KHRG received five complaint letters from the resident villagers in Ma Yan Kone village, Kyaung Na Kwa village tract, Kyaik Ma Yaw Township in Dooplaya District regarding stone mining activities. The complaint letters are addressed directly to the Border Guard Force (BGF), Burma government Kyaik Ma Yaw Township leaders and to KHRG.
The stone mining project is being undertaken in the At Ta Yan Mountain, led by contractor U Thu Taw, who is also known as U Tin Moe Aung. He has been hired by BGF Battalion #1021, which is based in Ma Yan Kone village. The stone mining project began in 2011 and was ongoing as of June 2014. Villagers are gravely concerned for their livelihoods because of the impact of stone mining. Resultant shards of stone have spread widely to other areas, including those within and close to villagers’ agricultural land. The stones fall into the villagers’ flat fields and damage the plantations. The villagers’ farming irrigation systems also became blocked when the stone miners laid cement over the road in order for trucks to transport the stone easily.
Villagers in the area are very concerned about the stone mining, and have faced major obstacles in continuing their livelihood activities as a result. In particular, cows used for ploughing agricultural land were injured when they stepped on sharp shards of stone from the mining, and were no longer able to work. As a result, villagers have needed to incur additional costs by hiring other villagers’ cows to continue ploughing. However, the rented cows’ feet were wounded for the same reason, requiring the villagers to compensate the owners for those injuries, which has led to some arguments among members of the local community.
Furthermore, villagers themselves were also injured by the sharp shards of stone while ploughing their flat fields. By the middle of 2013, around ten acres of land had already become damaged in the areas close to the mining project. Some people left their land and stopped working altogether.
As the challenges to farming had become insurmountable at the local level, the community wrote letters in May 2013 to the village head and the township leaders, requesting that they negotiate with the BGF Battalion #1021 soldiers on their behalf. The villagers main concern was that, if the stone mining continued, it would be impossible for them to plant paddy. Therefore, they requested that the leaders help them solve the problem and stop the stone mining project as quickly as possible.
According to an update on this situation received in June 2014, villagers in the area were unable to plant paddy in either the 2013 or 2014 planting seasons due to the negative impacts of the mining project as described above.