Villagers in southern Burma are demanding that a Thai coal mining company operating in their area return land that the claim the company is occupying is rightfully theirs.
More than 13 villagers from Ah Mla, east of Dawei, want the East Star Company to return land that the villagers alleged that the mining company took for their camp and coal stores.
On October 30th, Ah Mla villagers called a meeting with the local KNU leaders in a bid to try to resolve the problem, Saw Maw Bla a resident said.
“We want to return and settle back in our village so we want the company to move. We also want them to move away their coal from outside the village. We worry for our health. We also want the company to refill the excavations that they dug around the village.”
Ah Mla, a Karen village, was destroyed by a Burma Army offensive in 1997. A few years ago the villagers started to return to resettle back in their village.
The East Star Company that is mining coal in Paw Klo set up their camp and coal store before transporting back to Thailand.
The villagers alleged that the East Star Company is occupying land belonging to 13 Ah Mla villagers.
Saw Kaw Lay said.
“We are returning to our village and we want the company to move out. We also want the company to clear the piles of rock and sand that they blocked the river so their cars can cross. We want the river to be like it was before so boats can travel on it in the dry season.”
East Star is a joint venture with May Flower, a Burmese owned company, that was granted a 25-year concession by the government to mine for coal in the Paw Klo area.
The company received permission from the KNU to mine in 2011. The KNU agreement states the company must renew its permit every year.
The KNU’s permit limits large-scale coal mining to a 60-acre area and states that the company is only allowed to mine outside village areas.