultivated due to waste produced by gold-mining companies. A group of the farmers traveled to the Shan State capital of Taunggyi to give a press conference organized by the Shan Farmers’ Network on Wednesday..."
Author/creator: Nyein Nyein
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 16 July 2014

Title: Papun Situation Update: Dwe Lo Township, March 2012 to March 2013
Date of publication: 16 July 2013
Description/subject: "This report includes a situation update submitted to KHRG in May 2013 by a community member describing events occurring in Papun District mostly between March 2012 and March 2013, and also provides details on abuses since 2006. The report specifically describes incidents of forced labour, theft, logging, land confiscation and gold mining. The situation update describes military activity from August 2012 to January 2013, specifically Tatmadaw soldiers from Infantry Battalion (IB) #96 ordering villagers to make thatch shingles and cut bamboo. Moreover, soldiers stole villagers' thatch shingles, bamboo canes and livestock. It also describes logging undertaken by wealthy villagers with the permission of the Karen National Union (KNU) and contains updated information concerning land confiscation by Tatmadaw Border Guard Force (BGF) Battalions #1013 and #1014. The update also reports on gold mining initiatives led by the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) that started in 2010. At that time, civilians were ordered to work for the DKBA, and their lands, rivers and plantations were damaged as a result of mining operations. The report also notes economic changes that accompanied mining. In previous years villagers could pan gold from the river and sell it as a hedge against food insecurity. Now, however, options are limited because they must acquire written permission to pan in the river. This situation update also documents villager responses to abuses, and notes that an estimated 10 percent of area villagers favour corporate gold mining, while 90 percent oppose the efforts..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: pdf (292K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2013/khrg13b45.pdf
Date of entry/update: 10 August 2013

Title: Thaton Photo Set: Gold mining in Bilin Township, January 2013
Date of publication: 28 June 2013
Description/subject: "This photo set includes 18 still photographs selected from images taken by a community member from Bilin Township, Thaton District in January 2013. These photographs depict gold mining in Baw Paw Hta village and show village lands that were bought by the Mya Poo Company and subsequently damaged because of mining."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Format/size: html, pdf (317K), html
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/khrg2013/khrg13b38.pdf
Date of entry/update: 10 August 2013

Title: Mining, Plantations Affect Livelihoods of Kachin Villagers, NGO Says
Date of publication: 28 May 2013
Description/subject: "Unregulated gold mining, agro-industrial farming and hydropower development in Kachin State is affecting thousands of villagers, who are suffering from environmental destruction and a loss of farmland, a Kachin rights group warned. The People’s Foundation for Development, a NGO based in the Kachin state capital Myitkyina, launched a report in Rangoon on Monday that documented ten cases in which local villagers lost their land and livelihoods to large-scale investment projects and rampant gold mining. The group said that in recent years about 3,500 people had been forcibly evicted to make way for the suspended Myistone hydropower dam and for for the Yuzana Corporation’s massive cassava and sugarcane plantations in the remote Hukaung (also Hukawng) Valley. Since 2006, Yuzana, with the cooperation of local authorities, has been granted 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of land in the region. Much of it was reportedly confiscated from hundreds of Kachin families, while the firm allegedly also cleared large parts of a tiger reserve in the valley..."
Author/creator: Lawi Weng
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 May 2013

Title: Blood and Gold: Inside Burma's Hidden War (video)
Date of publication: 04 October 2012
Description/subject: Deep in the wilds of northern Myanmar's Kachin state a brutal civil war has intensified over the past year between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). People & Power sent filmmakers Jason Motlagh and Steve Sapienza to Myanmar (formerly Burma) to investigate why the conflict rages on, despite the political reforms in the south that have impressed Western governments and investors now lining up to stake their claim in the resource-rich Asian nation.
Author/creator: Jason Motlagh and Steve Sapienza
Language: English, Burmese, Kachin, (English subtitles
Source/publisher: People & Power (Al Jazeera)
Format/size: Adobe Flash (25 minutes), html
Date of entry/update: 08 October 2012

Title: Turning Treasure Into Tears - Mining, Dams and Deforestation in Shwegyin Township, Pegu Division, Burma
Date of publication: 20 February 2007
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "This report describes how human rights and environmental abuses continue to be a serious problem in eastern Pegu division, Burma – specifi cally, in Shwegyin township of Nyaunglebin District. The heavy militarization of the region, the indiscriminate granting of mining and logging concessions, and the construction of the Kyauk Naga Dam have led to forced labor, land confi scation, extortion, forced relocation, and the destruction of the natural environment. The human consequences of these practices, many of which violate customary and conventional international law, have been social unrest, increased fi nancial hardship, and great personal suffering for the victims of human rights abuses. By contrast, the SPDC and its business partners have benefi ted greatly from this exploitation. The businessmen, through their contacts, have been able to rapidly expand their operations to exploit the township’s gold and timber resources. The SPDC, for its part, is getting rich off the fees and labor exacted from the villagers. Its dam project will forever change the geography of the area, at great personal cost to the villagers, but it will give the regime more electricity and water to irrigate its agro-business projects. Karen villagers in the area previously panned for gold and sold it to supplement their incomes from their fi elds and plantations. They have also long been involved in small-scale logging of the forests. In 1997, the SPDC and businessmen began to industrialize the exploitation of gold deposits and forests in the area. Businessmen from central Burma eventually arrived and in collusion with the Burmese Army gained mining concessions and began to force people off of their land. Villagers in the area continue to lose their land, and with it their ability to provide for themselves. The Army abuses local villagers, confi scates their land, and continues to extort their money. Commodity prices continue to rise, compounding the diffi culties of daily survival. Large numbers of migrant workers have moved into the area to work the mining concessions and log the forests. This has created a complicated tension between the Karen and these migrants. While the migrant workers are merely trying to earn enough money to feed their families, they are doing so on the Karen’s ancestral land and through the exploitation of local resources. Most of the migrant workers are Burman, which increases ethnic tensions in an area where Burmans often represent the SPDC and the Army and are already seen as sneaky and oppressive by the local Karen. These forms of exploitation increased since the announcement of the construction of the Kyauk Naga Dam in 2000, which is expected to be completed in late 2006. The SPDC has enabled the mining and logging companies to extract as much as they can before the area upstream of the dam is fl ooded. This situation has intensifi ed and increased human rights violations against villagers in the area. The militarization of the region, as elsewhere, has resulted in forced labor, extortion of money, goods, and building materials, and forced relocation by the Army. In addition to these direct human rights violations, the mining and dam construction have also resulted in grave environmental degradation of the area. The mining process has resulted in toxic runoff that has damaged or destroyed fi elds and plantations downstream. The dam, once completed, will submerge fi elds, plantations, villages, and forests. In addition, the dam will be used to irrigate rubber plantations jointly owned by the SPDC and private business interests. The Burmese Army has also made moves to secure the area in the mountains to the east of the Shwegyin River. This has led to relocations and the forced displacement of thousands of Karen villagers living in the mountains. Once the Army has secured the area, the mining and logging companies will surely follow..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: EarthRights International (ERI)
Format/size: pdf (632K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.earthrights.org/files/Burma%20Project/report-_turning_treasure_into_tears.pdf
Date of entry/update: 06 March 2007

Title: Valley of Darkness - gold mining and militarization in Burma's Hugawng valley
Date of publication: 09 January 2007
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "The remote and environmentally rich Hugawng valley in Burma's northern Kachin State has been internationally recognized as one of the world's hotspots of biodiversity. Indeed, the military junta ruling Burma, together with the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society, is establishing the world's largest tiger reserve in the valley. However, the conditions of the people living there have not received attention. This report by local researchers reveals the untold story of how the junta's militarization and self-serving expansion of the gold mining industry have devastated communities and ravaged the valley's forests and waterways. The Hugawng valley was largely untouched by Burma's military regime until the mid-1990s. After a ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the junta in 1994, local residents had high hopes that peace would foster economic development and improved living conditions. However, under the junta's increased control, the rich resources of Hugawng valley have turned out to be a curse. Despite the ceasefire, the junta has expanded its military infrastructure throughout Kachin State, increasing its presence from 26 battalions in 1994 to 41 in 2006. This expansion has been mirrored in Hugawng valley, where the number of military outposts has doubled; in the main town of Danai, public and private buildings have been seized and one third of the surrounding farmland confiscated. Some of the land and buildings were used to house military units, while others were sold to business interests for military profit. In order to expand and ensure its control over gold mining revenues, the regime offered up 18% of the entire Kachin State for mining concessions in 2002. This transformed gold mining from independent gold panning to a large-scale mechanized industry controlled by the concession holders. In Hugawng valley concessions were sold to 8 selected companies and the number of main gold mining sites increased from 14 in 1994 to 31 sites in 2006. The number of active hydraulic and pit mines had exploded to approximately 100 by the end of 2006. The regime's Ministry of Mines collects signing fees for the concessions as well as 35% - 50% tax on annual profits. Additional payments are rendered to the military's top commander for the region, various township and local authorities as well as the Minister of Mines personally. The junta has announced occasional bans on gold mining in Kachin State but as this report shows, these bans are temporary and selective, in effect used to maintain the junta's grip on mining revenues. While the regime, called the State Peace and Development Council or SPDC, has consolidated political and financial control of the valley, it has not enforced its own existing (and very limited) environmental and health regulations on gold mining operations. This lack of regulation has resulted in deforestation, the destruction of river banks, and altering of river flows. Miners have been severely injured or killed by unsafe working practices and the lack of adequate health services. The environmental and health effects of mercury contamination have yet to be monitored and analyzed. The most dramatic effects of this gold mining boom, however, have been on the social conditions of the local people. The influx of transient populations, together with harsh working conditions, a lack of education opportunities and poverty have led to the expansion of the drug, sex, and gambling industries in Hugawng valley. In one mining area it was estimated that 80% of inhabitants are addicted to opium and approximately 30% of miners use heroin and methamphetamines. Intravenous drug use and the sex industry have increased the spread of HIV/AIDS. Far from alleviating these social ills, local SPDC authorities collect fees from these illicit industries and even diminish efforts to curb them. The SPDC continually boasts about how the people of Kachin State are benefiting from its border area development program. The case of Hugawng valley illustrates, however, the fundamental lack of local benefit from or participation in the development process. The SPDC is pursuing its interests of military expansion and revenue generation at the expense of social and environmental sustainability This report documents local people speaking out about this destructive and unsustainable development. Such bravery should be encouraged and supported.".......The main URL for this document in OBL leaqds to a 1.5MB version, obtained by passing the original through ocr software. The original and uthoritative version can be found as an alternate link in this entry.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG)
Format/size: pdf (3.77MB - original and authoritative; 1.5MB - ocr version)
Alternate URLs: http://www.eldis.org/assets/Docs/24720.html
Date of entry/update: 09 September 2010

Title: Gold Diggers
Date of publication: October 2005
Description/subject: Big companies push small prospectors aside in hunt for Burma’s riches... "In Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen tells Alice: “A word means what I want it to mean.” That sums up in one sentence the state of Burma’s statute books—particularly those decrees relating to mining the country’s rich resources. Robert Moody, in his 1998 “Report on Mining in Burma,” put it more directly. The law on mining passed by the Rangoon regime in 1994, he said, “is not just one, but a parade of farts in a bucket.” The law makes no provisions for holding mining companies responsible for failure to stabilize workings and waste piles, nor for rehabilitating closed mines. There are no requirements for an environmental and reclamation bond to be posted by a mining company, no need for an environment and social impact assessment, nor for an independent monitor to ensure compliance during mining and post-closure operations.The law allows private citizens to prospect for gold, but they are not permitted to use machinery. People granted permits must sign an agreement to turn over 30 percent of their refined gold to the Ministry of Mines. Citizens are also permitted to pan for placer gold found in streams, although they are increasingly being edged out by Chinese contractors dredging the Irrawaddy River..."
Author/creator: Charles Large
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 10
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 30 April 2006

Title: At What Price? Gold Mining in Kachin State, Burma
Date of publication: November 2004
Language: English
Source/publisher: Images Asia Environment Desk, Pan Kachin Development Society
Format/size: pdf (3.4MB) 66 pages
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs22/At_What_Price!_Gold_Mining_in_Kachin_State,%20Burma.pdf
Date of entry/update: 21 December 2004