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Yangon apologizes for violence against monks

YANGON, Myanmar: Myanmar’s government apologized for a violent crackdown on Buddhist monks and other foes of a copper mine in northwest Myanmar.
Religious Affairs Minister Thura Myint Maung formally apologized for the violence to 29 senior monks at a ceremony in Yangon on Friday. His remarks were carried by all state media yesterday.
He said the government felt “extreme sorrow that monks and other people were wounded in the copper mine incident,” which he said was mishandled by local authorities in Monywa in the northwest region of Sagaing.
Local authorities would “ensure that such undesirable incidents do not occur again,” he said.
In the Nov. 29 crackdown, police used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs to break up an 11-day occupation of the mine project.

The mine is a joint venture between a military-controlled holding company and a Chinese mining company. Protesters say it is causing environmental, social and health problems, and want the project halted.
Nearly 100 people, mostly Buddhist monks, were injured during the crackdown, mostly by burns that protesters said were caused by incendiary devices hurled by police.
The crackdown was reminiscent of those the country faced under military rule. It stirred anger because of the violence against monks, who are held in high regard by the Buddhist country.
The heavy-handed action indicated the government is still unsure where to draw the line on public protests. Thein Sein’s government has been hailed for releasing hundreds of political prisoners and for implementing laws allowing public demonstrations and labor strikes.