The dispute over the Letpadaung Copper Mine is the latest test confronting President Thein Sein’s administration. The project is a joint venture between the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL) and the Chinese firm Wanbao. Local villagers allege that the military confiscated 7,800 acres of farmland back in 2010. Last November, the government responded to protests with force, allegedly injuring a hundred people, including Buddhist monks.
Recently, the villagers had turned to legal means. According to Irrawaddy, Three villagers from Hsetae and Moegyoepyin villages filed a complaint in the Salingyi Township Court. The court dismissed the charge. However, the group’s lawyer, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, has already announced his intention to appeal to the Monywa District Court.
While the case could become a new test of the judiciary’s willingness to hear claims against the government, in all likelihood it will be preempted by the government’s official report on the incident. Aung San Suu Kyi’s parliamentary commission has written a report, which according to sources has already been published in the newspaper The Mirror. I’ve not read the report yet, but it will almost certainly address the question of liability.