Twelve women demonstrators were arrested on Monday in northwestern Burma, prompting a larger demonstration calling for their release. The women were arrested during a prayer ceremony in a pagoda.
The women planned to protest at the Monywa Copper Mine, located in Sagaing division’s Sarlingyi Township, according to one of the women.
The project developers are Wan Bao Co., a subsidiary of state-owned Chinese arms manufacturer North China Industries Corp. (Norinco), and Burma’s army-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holding.
“After we paid homage to the Buddha, about 30 security police followed us,” one of the women told Radio Free Asia (RFA), in an article published on Monday.
Among the 12 held was Thet Thet Win from Wetmhe village, who is a leader of the movement against the copper mine project.
Last week, hundreds of security forces stormed the copper mining site in search of land rights activists who helped organize earlier protests by 10,000 villagers demanding the return of land seized for the project.
The police arrived at the Monywa mine late in the evening of Sept. 6 but were fended off by hundreds of demonstrators armed with sticks and knives who were guarding the area.
Villagers say the mining companies have illegally confiscated more than 8,000 acres (3,237 hectares) of farmland from 26 villages in Sarlingyi since 2011, said RFA.
Tensions have risen in recent weeks since Wan Bao has continued digging at the site and dumping waste soil on the confiscated land despite a request to suspend work and enter negotiations.
Villagers have been protesting near Wan Bao's offices since August to demand adequate compensation, the return of confiscated lands, a stop to forced relocations, the reopening of locked monasteries, and an end to the dumping of waste on their fields.